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Buswatch Blog

TWO'S COMPANY

09-07-2009

This month Buswatch blogger Barbara Panvel reports on the shabbily upholstered Number 2 bus service in Birmingham - for which passengers have to pay the same fare, of course, as on showcase routes.

This month a camera was taken on board a ‘Cinderella’ bus on the 2 route which has the shabbiest vehicles in the city, though passengers pay the same fare on the ‘Showcase’ routes which are a pleasure to board. It was good to see evidence of an attempt to improve conditions: the damaged and defaced seats upstairs were not to be seen and new upholstery shone out here and there, replacing worn or damaged seats.

bus seats

One of our Handsworth reporters has been using alternatives to the bus service: “I used park and ride at the Hawthorns and caught a train direct to Marylebone on Saturday which was precisely on time (as Chiltern Railways usually seem to be). I've also used the tram a lot and apart from it being crowded it's a good, comfortable, clean, quick service. So while the world ignores further developments I enjoy my personal travel arrangements greatly thank you!”

The other Handsworth reporter writes: “the buses on my route do seem to be behaving better. Might be just an impression but 16s seem to stop when asked”.

National Express West Midlands [NXWM] has apologised to the student disabled by cerebral palsy who was not allowed to get on the bus in her wheelchair, though the bus had a wheelchair access sign and a low floor, and is to investigate the incident.

Though a reasonable six-day response time to letters has been maintained, after NX rebranding the service has been made more ‘efficient’.

This involves sending a proforma with one introductory paragraph summarising the message received - with 50% accuracy to date.

This compares poorly with database records of the carefully drafted letters [2001-2008] from Travel West Midland’s Chief Executive Brian Jackson, Acting Chief Executive Neil Barker, and Customer Services Director Steve Jasper.

One letter this month, recording an incident of reckless driving causing injury, has not even been acknowledged by NXWM – a new low in customer relations.

Incidents reported to Buswatch

A 50 single-decker ‘Diamond’ model sailed past the Bull Ring stop, where many buses were queuing, leaving a crowd of passengers behind. It was reported well after the event and one item of information was lacking so it was not referred to National Express West Midlands Customer services.

Cornering at high speed caused a Yardley Wood bus to sway alarmingly from side to side. Our reporter was in pain for three days after being flung to other side of bus and then against the pole at the head of the stairs receiving bruises to the left shoulder and temple – narrowly missing the eye.

A letter was sent on 17th June recording this incident of reckless driving which caused bruising and pain for several days has not been acknowledged by NXWM – a new low in customer relations.

Such erratic driving needs to be addressed. Some time ago a sudden jerk caused a Shirley resident to fall on the bus floor, breaking four ribs and puncturing her lung.

In both of these incidents the people concerned were too shocked to take the names of witnesses or even complain to the driver.

In the earlier case the company sent a letter pointing out that there was no record or evidence of the incident and expressing its sympathy with the victim.

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