£1.46m Sheffield tram system still ‘fiction’ - eight months later

Alistair Nicoll frustrated at tram signs which are inaccurate
Alistair Nicoll frustrated at tram signs which are inaccurate
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A ‘real time’ information system for Sheffield trams is still under test and not working correctly - eight months after it was installed.

The city’s transport body pledged in October that the £1.46m LED displays, which were installed at tram stops in a bid to provide up-to-date departure times to thousands of passengers for the first time, would be up and working by the end of 2015 after Middlewood resident Alistair Nicoll raised concerns.

On occasions, passengers could only see which trams were timetabled to arrive, not those which are actually about to turn up, and sometimes trams departed at different times to the displayed schedule time.

At the time an internal email said that not all trams in the city were being tracked for real time travel information because the new technology will not work alongside older equipment on the network, which is now more than 20 years old.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive said then that the screens were being tested to make sure the technology was right before the system was fully introduced.

However five months later, and eight months after the system was originally installed, Mr Nicoll has said the system is still ‘misleading’ passengers with wrong information.

The retired market researcher, who met with transport body representatives last year, added: “I have spoken with a number of the tram conductors and all have said that these dot matrix should be turned off or covered up until they can provide accurate information.

“It is not as simple as the showing of ‘scheduled’ and ‘actual’ time of next tram as all to often the data for the actual time of the tram is complete fiction.

“The problem is that the customer has no way of telling if the times displayed are accurate or fiction until the tram does or does not turn up.”

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive said that no additional costs had been incurred as a result of the extended testing or by action taken to resolve the problems.

A new date for when the system will be working fully was not promised - only that it would be at the ‘earliest opportunity.’

An executive spokesman added: “This real-time information project will bring up to date information to thousands of passengers every day and the team are working to bring testing to a close at the earliest opportunity.”