How often do travel companies say sorry?

Sorry for the inconvenience banner logo Image copyright Omid Kashan

"Sorry for the inconvenience": four little words that are of scant comfort to the thousands of commuters shivering on train platforms, grumbling at bus stops or enduring the Tube when delay and disruption abound.

But as miserable Southern rail users struggle to find alternative routes to work again, one technologically savvy public transport user is providing fed up commuters nationwide with some degree of palliative care in the form of a new website that tracks transport companies' apologies in real time.

Omid Kashan, a 26-year-old web developer and graphic designer, was fed up with the apologies he was getting as he waited for trams in his native Manchester.

"It dawned on me that you can't go more than 10 minutes on a platform without hearing, 'Sorry for the inconvenience,' about some disruption or other," he said.

"I wondered if you could put any data to how many times companies apologise."

Image copyright Omid Kashan
Image caption Fed up with hearing the excuses and apologies, Omid Kashan decided to track travel companies' apologies on Twitter in real time

He decided to track apologies made by the official Twitter account for the tram company.

"It started just for the Metrolink tram in Manchester," he said.

"But as soon as the site went live, people started asking me to add more operators and different companies. I bowed to public demand."

The website has been up and running now for just over a fortnight. It works by searching for certain keywords - "sorry", "apologies", and so on - in the tweets from travel companies' Twitter accounts, logging and scraping the results.

And those results are pretty astonishing.

Image copyright Omid Kashan
Image caption Omid Kashan's website lists almost 40,000 apologies by Southern this year on Twitter - an average of 111 per day.

In total, the site has tracked almost 400,000 apologies this year from public transport operators and two low-cost airlines.

Southern rail alone has apologised almost 40,000 times on Twitter in 2016 - an average of 111 times a day.

That is more than any other train operating company - though Great Western and South Eastern run them close, with both apologising on Twitter more than 100 times a day on average, according to the site.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

"It doesn't take too long to add a new operator, but it does take a bit of time to scrape the historical data," Omid told us.

"The one downside is that it only tracks apologies.

"So if a company never apologises then it wouldn't show up, even if they were really bad.

"But the fact that Southern has apologised almost 40,000 times in a year tells its own story.

"Hopefully it will raise a bit of awareness of what people are having to put up with, but I guess more than anything it's just a bit of pathos."

By Chris Bell, UGC and Social News hub

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