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Barbara's Blog



It's not a new phenomenon, but that doesn't make it any less annoying - bus drivers who don't stop! Barbara Panvel wonders if the time has come for an organisation to represent the needs of passengers.

As Kevin Chapman recently wrote in The Stirrer, buses must become more reliable before car drivers will be tempted to leave their cars at home. Many bus drivers are helpful & courteous, but others are giving the public poor service.

On Friday 5th, though, eight people were waiting at a Shirley bus stop for 20 mins, the bus just sailed past.

Remembering this the next day I held my hand out for some time as the traffic was almost at a standstill - but again the bus did not stop. As it was jammed in the traffic I walked two metres and knocked on the door. Though the bus was unlikely to move for minutes, the driver, who had a very surly expression, refused to open.

Returning fuming to the stop, an elderly lady told me that two days earlier, when she was returning to her residential home, the driver failed to stop at the Mason House stop, though she got up in good time and had rung the bell.

Despite her pleas and many angry calls from other passengers he said 'No stop, no stop' and carried on to the next stop - a considerable distance. That meant that a frightened newcomer from Ireland had to walk back in the dark and fog, down a long stretch of road, half of which is semi-rural, with no buildings nearby.

On each occasion people were amazed and angry but seemed to think that no notice would be taken of complaints. That is not so.

In 2001 Brian Jackson CE Travel West Midlands dealt promptly with a complaint about driving which was putting people in danger of injury as they went to get off the bus.

I took the numbers of two drivers who had - unusually at that time - been driving smoothly and forwarded them. Sadly there are still many drivers, giving what Mr Jackson described as 'a lower quality of ride', who are in need of TWM's refresher and remedial training. Only the fit, alert and hands-free can cope confidently with the frequent, unexpected jerks made by such drivers.

In June 2007, a number 6 failed to stop and was reported. Neil Barker, TWM's Acting CE, traced the member of staff concerned and 'reminded him of his responsibilities as professional PCV Driver'.

In December 2007, more than once, drivers of the No 2 did not stop for passengers before 9.30, assuming that they would try to use their passes. Retired people do sometimes have to catch trains or attend early meetings and are prepared to pay. A letter from Steve Jasper Customer Services Director of TWM's 'Travel Care Dept' informed me:

Even if customers do not put out their hand drivers should try to ensure they do not require the bus before driving past.

[If you or others see anyone else see anyone else not being picked up] please provide me with the date, time, location, direction of travel and bus number. This will enable us to trace the individual driver[s] concerned and to take corrective action.

I have written to him again today, but am concerned by the way people just put up with bad treatment.

Is there a bus-users league in Birmingham? Regular train travellers have an active association and it is quite effective. Though TWM has dealt with these complaints promptly and courteously, co-ordinated feedback from the public would help to bring about better standards.



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