..in short, the answer is a belated but appreciated personal reply, but tangibly, precious little.
Many London bus drivers, employed by private companies operating in conjunction with TFL, are at best aloof and at worst down right rude.
Credit to this article on public transport customer service, for the photo>
My main complaints were:
- That I had a specific bad experience with a bus driver
- That this is not unique
- That many people I know (including other bus drivers I have spoken to) AGREE that rude, uncommunicative, unfriendly bus drivers are endemic in the industry
My complaint, and subsequent reply, are published below in full, for those who care.
My email sent on the 3rd December 2012:
Dear Sir / Madam
Bus REF: DLA20S,
Route: 243 from Waterloo, @ 10:47 am on Monday 3rd December 2012
Can someone explain to me why TFL find it acceptable that on repeated occasions your bus drivers are permitted, seemingly encouraged, to treat passengers with such contempt?
The bus reference and time above refers to just one occasion where, after I ran to the bus stop and bus door, the driver closes the doors as I arrive, sees me, looks at me, and despite it being obvious I wish to board chooses instead to drive off.
There was no traffic which caused his need to depart so speedily as Waterloo bus station is not on the highway.
The hall mark of a successful business in this day and age is good customer service. While a minority of bus drivers still seem to embody this (and what I would hope remains a British tradition of politeness and good will) a vast majority do not.
I have too often experienced an arrogance from drivers, or at best ambivalence. Aside from driving off, many:
- Don’t respond when said “good morning” to or “good afternoon”
- Some accents are so thick that if they do reply they either mutter or sometimes one can’t understand their response
- Some don’t speak or respond when asked questions, at all!
I’m paying for a service and they are being paid by the custom I provide. Moreover, they are representing my (and presumably their) country and London, to everyone single passenger that boards a London bus.
I’m fed up with feeling like an unwelcome guest aboard my own bus service.
In summary then I would like a proper response (and action taken) around two points:
1) Regarding my specific experience:-
A) why the driver felt it appropriate to drive off
B) what has been done to ensure he pays more care and attention in future
2) In general why so many TFL bus drivers:-
A) seem to feel empowered not to put the passenger first
B) are rude, unresponsive and uncommunicative (if you don’t want to speak to the general public all day, don’t be a bus driver)
C) ..and what is going to change in TFL’s training and employment policies to ensure the points A/B change to substantially improve the customer service and friendliness of London bus drivers, to have an impact on tens of thousands of peoples lives every day who use London buses.
Perhaps TFL’s senior leadership can view it as a revolutionary new approach to their people, to go along with their revolutionary (and very good) new London busses.
NB: To ensure a considered response from you, this letter will be published on line, on my personal blog, to my 3,600 twitter followers, publicly on Facebook, and sent to the Evening Standard newspaper.
The reply I received, 23 days later:
Our Ref: 1011585328/ABB
Dear Mr Scott
Thank you for your message. I was very sorry to hear that a bus driver on route 243 (registration W404VGJ) did not allow you to board his bus when departing from Waterloo on the morning of 3 December 2012.
Arriva London, who operate route 243 on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) have asked me to pass on their apologies to you. The driver could have allowed you to board and the incident is being followed up with the aim of minimising the possibility of similar errors on his part in the future.
I am also sorry to hear of your many experiences when bus drivers in London have not exhibited the expected level of customer service. Transport for London (TfL) certainly does not encourage the sort the sort of behaviour you described and we engage with the private bus operating companies, who employ the bus drivers and manage the day-to-day running of the routes, to ensure that standards are as high as possible.
All bus drivers in London are formally assessed by a Driving Standards Agency (DSA) Approved Assessor and must pass an additional test for Passenger Carrying Vehicle’s (PCV) as assessed by the DSA (which includes a focus on customer service). In addition, we work very closely with all our bus operators to improve the quality of our services, highlighting the need for attention to proper standards of service and driver conduct. We also strongly emphasise staff training and liaise with all bus companies to ensure we continue to achieve improvements across London. Whenever we receive complaints about poor standards, we follow them up with the bus company concerned. Assuming the complaint is upheld and it is not of a nature that could lead to dismal or suspension, the driver will undertake a variety of follow-up actions aimed at improving their standard of service.
We would hope that the majority of bus drivers are not rude, unresponsive or uncommunicative and that they do try to the put their passengers first. The evidence we collect from our various monitoring exercises suggest that most of London’s 21,500 bus drivers carry out their jobs in the manner expected of them and customers find many to be helpful and professional in general. It is regrettable that isolated drivers cause this perception to be called into disrepute. Therefore we greatly appreciate you highlighting this incident to us, as it allows the bus operator to take action aimed at continuing to improve the level of service provided to our customers.
Once again, please accept our apologies for the delay and upset caused by the driver’s behaviour on 3 December. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Please don’t hesitate to contact me again should you require any further information or assistance.
Transport for London – Customer Experience