Transport tumult

RAIL and bus companies said lessons would be learned after Yorkshire's public transport network was virtually paralysed by snow a year ago. They have not been, judging by the difficulties encountered by passengers during the more recent cold snap.

Northern Rail promised in January 2010 to desist from using platform information screens to say that trains were "on time" when, in fact, the services in question had been cancelled. Again, this happened last month – much to the chagrin of passengers.

And, having issued assurances, a year ago, that the text messaging alert system, used to inform travellers about buses, would be modified to withstand the weather, it promptly broke down – and provided inaccurate information – when snow-bound workers were relying on public transport to get home as the snow deepened.

Of course, some wider perspective is required. The advent of modern communications means passengers should now be far better informed about train and bus services than in the past than they were in the past.

This is a positive development. However this technology is only effective if it works and provides up-to-date information – an objective that still seems to be beyond the capability of some of Yorkshire's public transport providers.

There is nothing worse, on a cold, wind-swept night, than waiting for a bus or train that does not arrive for whatever reason. And while, of course, inclement weather will bring about an element of disruption, this is no justification for keeping passengers – already paying over the odds in many instances – in the dark about timetable changes.

If the companies concerned cannot raise their game, the Government should not hesitate to take the necessary action. The time for excuses has long past.