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STILL WAITING FOR THE BUSWATCH

30-12-2008

Buses

Bus passengers still lack an effective lobbying voice says Barbara Panvel. And after her recent experiences she’s adamant that they need one.

'Fury as bus leaves passengers in cold' was the headline in a local paper on Christmas Eve.

An angry bus passenger had contacted National Express West Midlands a week earlier. He uses the 966 to get from Birmingham International to his Coventry workplace and it ran almost an hour late on two nights last week, though it is timetabled to run every 30 minutes.

This was precisely documented, as were my earlier examples (link here) and those of John Tyrrell last week (link here). The next paragraph is anecdotal.

A passenger walked towards her bus stop outside New Street Station. There were two stationary buses and four drivers chatting. When she approached she was told both buses were out of service – one had a problem with the brakes and a driver for the other had not turned up. An inspector came along and she spoke to him.

He immediately told her to get on, reassured her there was nothing wrong with the brakes, ordered one of the drivers to set off and told her that the drivers had simply been avoiding work.

Last week readers of the Stirrer will remember that John Tyrrell stood with his hand out and watched the bus pass and then stop to unload passengers 20 yards past the stop - then four 11s came bunched together.

Government excels at giving advice, urging people to use public transport and leave their cars at home - whilst doing absolutely nothing to address the high fares and unreliable service which make bus use expensive and also impractical for those who have to get to work or meetings on time.

John Tyrrell asks, “What do we do about it?”

Why not ‘Buswatch’?

A working group with one bus-user from each area could report any unsatisfactory incident and a monthly report could be sent to National Express West Midlands, the Stirrer and Birmingham Mail.

Particularly good or helpful drivers [acting ‘above and beyond the call of duty’] could also be listed - they would be quite willing to give their numbers for this purpose.

There may well be another side to this question: a bus driver recently told me that management treats drivers ‘like dirt’ – and their passengers are also rude . . . If so, this will have some bearing on the problems being experienced. Effectively addressing these issues will benefit everyone: drivers, passengers and bus companies.

DOES ANYONE WANT TO SET UP BUSWATCH? THE STIRRER WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO PUT INTERESTED PARTIES IN TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER? JOIN THE THREAD ON OUR MESSAGE BOARD OR CONTACT EDITOR@THESTIRRER.COM

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