On the Buses…
I recently came across an internet discussion headed ‘Why are bus drivers so bitter?’ The person asking the question had felt let down by a bus driver not allowing him onto his bus though standing at a bus stop. Without delving into that set of circumstances I think those of us who have cause to use bus services all have our frustrations to relate.
The area of Nottinghamshire where I live is served by Nottingham City Transport Buses and also a private East Midlands bus company called Trent Barton. Alighting a corporation bus, one is reasonably likely, though by no means always, liable to experience a poor, uncommunicative or sullen attitude from the drivers whereas the Trent Barton drivers are at the other end of the spectrum, invariably behaving in a friendly, personable and helpful manner.
I agreed with many of the assertions in the discussion revolving around the frustrations of the drivers and what a difficult and trying job it must be. I think this takes it toll – these men and women do a thankless job in many respects. An interesting observation for me locally is that the corporation drivers generally drive just a few miles on their routes through very frustrating city and suburban conditions – with the resultant effect on the drivers. Just imagine driving stop-start all shift long, the abuse from some members of the public and so on. The Trent Barton drivers tend to partly drive through the city too but their routes are often longer with stretches through open countryside. The bus I use between home and Nottingham city centre is a journey of but four miles but the bus then usually continues on to Chesterfield – a full thirty mile journey with only an intermittent stop in a built up area (Mansfield). I’m sure this helps the drivers and is a mood lifter.
Perhaps more importantly, I’m pretty sure the Trent Barton drivers are trained and educated in their attitudes towards customers. The company has a smaller ‘family feel’ to it and this culture really improves relations between staff and customers. They also make judicious use of social media to communicate with their customers. The Facebook and Twitter comments they provide through the day can be incredibly helpful regarding en-route problems, cheap fares and so on.
The result is a superior service. The respect is palpable between drivers and customers and the positivity and friendliness shown by the drivers mostly delivered right back at them from their passengers. The service, as far as travelling on buses goes, is a pleasant one to use. I have a choice in my suburb of using Trent Barton buses or Nottingham City Transport buses. Guess which one I don’t use from one year to the next?