|<<>>|32 of 173 Show listMobile Mode

SBB Online not so hot either

Published by marco on

A little while ago, I wrote about my experiences with the SBB automated ticket machines. The online experience is somewhat better but still has some mysterious bugs and omissions—it’s hard to believe that this software has been in use for years—and by millions of users.

Where’s the Zürich Hauptbahnhof?

One example comes from the list of suggestions returned when a user types in the “from” or “to” field in the route finder. One day, I entered what I thought was an easy match, one of the largest and busiest train stations in Switzerland: Zürich main station. In German, it’s called the “Zürich Hauptbahnhof”, which is what I typed, as shown in the screenshot below.

 Where's the Zürich Hauptbahnhof?

As you can see, it utterly failed to match that train station (again, the “largest […] in Switzerland” and one of the “busiest […] in the world”, according to Wikipedia). You’ll note that I was using the site in German and I entered German text.

The trick to finding the Zürich main station on the SBB web site is to use the abbreviation “HB” instead, as shown below.

 There it is – only under Zürich HB

Only if you use the abbreviation does the list of suggestions contain the Zürich main station. This is totally unacceptable; both should match but, if they had to choose just one, shouldn’t it be the actual name of the station?

Math is hard?

The other example I found occurs once you’ve managed to get a route between two stations. For the route shown, the web site indicates when the train leaves (“ab”) and when it arrives (“an”). It also takes care of the math for you and shows how long it takes, listing it under “Dauer”. In the screenshot below, however, the site seems to have subtracted incorrectly in every instance, mysteriously adding 10 minutes to each result.

 Math is hard

I can attest that the ride from Zürich Altstetten really does take only 6-8 minutes. Why is the site adding these incorrectly? I ran the search again today and got the following results:

 Sometimes it's right, sometimes it's wrong

Instead of a constant 10 minutes, the site added 10, 0, 11, 10, 11 and 0 minutes respectively. Despite the confusing representation and the SBB’s less-than-stellar reputation, I was still convinced that there must be method to their madness. Curious, I expanded the first of the suggestions, as shown below.

 Mystery solved! Walking time is included in 'dauer'.

The times are from when you enter the first train and leave the last one, not for the whole journey. If the trip includes a walk between two trains, then that walking time is included in the “dauer”; if, however, the walk is before the first train or after the last train, that time is not included.

Good to know, I guess.