Monday, 25 August 2014

Bus-ted


Blog reader Paul got in touch a short while ago with an observation about the bus scheduling at the station. He writes:
"Something that puzzles and annoys me which you might take look at when the opportunity arises, is the departure times and inverse synchronisation to train arrival times of the 151 bus route during evening rush hour.
I’ll explain. I have a notion that perhaps the buses leave deliberately when a train pulls into the station rather than waiting 2 or minutes for the passengers to climb over the bridge and board. It sounds crazy doesn’t it, but it seems to happen so frequently during the late evening rush hour that the train arrives and just as we’re getting off the first carriage and briskly walking under (was over) the bridge the bus turns on its heels and departs. It’s almost as if there’s a game amongst the drivers to take as few passengers as possible, call me paranoid if you wish! 
Of course if a terminating bus arrives then the first has to depart as there is space for only one bus, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s the times when only one bus is there, and it would surely make huge sense that if a train arrives at the time when the bus driver is preparing to depart that he waits 2 minutes to collect the passengers, after all that is the purpose of the job! In fact if LT could synchronise the bus departure timetable to 5 mins after the train arrival time then they’d be close to providing a service! 
And another part of the game, when there are people standing at the corner wondering whether a 213 will come along from New Malden or whether the 151 will turn on its lights and open its doors there is another opportunity to perform the departure so quickly that there isn’t chance for passengers to cross the road and board. I’m not joking! There isn’t even 30 seconds between the engine starting and the lights coming on before the driver quickly scoops up passengers waiting right outside its door and driving off. It has been known for the drivers to allow passengers to board before lighting up so as to perfect the escape."
What is your experience with bus drivers perfecting their escapes while managing to avoid actual passengers? Do tell...


5 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Jay said...

In regards to your final point I have this problem daily, quite often I will see a 213 due in a few minutes, but the 151 driver having a smoke(which I thought wasnt allowed at bus stops?), so wait for the 213 with an eye on the 151, then without even noticing he is on, engine on, people smart enough to chance the 151 on, and they are off. May only be a few minutes delay but does my head in.

Bov said...

Why don't you get in touch with the bus company and point this out to them?

PJ said...

This happens all the time. I've sprinted for the 151, only for the driver to pull two feet away from the kerb to the red light and refuse to open the doors. Seems like picking up paying customers is too much hassle; much better to leave with an empty bus 😉

misslawbore said...

The other day I noticed a man standing outside the ironing/dry cleaning shop on the WP station forecourt ready to sprint across it to get the 213. I stood with him. There is probably quite a little crowd there at times. Yes we did have to constantly swivel our eyes over to the 151 bus parked at the stop to see if the driver had got in it (not quite sure where they go for their fag and tea, does anyone know?) while keeping an eye out for the 213. Better to be closer to the 151 stop than the 213 as yes the 151 drivers are a bit nippy getting in and driving off. Another grouse - I have difficulties with walking so when I want to go to Worcester Park Station, I regularly wait at the REQUEST bus stop in Central Road for a 151. There is large tree which blocks the view of oncoming buses; so you have to position yourself somewhere else than the bus stop in order to see them. Even so, if you don't promptly rush out into the bus stop parking area (at some risk to life and limb) to flag down a 151, it will rush straight past at speed as the driver is focussed solely on his tea and fag at Worcester Park Station!

Dave said...

Smoking at a bus stop is not illegal, although decidedly anti-social.
What is questionable is when a driver stands in the doorway of his bus smoking, but with the offending object held just outside the door - I'd say that is an offence, but who's going to do anything about it?

As for the fuss over where to stand, etc., I use the station stops almost every weekday and have never been caught out by a 151 starting without my noticing, nor have I seen it happen to anyone else - the stop is only about 5 paces from the corner anyway. Most of the drivers are friendly and helpful, so I regard the criticism on this thread as inappropriate - rather too many people seem to think the buses should run to suit them, and completely disregard the fact that they (have to) run to a timetable.
Holding a bus for 2 minutes because a train has just arrived would make it late at its next stop and probably at its destination. Should the driver wait for the first people off, or the stragglers too? How would they know that anyone wanted the bus anyway? The 151 runs to a 2-hour cycle, so punctual departure (6 minutes past the hour, then every 10 minutes, for most of the day on Weekdays) is essential. Aligning the buses with the trains wouldn't work either (I'm not going to waste my time explaining that). The frequency of these buses, 151 every 10 minutes, 213 every 8 minutes, is very reasonable. Those 'in the know' - and it doesn't take much intelligence to work it out - will keep a mental note of the running number of the 151 they regularly use (A2xx on a plate by the front door) so they will have a good idea of when the bus is due to leave. Those (not me) with 'smart' phones can, of course, check bus departures online.

The fuss on this thread is just that - someone must have had a bad day!

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