Timetable à la carte

Recently in a bar at a railway station in a major Swiss city: Two men over 50, both digital immigrants, look at their smartphones after a meeting to find the next train connection to Zurich. Both look into the same app, enter the same destination. But at least one connection is only shown on one person’s iPhone, while it is missing on the other’s Samsung. Have timetable displays already become individually programmed? Of course, the Digiimmi knows that when it comes to air fares (at least if he’s logged in to an airline that already knows him), if he does his research from his iPhone, he might pay more than his neighbor who searches through an old Windows PC. It seems socially just and reasonable for people with expensive devices to pay more for flights, right? But the fact that a whole train is only visible to some, while others have to wait for later connections, is hard to understand and triggers a lot of questions: Is this a special train for iPhone users (after all, you wouldn’t be surrounded by passengers with no-name and cheap mobile phones)? Does my mobile phone know that I’m faster on the track than my colleague, and does his mobile phone also know that he can’t make it to the train that quickly? Could it be that the additional train is displayed because I have a first-class ticket and he only has one for second-class? I will occasionally send these questions to SBB. However, at the moment I don’t want to bother their developers so that they can quickly set up the app that some regional trains are already offering. It will help me to get rid of the ticket purchase, because whenever I use a train, it will calculate the cheapest price after I get off the train and charge me via mobile phone subscription. This is what I call convenience.


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