171 BusI’ve spent far too long this weekend on London buses, first of all on the torturously slow 341 bus route on the way back from Ikea in Edmonton, and then today on a variety of different routes, including route 171 of London General (pictured).

The driver of the somewhat cranky 171 double decker braked so suddenly at Aldwych that Helena was thrown off her feet and injured her foot. This is not really an isolated incident – London bus drivers do not seem to make driving smoothly or safely any sort of a priority.

Yet ask yourself this: what is the motivation of a London bus driver to drive smoothly or safely? It must be quite dull to drive a bus all day, and shut off from the world behind a piece of perspex means no-one is ever going to thank you for doing a decent job. Further, it’s almost impossible to report bad driving – the once I did report a bus driver for dangerous driving I received no reply from TfL.

Further, I’ve overhead a number of conversations between bus drivers and passengers this weekend, and none have been at all sensible. Indeed in Tottenham one passenger was advised that the bus would pass Tottenham Hale tube station when in fact it did not. Giving anything approaching customer service to passengers seems impossible for London bus drivers.

So what needs to be done? Compulsuory customer service training for drivers for a start. Free-phone hotline numbers that can be called from your mobile when you’re on a bus to report bad driving. Plus the introduction of a bus information system that tells you what stops are next on the route so you don’t have to ask the driver.

6 Comments

  1. @Cheryl – agree that the attitude can often be very unfriendly. But in the underground it’s little better – passengers squeezing into a very small amount of available space. Personally I prefer the bicycle in London!

  2. Cheryl

    A friend and I visited London about 1 1/2 years ago and were really surprised by the bus drivers. My friend is in a wheelchair and there were numerous times when the bus driver appeared to not see us and drove away without putting out the ramp or acknowledging us in any way. So I started to go in the front while she waited at the back to let the driver know we were there and 1/2 the time I could never get the driver’s attention, the other half they seemed to be ignoring me entirely (would never look in my direction) and yet would put the ramp out. We found the experience baffling and a bit humiliating.

    I’m likely moving to London in the fall and hope where ever I’ll be working will be accessible by subway, I really don’t want to have to mess with the bus drivers! 🙂

  3. busweary

    The standard of some of our bus drivers also upsets the good drivers.Do you know the modern bus driver doesn’t do the old fashioned skid patch training.Be grateful that the buses didnt drive the day of the snow it would have been carnage!!!!Some of the old school drivers were laughing cynically at the lack of confidence in the newer recruits.I just got off a 18 bus being driven by a driver who was obviously advanced harry potter school bus standard!!!

  4. Cornetto Algida, Sr.

    I do say thanks – if they have been decent, and I get off at the front. But half the time they seem to ignore passengers due to the perspex anyway!

    do u expect the driver to start dancing when u board the bus? or better he may actually sing u a song to make u feel better. he may laid a red carpet at the front door so u can come in like a star. even better he may actually kneel down and worship u the great of all passenger.

    Yet ask yourself this: what is the motivation of a London bus driver to drive smoothly or safely?
    Just simply cause if u have a stupid accident cause u are too retard to keep a bit of balance or u just walk around the bus sleeping then the driver will be in a lot of trouble.

  5. Quite agree about the problem, and there have been various efforts to do something about it. Partly I think it reflects the explosion in the number of buses in London over the last few years.

    Am I weird? I do say thankyou to bus drivers when getting off just by them (I’m not weird enough to shout it from the back when the exit’s further back).

  6. I do say thanks – if they have been decent, and I get off at the front. But half the time they seem to ignore passengers due to the perspex anyway!

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