Archive for January, 2013

Late bus? How to make your complaint more effective

Bus queue by Clive Darr

Every day on FixMyTransport, we see a number of very frustrated passengers complaining that their buses are always late.

It is annoying to be affected by a repeated failure of a service, we know. But some of these passengers don’t provide enough information to enable the operator to investigate the causes. Some of the largest operators can have fleets of up to 800 buses operating on a network around a major city and tracking these with very little information can be virtually impossible.

With the following details, the operator can start to investigate the issues affecting your bus service. They can look at the buses that were in the area and identify the cause. Some are even prepared to offer a refund if the delay was their fault.

  • Date
  • Time
  • Estimated length of the delay
  • Bus stop you were waiting at
  • Service number
  • Direction of travel / your destination

Including this information will help you get results. But don’t just use FixMyTransport once! If you keep reporting any late running you experience, you can help the operator develop a better picture of delays on the bus routes you use.

They are more likely to keep an eye on a situation if they know that someone else is watching it too.

Your information may help the operators understand how best to develop their services to meet the passengers’ needs. They can understand if there’s a need for additional buses or a change of route. Or perhaps they will gain the ear of the local council, to ask them improve the transport infrastructure where frequent delays occur.

Your communications can even help the operator create a business case for investment to its head office in new buses, more staff, new publicity and even new routes.

What may initially seem to be time consuming and pernickety complaints, can very quickly turn into effective lobbying. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, to use an not entirely inappropriate metaphor. Some people have told me that they would expect staff to report these issues or someone in management to be reviewing the services but it is the voice of the customer that can have the most impact on a business when implementing a change.

So, in short, if you want to start reporting delays and issues to your transport operators and local transport authorities, get on board at FixMyTransport. Your complaints really can have an effect, if you know what to include.

Photo credit: fsse8info

Bus Delays and FixMyTransport

Expect Delays by Davidfntau

We’ve covered in detail about how to prepare for public transport┬ádisruption, as well as the highs and lows of train heating. Today, I’m going to give some tips on how to complain about bus delays.

Every bus route is different: some stay completely within city boundaries, and others cross entire regions of the country. Each will have its own potential for delays, but there are some factors which every route can fall foul of:

  • Traffic: the UK suffers from very bad traffic congestion in its city and town centres – and it varies minute by minute, day by day. So, a bus journey that’s trouble-free for most of the day may have particular issues around the rush hours.
  • Weather: In extreme conditions, buses are forced to turn around, not run at all, or divert from their normal route. This can be at short notice. Extreme weather particularly affects routes which include steep hills, or coastal roads.
  • Roadworks: Typically buses will only divert their routes if the work is scheduled over several days – otherwise, people who don’t see the notifications complain about buses that never turned up.

Many different factors affect buses. You may know of notorious bottlenecks in your own area, or regular events such as football matches that mean the buses are held up.

So, how do you complain? There are a few options:

  • Ask the driver what he knows (when he finally does appear). He may tell you the reason right away – but there’s no guarantee that he’ll pass your complaint on, or get anything done about it.
  • Report it on FixMyTransport – of course; that’s what we’re here for, and you may find that other affected passengers also comment on your page.
  • Use Facebook and Twitter to contact the head office. This often gets a quick response, and, as is the case with FixMyTransport, operators are often keen to put things right in public.

Once you know the reason for the delays, you might find you’re quite satisfied. But what if the delay is an ongoing problem, perhaps simply caused by buses taking too long between points – in other words, the timetable is inadequate?

Bus Diary

The best approach is to gather evidence that a change needs to take place. You can do this by taking notes on a regular basis. Keep a diary of the times you travelled on the bus, and write down the actual times versus the printed times. Presented with this evidence, the bus company or council will be able to see if there’s a good case for changing the times.

I’d recommend doing this over a period of a month at different times. You can write them in your diary, or use an Excel workbook – and of course, we recommend updating your FixMyTransport page regularly, so that everyone else who is affected can keep track and add their own comments and ideas.

Facts speak volumes when it comes to bus delays, so the more data you can gather, the better – and you may well get a good result.

No joy?

If you have taken the steps described above, and still find that your bus is delayed, it is time to take your problem further.

One benefit of FixMyTransport is that you can contact everyone you need from your problem page, keeping a record of the correspondence in one place. When users report bus problems that are not resolved, we point them towards one of the following bodies:

It’s also time to look at our blog post on how to escalate your complaint.

 

Good luck, and I hope your bus runs on time… eventually.

 

Image credit: Davidfntau (cc)