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History and purpose of HarlowRide

This site was set up in 1999 with one main purpose, which was to bring together all-operator bus travel information relevant to Harlow in Essex with an objective of promoting bus travel to the public via the internet. The trigger to set the site up was when, having moved to Harlow myself, even given my relatively informed background as an enthusiast, I began to realise just how difficult it was to understand the information that was available and how easily the public, my wife included, are put off. I should add that, at the time, almost nothing was available on the internet.

The guiding principals of the site were.

  • The services of all operators were promoted in an equal and fair manner, as were commercial and contracted services.

  • The site was free to operators and to the public.

  • The site promoted what we believe operated and not necessarily what was registered.

  • A positive but realistic style of language was used.

  • Fares information was shown only where it was otherwise published (typically pass prices) or was common knowledge in the public domain (e.g. the main town fares).

  • Copyright was and is always respected and only information supplied to us, or that which is in the public domain and unrestricted, was and is used on this site

Since the site was first set up, many operators established their own sites and traveline came into existence, but I chose to continue with HarlowRide for some years because I could see gaps in operator provision and traveline wasn't the easiest to use for some people. I also offered a personalised e-mail reply service to enquirers. The site was evidently used and valued by many passengers and has I'm certain successfully encouraged new bus users onto the services of all operators in the town (and beyond!).

The enthusiasts section was added as a way of giving something back to like-minded folk, and in this section only, as it is not likely to be read by the public, I did and still do venture into some personal opinion.

What changed in January 2016?

For some time we had fought with the challenge of wanting to keep information current whilst having a site which was based on a static format, the limitation being my own capability with the technology. Because there was no revenue stream, investing in smarter web packages or training wasn't practical. Then there was the issue of having good information soon enough to plan for the changes. Some operators were helpful, others not.

Time moved on and the smartphone naturally became the tool by which most people wanted to have access to data and harlowride really didn't present well in that format. I also believe that the target market wanted more than we could ever offer such as real-time information and bus tracking plus ticket purchasing. These things were not only beyond my technical capability but I was certain that the degree of operator support which would be needed would simply never be attainable. I therefore took the decision to discontinue the travel information section of the site rather than present something out of date. I had hoped that section of the site would be taken over and developed by another organisation, and initially it was, but regrettably the necessary developments did not materialise.

Today HarlowRide remains to provide an enthusiasts overview of what happens in the area only. I intend to continue to maintain this for the foreseeable future. Any information on route and feel changes would still be of huge assistance.



Michael, web-author, HarlowRide Bus Travel Information Service

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Last update 27th December 2017

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