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?
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.
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:
- Bus Users UK – an independent body who support bus passengers in England and Wales, apart from London
- London Travelwatch – the equivalent body for Londoners
- Bus Passengers Platform – supporting Scottish bus passengers
- Northern Ireland Consumer Council – although we regretably can’t yet cover NI on FixmyTransport, this is where to go if you need support
- Traffic Commissioners – the senior officers who grant licences to bus operators
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)