Monday, August 8, 2011

Why I Hate the Bus Eireann and UlsterBus Websites

(And Why I Love My Family!)

One of the more exciting parts of my upcoming Ireland trip for me is that my friend, Al, is going to be joining me. I have a friend with me and for the first time ever, I get to tell my family to shove their "but you have to come over for tea... again" and go be a tourist.

Okay, so I would never complain about meeting my family for tea, but it's lovely to know that I have a built in excuse to leave the family trail for the tourist trail. Like Donegal. I haven't been to Donegal since I was nine. I miss Donegal, but I don't have any family that lives there so it's not high on the list when I go. Well, this time it is because I think it is the most beautiful part of Ireland (take that, over-touristed South-West!) and that everyone should go there. (But don't tell them that I sent you, they'd probably revoke my Irish passport for ruining their little secret.)

Given that it's not just me going, I want to make sure that we get to where we want, when. I know that my family would be more than willing to drive us between points but I want to know that if no one is able to go from Dublin to Armagh until Saturday and we want to leave on Thursday, we can do it.

Via Monaghan, of course, so I could stop at the cemetary and pay my respects.
Enter Irish Public Transit.

I had a problem trying to get DART information a few weeks ago and even took to ranting about it on facebook.

Bus Eireann and UlsterBus blew them all out of the water!

There's a Bus Eireann/UlsterBus multi-day pass and I wanted to have a rough idea if point-to-point would be a cheaper option. I figured looking at the fares would be the easiest way to do this. Oh, how nieve I was!

Bus Eireann was confusing and would give fares going to the North on one page but not on another; once you got to the fare page, you couldn't then click a 'home button' to return to a new search quiery; the default stop for most cities was not the main bus station but other smaller stops (often on regional busses so then you get "transfer at the main station, blah, blah, blah"); in short, it was frustrating and not the least bit user friendly but I was able to get a few rough ideas of time tables and prices.

A couple of our trips would be entirely in the North. As this region is covered by UlsterBus, I didn't expect Bus Eireann to cover the information (and it didn't) so I headed over to UlsterBus to get a few price ideas. Given that they had three links on their main page which said "UlsterBus Fares", I had high hopes. Yet every time I tried to get fair info, it ended with this message:





I again took to facebook to rant.

Within five minutes, I had four different messages from my cousins all saying that they (or their parents, love how we children are so willing to volunteer other family members) will gladly drive me and my friend where ever we need to go.

"I work until three most days but then I can run you up to the North."

"If we need to meet somewhere and drive back, you can just give me a call."

"Why are you bothering with UlsterBus? You know my dad will be more than happy to take you where you want to go."

"You know my dad's retired, right? I'm sure he'd love to pick you up and run you around ."

And that's how crappy, crappy websites reminded me of how much I love my family... even if they do live eight time zones away...

...and even if one of them joked that the websites were IQ tests, I've failed, and now I won't be allowed through customs.

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