I shouldn't need to ask.
I went down to the library this morning to change some books, a day late. There is a new computerised system down there now, you place your card on a bar code reader and then place the books in a slot that reads the books titles and you get a receipt that has a list of the books and date they are due back. Fine except that that date is no longer stamped in the front of the book so you have to keep the receipt or write the date in yourself. Both of which I omitted to do and ended up owing Torbay Library Services 24 pence, a tiny fraction of my income but still 24 pence. I digress. What I wanted to mention is that while I was there I picked up a copy (free) of the Mature Times, a paper aimed at us oldies. One of the articles suggested that up to 800 elderly people a day fall over whilst on a bus. Several reasons were given including tripping over items left in the isle, the driver going too fast and the most likely, the driver setting of before the elderly person has sat down. Now I am aware that as a person gets older their bones get more fragile so I always tried to make sure anyone who looked fragile had sat down before I set of. I am sad to say I was in a minority. I travel on buses quite a lot these days ( well it’s free isn’t it? (sic)) and I do notice that if I was still driving a bus I would still be in the minority.
I once asked a driver why he had set of from Castle Circus, accelerating in a similar fashion to Apollo 11, while an extremely frail old lady was still struggling down the bus. She would have gone out the back window except there wasn’t a back window on the bus. His reply was, “I have a timetable to keep to.” When pushed a bit further he stated, “If she can’t get on a bus quickly she shouldn’t get on a bus.” I gave up at this point, it would have been like trying to tell the British Government that we are wasting time, money, reputation and lives in Afghanistan without hope of the conflict ever ending.
I would point out in the bus company’s defence that Stagecoach, when I worked there, did put up notices instructing drivers not to indulge in this dangerous tactic. As more elderly people make more use of their free (sic) bus passes this problem can only get worse unless a more vigorous campaign is carried out by bus companies to educate their drivers as to the dangers elderly people face when boarding a bus. Apart from the notice I mentioned above I do not remember, when going through bus driving school or at any other time, anyone mentioning this problem other than in an offhand, slightly condescending fashion. Perhaps a tour round a hospital ward full of elderly people who fell over on a bus might be a bit too much to organise but the odd poster in the office could help make some of our less caring drivers think before setting of.
PS Not all drivers set of while I struggle to get to my seat laden down with shopping and my camera but if you are elderly it only takes one fall to bugger up the rest of your life..