Bus drivers deal with two well-known stress inducers: traffic, and the general public – often both at the same time. No wonder, then, that they are not always twinkly-eyed paragons of civility.
All the same, there is no excuse for really bad behaviour – we believe that every passenger has the right to travel without verbal abuse.
Passenger accounts of rude drivers
FixMyTransport processes a large number of complaints about bus drivers’ manners. While some concern pretty mild outbursts, others see passengers at the receiving end of the sort of language or behaviour we wouldn’t use on our worst enemy.
Take a look at these for some examples:
- A Bristol driver used strong words when presented with a £10 note
- The Hornchurch driver who claimed ‘I’m not swearing at you, I’m just swearing in general’
- The Derby bus driver who counted his money while driving, to make a point
- More bad language, this time in Manchester
- Catford driver laughed at disabled passenger as she tried to disembark
What to do if you experience impolite behaviour from your bus driver
What should you do if you find yourself at the receiving end of a bus driver’s incivility? Here’s our advice.
- Do not get drawn into an argument. The chances are that the driver is already stressed. Walk away, and let him or her concentrate on driving the bus.
- Make a note – mental or written – of the bus’ route number, the driver’s appearance, and the exact time and place of the incident. In most cases this will be enough information for the operator to identify the driver, but you may also wish to note the bus’ numberplate or the driver’s badge number (which he or she is obliged to tell you if asked – although you may not wish to exacerbate the situation by asking).
- Almost all buses have CCTV fitted, so it’s not normally necessary to obtain witnesses’ contact details. The operators will use the CCTV footage to check what happened – and you have the right to view it too, in most cases. However, the video tape is quickly erased and re-used (within 7-10 days, says TFL), so be sure to lodge your complaint as soon as possible after the incident.
- Use FixMyTransport to make your complaint. We’ll publish it online as well as sending it to the operator, which means that other passengers are given the chance to comment or offer support – and to chime in if they have experienced a similar problem on the same route. Include all the details you gathered at the time, unless this includes the driver’s name, which we’d advise you to disclose only when in one-to-one correspondence with the bus operator.
What will happen?
Normally, the operator will apologise on behalf of the driver and to assure you that he or she has been spoken to or disciplined about the incident.
Note that it often takes quite a long time before you receive a response to this sort of complaint – that is because the operator will be investigating the incident and going through a formal disciplining procedure. In the case of TfL, it may take even longer while they send your report on to one of the many bus operators that run their routes under franchise.
Because of the staff’s right to privacy, the outcome of such procedures is generally not shared.
In all but the most severe cases, it is unlikely that you will be compensated substantially. You may receive a couple of free tickets by way of an apology. But if all goes well, you do get the satisfaction that such an incident is less likely to happen again.
What if the incident was really serious?
Your first action should always be to contact the operator. But if you feel that an apology is not enough, you might subsequently consider taking your complaint to one of the transport watchdogs who will advise on next steps.
In London: London Travelwatch
In the rest of England, Wales and Scotland: Bus Users UK
Photo by Todd Mecklem (CC)