Saturday, 13 February 2010

Keeping the Passengers in the Picture.

A post about transport for a change; Eurostar in essence but mostly about information. One of the comments made by the team investigating the recent breakdown of trains in the tunnel concerned the lack of information passed on to passengers waiting at stations for trains that weren't going to arrive but more importantly to those poor sods on the trains. Fancy sitting, stuck on a train in a tunnel with the temperature rising, the loos getting blocked,no water or food other than what you brought with you and absolutely no idea of why (terrorist attack? tunnel flooded or leaves on the track) or how long the train would remain there for. Stories of train personnel hiding because they had no idea what was going on either.

I always tried to keep my passengers up to date, even if it was something simple like arriving at a timing point fairly early. Cary Parade as an example. At quiet periods it was possible to arrive here up to 5 minutes early. Many passengers would be getting of at the next stop in Fleet St which is only a hundred and fifty metres round the corner. In these instances I would stick my head out of the cab and shout, “The bus will be here for 5 minutes.” Passengers could then make an informed choice. Get off and walk or wait. I have been passenger on buses in this situation and the driver has said nothing then moaned when he set off and the bell would ring. “Why didn’t they get of and walk?” The reason was the didn’t know how long the wait would be because no one had told them. Other times Were when the bus was on a diversion. I would always tell passengers as they got on the bus would be diverted for part of the route, then at the last stop before the diversion I would explain where we were going and where we would get back onto the normal route. One time there were road works on Lymington Rd, a water main had burst and the bus would be missing out 3 stops. I'd finished work and was going home but knew about the problem. The driver never said anything and went on the alternative route and would have carried passengers a long way away from their stop if I hadn’t told them. Now I never learnt this art of communication from Stagecoach. It was never mentioned in training, I just worked it out for myself.

Hopefully in view of the Eurostar report transport operators will have a look at their own procedures and training with a view to seeing how/if they can be improved and not just think, “There but for the grace of god go I.”

1 comment:

Lord Hutton said...

Which was why you were a good bus driver, and shows that we dont need to invest in expensive electronics if the customer service is good.