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Sunday, 15 July 2012

An open letter to the top boss of Transport for London buses

Today on the bus home from my cricket game, was another disaster, from a customer perspective. I got the 607 at about 9.30pm from outside Shepherds Bush tube station and sat down then part way home it stopped and waited, then waited and waited at the bus stop.

The people who were getting on had done so and no-one was getting off. There was no communication from the driver via the microphone or him getting out of his cabin. It then turned out that the bus had hit a vehicle in front of him. Doh!

So after about 10 mins we set off for part two....and I got home in one piece.

Last week again coming from Shepherds Bush and there was a loud bang. This time the large left side wing mirror had literately fallen off! This time all the passengers were forced to get off and struggle to get on other 207 / 607 buses.

Bus this is only two recent examples. I have lost faith in TfL buses. I think that all their drivers should be retested and be trained so they know how important communication is with passengers especially when things go wrong.

Here are my main gripes:

  1. Bus drivers being rude when a customer's Oyster card does not appear to be read correctly by the reader
  2. Drivers not wanting to give instructions to tourists who are not familiar with which bus might be the best for them to get to where they are going to
  3. Wing mirrors falling off. Who is inspecting the buses each night or week? Sounds like no-one is.
  4. Drivers stopping to allow for a gap between buses when clearly there is a large gap as I have missed the last one over 30 minutes ago! Perhaps these drivers are having a rest without wanting to say so?
  5. Drivers crashing in to other vehicles? How often does this happen? I saw one bus driver touch a cyclist to its left and luckily the cyclist was pushed towards a car which it used to avoid toppling over.
  6. The same driver in the fifth comment also (about 5 minutes earlier) allowed a lady put her bag on the bus, but then when she and the small child she was holding, were trying to get on the bus it drove off! It took a persistent passenger to get the driver to stop. The driver was then rude to the passenger. People like this who endanger the lives of cyclists should not be driving.

That is just 6 that come to mind. I can probably think of about 100 more if I had more time. So this open communication to Transport for London buses is clear. Train drivers so they communicate properly with customers and get rid of those who are causing accidents.


  1. The 65 is notorious for large gaps between buses. We have waited 30 mins for one in the past.

  2. Perhaps what you need to do is to spend a full shift alongside a bus driver to see the stresses they face in doing their job? London's roads are a nightmare and regrettably a minority of passengers are rude, insulting and aggressive. Pay and conditions are pretty poor - many drivers don't even have access to toilet facilities at route termini. Would you work in an office with no toilet facilities?

    A proportion of people with "faulty" Oyster cards are fully aware that they are defective and are simply trying to travel on the bus for free. Drivers are required to look after TfL's revenue by not allowing fraudsters to travel. What might look like rudeness may simply be a legitimate challenge to people cheating the system.

    I have seen plenty of drivers being helpful and accommodating to those who ask questions. We do need to remember that if drivers sit around answering questions then they are not driving the bus. You complain about delays and gaps between buses and yet say bus drivers should be mobile tourist guides. Drivers are under pressure to keep to schedule and every bus is tracked to fractions of a second against the timetable so that TfL can work out whether to pay the bus company a bonus or deduct money from their contract payments for poor performance.

    You are also playing the usual game of taking a couple of bad experiences and painting them as indicative of the entire TfL route network. That is simply not a true reflection of one of the world's largest and busiest bus networks. I look forward to the response from TfL.