If we say "breakfast from about 7 a.m.", we mean that breakfast's available by a.m. at the latest. Very occasionally, it may be that the freshly cooked breads don't make an appearance until five past if we've got held up on the newspaper run.
This morning, I had a hand delivery to make in Trowbridge and thought I would take advantage of a road show about transport advertised to me through email:
"The approximate times are Wednesday 18th September 8.00am • 2.00pm; In front of Trowbridge Town Hall, Fore Street." Excellent - the 07:38 bus from the end of our street, 08:21 into Trowbridge, and then 30 minutes to visit the road show before catching the 09:00 bus back, ready for a day's work.
Alas - looking around at 08:30, after my delivery was made, I couldn't find the road show at all and I had a quick cup of coffee in a fine coffee shop. I could see people arriving in buses at the Town Hall, making their way to their destinations. The market stalls were all set up and starting to trade. And I noticed an empty canopy with one young gentleman standing underneath at. Finishing my coffee at around a quarter to 9, I enquired of him if he was the Road Show, and he admitted he was, and asked if he could help, so I asked a question about one of the bullet points on his organisation's invites. "I don't know - I'm just the marketing guy. You want **** **** and she should be here about 9."
I did keep an eye open... I went back to the bus stop, but when my bus back to Melksham left at 09:06 all I could see at the stand was a couple of blokes starting to erect a display system.
If we were an hour late with our customer service, we would soon loose our customers and you would say "serves you right - you've only got yourselves to blame". The problem with this road show is that it's run by the council, it's funded by the taxpayer, and it's the people it aims to reach who will be the losers if it fails to work properly, together with the taxpayer who's funding it and the travel and transport campaigners who have fought so hard to improve Wiltshire's travel offering.
As a business, we say to people "please let me know if there's anything we can do to improve" and we value such feedback. And on that basis I have fed back; resulting in an explanation:
"We gave out approximate times for the roadshows as we're adapting them as we go based on the weather and how busy the town is. The main focus is the 11-2pm period and the afternoon when people finish work."
It was a lovely autumnel day in Trowbridge, and I'm completely at a loss as to how they knew ahead of time that it would be quiet, yet not far enough ahead to publicise the real times. Truly our local council works in mysterious ways. And with the show closing at 2 p.m., I'm not sure how they'll catch people "when they finish work", or is the 2 p.m. as elastic as the 8 a.m. was, and they'll be there until 6 or 7?
This isn't "my" project, so I don't know all the ins and outs but if I was doing a travel and transport road show, I think I would look to hit the peak hours - 07:00 to 09:30 and 16:30 to 19:00 in order to reach the regular and frequent travellers. To only be open when most people have already completed their morning journey seems like an opportunity obtained and squandered.
I may have missed something here... I know that several of my readers are involved in the organisations associated with these road shows, and I will happy add a better explanation of the advertising of 8 a.m. but not even being set up at all by 9 if you'll let me know.
Footnote - the morning after, at 07:00
. I note that the web site has changed the start time for these events from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., including a change to yesterday's... saying that it [was] due to start at 10 a.m.; I'm not a great fan of rewriting history like that, nor of missing the morning peak. The email newsletter in my inbox that attracted me still says 8 a.m. for this morning - let's hope it'd not been very effective in bringing people along before work!
. (written 2013-09-18, updated 2013-09-21)
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