Etiquettes for a bus traveller.

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TfL have been running a ‘Considerate travel’ campaign for several years now aimed at making people understand simple things to do and also ‘not to do’ to make the journeys on public transport a little bit more enjoyable (if that is possible).  At least, make them more tolerable.

What is the point of sending people a message like ‘I will not eat smelly food on the train/bus’ for several years if TfL do not have the guts or will-power to do anything about it when people continue to abuse the facilities.  How often have you boarded a bus littered with empty drinks cans and boxes of ‘chicken and chips’ with the remnants left on the buses?  I am sure many a times.  Do people who engage in such behaviour not think of other people who might want to travel on the bus after them?  Have they never heard of a protrusion on our streets called a ‘dust bin’?  I teach my kids never to discard any litter on the streets, and I wonder how many other parents do.  Especially when I see adults discarding rubbish on the ground, when there might a bin only about 5 steps further away!

If you are new to travel on a London Bus, or even if you have been doing it for several years or all your life, following the things below can make the life a whole lot easier for the traveller and the driver of the bus:

* While waiting at the bus stop, please be aware of which direction the traffic is flowing in.  I have been hailed by a person waiting at a bus stop on the opposite side of the road!

* The bus has two sets of doors.  The ones at the front are for boarding the bus and the ones at the rear are for alighting from the bus.  Please use them for those purposes only, unless in an emergency.  Some drivers get very offended if you try to board the bus from the rear doors!

* Aim to have your Oyster Card or ticket or money ready before you board the bus.  Isn’t it annoying when someone spends up to 2 minutes ruffling through their pockets or a handbag looking for their tickets and the driver wouldn’t move till he/she has seen the ticket!  Especially when the bus is full during peak time and traffic is building up behind the bus as there is only single file traffic and this was the only person who boarded the bus at this stop.  You get the picture!

* Aim to have the correct change to buy the ticket if you intend to purchase a ticket on the bus.  Please note that drivers are not issued a float by the driving companies and even though it might be 5pm, the driver may have just started their duty for the day and may not have any change available.

* Do allow your arms to raise a little to let the driver of the bus know that you are interested in boarding the bus as it travels towards the bus stop where you are waiting.  If not the whole arm, even a suggestive muscle movement to convey your desire to board the bus does help the driver.  Often statues of people on bus stops make the driver drive past the stop without stopping when there is nobody who wishes to alight from the bus at the stop.  I have seen statues come to life with heavily animated arm movements, as I drive past bus stops.

* Once boarded the bus, please remember to let the driver know that you have a valid travel permit by showing them your paper ticket with the date visible and not hidden behind your fingertips, or the date side being upside-down or flashing the ticket for a split second in front of the driver expecting them to be in possession of superior powers to be able to take it in.  Agreed that 99% of London Bus Drivers do not now concern themselves with such issues (a matter to be covered in another article by me), but you might be on the bus with a driver from the 1% category who will not let you go past till he/she has seen a valid ticket for every passenger.

* If the bus is full to the brim, please don’t blame the driver if he does not stop at the bus stop or will not open the doors to allow more people to board the bus.  There is no point in shouting or swearing at the driver from the roadside or boarding from the Rear doors while the bus has stopped to let people alight.  Remember the driver has mirrors and cameras to keep an eye on the exit doors as well.  Some get very upset when people do this and may turn the engine off and refuse to drive further!

* When you are ready to alight from the bus as it approaches your bus stop, please remember to press the magic red button available near most seats on the bus.  This informs the driver that someone wishes to get off.  Do so giving the driver enough time to stop at your stop.  Pressing the button as the bus is just driving past your stop is not good, especially if you don’t like walking much, as the driver is NOT going to do an emergency stop for you!  Please remember, hardly any driver has telepathic powers to know if any passenger wishes to get off at the ‘next’ bus stop.

* My pet hate is the people who come running down the stairs on a double decker bus as the bus is just about to move off after the driver stopped at the bus stop, opened the doors, people got off and the doors were shut again!  Get off your arse early and be near the exit doors when the bus gets to your bus stop.  It is not a taxi service!

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