aka the umbilical cord that joins all the fugging 53 buses together. Who needs a bendy-bus when the 53s run their own manual version, joined at their bumpers? (for bus route 53, simply substitute your local bus number or indeed any service run by Stagecoach).
In days of yore, the excuses touted by public service deliverers for bus-bunching were principally two-fold:
(1) conjestion/roadworks/accidents along the route lead to bigger queues at bus-stops, so bus A on route 53 is delayed. Meanwhile bus B (also on route 53 but leaving the depot later), catches up to bus A, because bus A is spending all its time at the bus-stops picking up loads of passengers. Hence bunching.
(2) similar scenario to (1) except this time caused by lack of bus-lanes.
Actually, there is another scenario which no-one involved with a bus company will EVER admit exists. Its the "I-want-a-fag-break-with-me-mates" scenario, and has pish-all to do with conjestion/roadworks/accidents or even segregated bus lanes, but in fact has a lot to do with recruiting lazy, incompetent, *stupid*, rude drivers who are more interested in being class-A assholes than delivering a public service. As, by popular agreement, bus-lanes and enforcement cameras are springing up like VD in a Dutch knocking-shop, scenario (2) is becoming increasingly implausible. And, with Ken's C-charge continuing to deliver quieter roads, (despite the doubters who said it would never last after the school hols- HA!) and with a (no doubt temporary) lull in the plague of roadworks across London, one has to ask: what is the cause of the persistant daily birthing of these Siamese triplets on wheels? Arriva lost the contract for failing to police their drivers, but when Stagecoach took over last year, they simply recruited the same D-rate drivers, and- surprise surprise- the same thing is happening all over again. If Ken's grand scheme is going to work properly, its not a case of just ploughing loads more cash in to buses- its a case of ploughing some cash into independent electronic tracking systems. These have two benefits: at bus-stops, you have genuine information about how near the next bus is (as opposed to the current fantasy that is countdown). But equally importantly, central control can see immediately which bus-drivers are extracting the urine. Contrary to the policy-makers who believe that "buses are enjoying a great revival in the capital" and are a "great success story" (genuine quotations from a LibDem Peer in a recent transport debate), those who actually use the service daily might choose to point out that, as with rail, increased service use does not neccessarily equal a success.
I have to concur with MM about the fundamental flaw in TFL's plan for London; the fact that the buses are driven by certifiable cretins.
It is for this reason I stay off the buses. I have seen people and prams knocked over in buses due to an irresponsible half-wit driver choosing to break at the very last moment in an empty bus lane.
On the journeys I do take, I have had to remonstrate with the driver about his or her erratic, inconsiderate, who-gives-a-f mode of driving on about 50% of the journeys. The driver response to my remonstration is nearly always a surprised expression resembling a guppy fish in a badly fitting uniform, closely followed by furtive checks to see if I'm in â€˜video-shot' to be later followed by a blasting of the horn as the bus lurches erratically past me down the bus lane after I've alighted. I had one particularly interesting cretin driver who took it on himself to transport himself, the bus and its 90 passengers at 3mph along the bus lane while blasting his horn at me !
The problem is twofold:
1) The drivers do not give a toss about providing a decent public transport service.
2) The buses are so easy to drive- with automatic everything - it takes zero effort to lurch and spew them around the roads to the huge discomfort of their passengers. This would not be possible on routmasters due to the degree of skill needed as prerequisite to driving.
The bus operators should travel on their own buses and remove drivers who are incapable of socially, practically and safely integrating with the travelling public and other road users.
It's funny I was thinking of posting a similar thread myself.
The only problem is who wants to be a bus driver? not the best job in the world is it? the pay isn't great and conditions are lousy (Some work I did meant I travelled to many bus depots around the country and they make Turkish prisons look like something out of house and home) therefore I can't see people taking it as a career choice that is why they are constantly advertising for drivers and why it's difficult to sack bad ones - who do you replace them with? Same with the NHS really there are so many useless people working in hospitals but they can't get rid of them.
The future of transport in this city is the bus, the tubes/trains will never cope with the sheer volume of people coming into town so what do we do?
Pay the drivers an extra £5000 a year making it more appealing and allowing them to weed out the idiots?
I agree with MM about bunching, but it's nothing new. I've seen them all setting off at once from the START of the route, so the excuse about getting stuck in jams was always less than the whole truth.
In the old days of London Transport and the TGWU closed shop I think the "management" were too scared to take drivers to task for fear of provoking a walkout, but that surely doesn't apply nowadays, so where are the inspectors and supervisors and what are they doing? Perhaps Stagecoach has sacked them all to save money.
I think TfL needs to be lobbied to get a grip of the situation. Write to the Mayor and/or your GLA Member. Stagecoach are a bunch of cowboys anyway (as we also know from their incompetent efforts to provide a rail service at Waterloo) and should never have been given the franchise.
However, none of this alters the fact that in London generally bus ridership is markedly up, and a lot of extra (and much superior) buses have recently appeared, as Ken Livingstone promised. Also some useful new routes. So let's not give the impression that the overall situation has deteriorated - it's quite the opposite.
Biscuit Boy is right, bus drivers pay is appalling, when you consider they have split shifts, are frequently attacked and abused ; are extremely vulnerable working alone. and have to depend on no roadworks, accidents,traffic allowing them to run according to their stated timetable.
The rest rooms are according to some staff I have spoken to exactly as Biscuit Boy said...
anyone in a job should consider themselves lucky and have pride in what they are doing.
bus-drivers are only human... I'm sure that most are suitable decent and considerate most of the time. The odd moment where one slips up under duress should be forgiven. Let's not forget the irate passenger complaining for no real reason !!!
I thought of this thread and chuckled to myself this morning on Beulah Hill as four 468's passed one after the other (the first packed the rest empty) and then after a 4 or 5 cars another two arrived together!
Paul is right though - the service has improved - and this is from someone who never used to ride the bus. Well I still don't on Stagecoach but that's for an entirely different reason (that perhaps explains why they can't attract half-decent employees).
I agree over the drivers pay issue and we also have the same with 1 and 188 busses travelling in convoy.
Why are tube drivers paid £30k for controlling a throttle in what looks like a fairly stress free environment with no face to face contact with stressed commuters and on the other hand bus drivers paid £20k for battling what I'm sure you will all agree is nightmare traffic and having face to face contact with the public (as well as being financially accountable for taking the fare money)