The Freedom of Information Act has already helped FixMyTransport to find out more about a bus stop installation in Heywood. This week, I am going to discuss another FoI request that has covered a source of discontent for some bus passengers in London.
To combat road congestion on the London Bus Network, bus control operators can request a driver to terminate a bus before its destination and travel somewhere else (usually in the opposite direction). Bus passengers using Oyster PAYG or cash pay on a per bus journey basis, so if they have to take two buses for a journey, they pay twice. If you are only expecting to travel on one bus for your journey but you are then forced to change buses, this can add extra costs to your bus journey that are not your fault. This should be solved by the issue of a Transfer Ticket.
However, it appears that some FixMyTransport users are not getting issued with these Transfer Tickets, such as Fraser Darling. To help users faced with this issue, I felt that the best way to proceed was to clarify the policy and the impact of not issuing them with Transport for London through the Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunately they were unable to find out how many complaints they received or how much compensation they provided with regards to Transfer Tickets. However, they provided us with three useful pieces of information for passengers who face this situation.
1. The policy that is provided to drivers and the actual process drivers should follow on the ticket machine
As explained to drivers on page 108 of the current bus drivers guide, known as the ‘Big Red Book’:
‘If your bus breaks down or is turned short of its original destination, passengers can transfer onto any other London bus service going the same way
Issue a ‘transfer’ ticket from the ticket machine (you do this by issuing an inspectors ticket for ‘9999’) and give it to the driver of the bus picking up your passengers. You may have to do this with more than one bus, until all of your passengers have been picked up.
Make sure all of your passengers are safely aboard another bus
Remind passengers with Oyster cards that they should not touch their card on the card reader when boarding the second bus’
The actual current process of issuing one of these tickets involves pressing a button twice to bring up a menu of special tickets on the ticket machine display, pressing a button to select an Inspectors Ticket, entering ‘9999’ on a keypad and then pressing the ‘issue’ button.
2. What to do if you do not get issued with a Transfer Ticket
The passenger should ask for a ticket from the driver of the bus from which they are transferring, at the time the transfer takes place. If for some reason the driver either refuses to give them a ticket, or does not supervise the transfer personally, the passenger should take details of the incident (time, place, route, what happened) and contact TfL Customer Services, who will have the matter investigated. Please note that if the driver personally supervises the transfer of passengers to another bus, there is no need for individual issue of transfer tickets, since passengers will then have been able to complete their planned journey without further payment.
The contact details for TfL Customer Services are:
Tel: 0845 300 7000 (08:00-20:00 Monday to Friday)
Post: Customer Services, TfL London Buses, 4th floor, Zone Y4, 14 Pier Walk, London SE10 0ES
Customer Services aim to respond to all complaints or enquiries within 15 working days. Any request for a refund is considered on its own individual merits, however we would expect a refund to be agreed if the driver failed to issue a transfer ticket when they should have done so, causing the passenger to incur additional costs.
3. Transfer Vouchers destined to replace Transfer Tickets
Please note that we are about to change the process for issuing transfer tickets (now to be Transfer Vouchers). The mechanical process is simpler, and drivers should issue them individually only to any passenger who has paid a cash fare or used Oyster PAYG. On boarding the second bus, the receiving driver should check the voucher (which is valid for 60 minutes after issue), cancel it by tearing it [in] half and return both halves to the passenger. We expect this to be introduced over the next few months.
The Freedom of Information Act has helped to clarify the policy for Transfer Tickets on London Buses. With this information, it should be easier for bus passengers using Oyster PAYG and cash to understand what they should ask for and what they can do if they are not issued with a Transfer Ticket when they should be.
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The photo at the top of the article features a bus awaiting preservation work at the Keighley Bus Museum