Following on from my LinuxUser column bemoaning the terrible Transport Direct website I received an email from Peter White, Director of xephos the people I mentioned who’ve made a Linux-served alternative to Transport Direct on a shoestring.
For abour £500k per annum we could provide about 85% of the functionailty of Transport Defunct (the remaining 15% being pointless anyway) as far as journey planning. Plus the xephos site also delivers timetables and “search for nearest” enquiries neither of which are available on TD
To add the silly extras and the fine detail would take the cost up to about £1,000,000 p.a. Our problem is that we cannot generate revenue when there are services “out there” however feeble which are free-to-user. Govt will only fund its own project at huge expense. Individual local authorities would LOVE to use xephos but cannot because of strongarm tactics by govt.
As far as I know Transport Direct cost the government £40-50 million. I’ve heard of local authorities being given spurious reasons for not being allowed to use services like Peter’s xephos. If Transport Direct was any good that might be understandable but it’s rubbish so we shouldn’t be forcing local services to be hobbled too.
I am forced to believe that it’s much harder than I ever imagined to get this kind of web stuff done right otherwise we’d be seeing much more brilliant stuff coming from our government.