Birthday Celebrations

On the 10th November 2008 this blog will be a year old and I would like to do a special bumper “Ask The Driver” to celebrate.

 

I would love it if you could please send in yours, even if you have never done so before, as soon as you can. It doesn’t matter how odd they seem, in fact the odder the better. I would like anything that you have ever wanted to ask a bus driver but were afraid to.

 

I always enjoy answering them and if you have never sent me a question before why not make this edition your first.

 

Thanks everyone now get those thinking hats on and ask away.

Ask The Driver (26)

 

Just the two questions this week.

 

Podnosh: Is £37 billion enough to stabilize the banking system?

Well I did say that you could ask me anything so I suppose I’d better answer. Honestly I am not sure if it will do anything to help. It seems to me to be too little too late. I wonder if something could have been done earlier to prevent the help package being needed. Perhaps if the government had noticed what was happening over in the USA and taken measures earlier the situation would be different.

 

digibrum_si: Just what would you have to do to earn £2000/month as a bus driver then?

Yikes this involved me doing maths, not something that I am that good at. I have worked out what sort of hours are involved for this magic £2000 and I am assuming that it is pre-tax. I am a little reluctant to post the exact details up here but I will say that it involves a lot of overtime almost every week even for someone who has been with the company for a few years and has worked their way up the pay scales. If you do want to know the exact details drop me an e-mail and Ill send them to you.

11-11-11

On 11th November 2008 a group of people from Birmingham will be doing something different. They hope to spend 11 hours on the 11C starting at 11am hoping to create a picture of sorts of the city and have a laugh doing it.

Full details can be found over at elevenbus.co.uk

Even though I will be working that morning and not able to board at 11am I hope to join the crowd somewhere along the route and celebrate a unique event.

You can also buy yourself some wonderful items to celebrate at the shop. I have my eyes on T-shirt or hoodie.

Thanks to Jon Bounds of BiNS for the site and idea.

Ask The Driver 25

Just a couple of questions this week

 

charlottecarey: I always think it rather affectionate that people call the driver ‘Drive’ like ‘thanks Drive’ is it actually really annoying?

I know a few drivers that don’t like it, but I don’t mind it at all. It’s better than “mate” and a lot better than some of the other things I have been called in the past. The “thanks” in itself is enough for me and that’s the one that I hear the most of during the day.

 

katchooo: How do I safely tell an annoying fellow passenger to shut the f*ck up?

It depends on what they are doing. If they are playing music out of their phone sometimes a “can you put your headphones on” works. If they are actually talking on the phone they may not even be aware that they are that loud and a gentle “can you keep it down” may work. If it is just them being noisy then it’s a whole different story. They can be classed as causing annoyance to other passengers which is not allowed on the bus. Everyone has the right to travel safely. Perhaps a quiet word if they having a loud conversation with someone else. If they are just shouting and screaming at other passengers for no reason then I would suggest talking to the driver. Sometimes just a word from them is enough, if that fails to work then the can call the police via the radio and let them deal with it. I hope this helps you out, if not feel free to contact me directly and explain the situation.

Passenger Types

I think that one of the strangest things that I have ever done while driving is come up with different names for the different types of passenger that I get. I thought that I would share some of them with you and see if you spot any on your next trip. Ill take you through a day from start to finish and list them in the order that I see them when they get onto my bus.

 

Early Mornings:

There are only a couple of types that I see here.

 

Long Distance Commuter:

Usually in a suit but not yet wearing a tie as has at least a 2 hour commute to get into work Very grumpy if the bus is more than 2 minutes late as the connections are very close and any delay will add time. Usually on a mobile phone and very annoyed with anyone and the world. Usually has a travel card but when paying with cash never says anything and expects a ticket before paying. Ant attempt at communication is met with a blank look as you are not using a mobile phone. Sometimes, though, can be quite friendly.

 

Shift Worker

Ah these are interesting. They are either going home or going to work. If they are going home they can be very quiet and will try and get on using yesterdays evening saver ticket that they bought on the way to work last night. Usually they will leave yesterdays paper behind as well. If they are going to work they can be cheerful and chatty. Most of the time they will say good morning as they are one of the few that understand how hard it can be to get up in the morning. They can usually be found carrying some sort of thermos mug or flask.

 

Student

These are an interesting type. If they get on early in the morning they tend to be very bleary eyed and have the rabbit caught in the headlights look. Most of the time they carry some sort of folder and never seem to dress for the weather

 

Day Time

Ah the day duties. These bring out the largest variety of passengers and are the most fun for me to drive as they tend to be a little friendlier towards me.

 

Twirly/OAP

These are one and the same but have two names owing to their pass not being valid until 9:30am. Usually they are not too bad about it and only try just before knowing that most drivers have a soft heart and will let them on. Having said that the record for being a twirly goes to a very grumpy man that I saw a few weeks ago wanting to use his pass at 6:30am and when he was told that he was three hours early started to swear at me. Once the passes are valid they come out in droves usually going to a major shopping center to collect their pensions. They are a wonderful lot until they come out with their trolleys. Those things are annoying always getting in the way of other passengers and blocking up the isle despite repeated warnings not to. I did have to stop an argument between a young mother with a buggy and a pensioner with a trolley. They were arguing over one f the buggy spaces when all the others were free. I thing the mom was must annoyed that the pensioner had taken up two spots with her trolley but I can’t remember too much. Most of them are understanding and will move when buggies get on but there are some out there that wont. The pensioner is also one of the friendliest passengers always saying thank you to the driver and sometimes taking the time out to say hello as well. There is an old lady on my route that always stops for a chat when n she gets on. It brightens my day up a lot when I see her as she always has a kind word or two for me.

 

Mother with buggies

These can go two different ways. When they are travelling to a shopping centre everything is ok and they are fairly happy but once they are on the way back all hell can break loose. You cant get the step lowered for them quick enough when they get off and they wont wait so usually one of the wheels gets caught underneath and you have to raise it again and then lower it. They overload the buggies handles with shopping bags and then wonder why it tips over when the child gets out. Having said all that there are a few nice ones out there. They take the time to say thanks for lowering the step and are prepared to wait for you to lower it when the get off. The worst one I ever encountered as a young mother that got on with a screaming baby in a buggy. She yelled at the person sitting in the buggy space, not even giving them time to get up and move. Once the buggy was parked she left it and the screaming child and went upstairs. I was about to follow when another passenger, this one a pensioner, went up after her. She was dragged back down by her coat and told to deal with her son and not to leave him there just so she could go and listen to music.

 

Drunks

Yes, that’s right I get them in the middle of the day as well as on the night shift. They are different to those in a couple of ways. Firstly they are usually very quiet and the only way you can tell is when they get on you can smell it on them. They usually pay the correct fare as well and that shocks me every time. They keep to themselves for the most part and don’t cause any trouble.

The other sot of drunk is the polar opposite though. They’re always very loud and want to put the world to rights over some Injustice that they have been done. They will want and get on with whatever drink they are carrying and it’s usually in a glass bottle. Once I say that they can’t bring it on they get even louder and start to direct all the abuse at me usually ending with trying to spit at me through the assault screen.

 

The Unemployed

This class is probably one of them most common and probably the most well behaved. They usually have an off peak travel car and stick to the hours it is valid for. They keep to themselves for the most part and only talk to the driver to ask directions. Always quiet except for the odd one or two that have music playing from their phones but will turn them off when asked.

 

School Kids

Ahh these are the worst. Usually they have little or no respect for others. They will force their way to the front of the line of people standing waiting at the bus stop. The passes are usually out of date and when asked to see tem again will get very offended before admitting they are out of date and then try the “oh come on driver let me off this one time” line to get on. Once on the bus they have little or no respect for other passengers playing music from their phones at very high volumes and not turning it off until the driver stops the bus and demands it. They can usually be found smoking something at the back of the upper deck although they will deny it right up to the moment the police arrive. Having sad all that there are some model students around that pay the right fare and respect others but they are a rare breed and I have only seen one so far.

 

Afternoon Shift Workers

A wonderful lot these are. They are either going home from work having arrived early in the morning or heading to work for a long ting that will end around midnight. Most of them have time to say hello when they get and respond to smiles very well. They will usually help out when the driver has a problem with other passengers and will happily spare a moment or two to talk to the driver. They can usually be seen carrying a hot mug of some sort usually full of tea or coffee and sometimes, and this is a very rare but not unwelcome gift, will ring one for the driver.

 

Workers going home

These are very similar to the workers that have to catch the early morning bus and if they are not found waiting at the stop they are going to be running for it from some direction even risking their safety by running across the road to catch the bus that is loading up. Usually they have a travel card and because they use it all the time they sometimes forget to have it ready but it is found very quickly. They keep to themselves for the most part only saying something when someone holds up the bus when they refuse to pay.

 

Pro Fare Dodgers

A unique breed this, they can only be found trying to get on during the evening rush and are very quick. Their usual tactic is to push into a crowd that is getting on and keep their head down. If they get caught they will then state “I have already shown you my pass driver” if that fails to work they will then get very aggressive as they think that causing a scene in the mile of a crowded bus will shame the driver. This usually consists of them shouting and screaming at the top of their voices and throwing things at the driver. If the driver still refuses to let them on then they will turn to the other passengers for help before getting off. Each one of these has their own way and I have seen everything. I have had people pretend not to hear me, trying to pass off a hand drawn fake travel card as the real thing, flashing an empty travel card holder, a man using a woman’s oap pass right up to using a till receipt for 20 cans of beer.

 

And finally we come to those that only come out after 8pm

 

The lost

These are very unfortunate souls that have been travelling around the network all day without reaching their destination. They start out fairly cheerful but by this point in the day they ate totally fed up and just want to get to where they are going. They will ask when they get on if you go near it and look very relieved when you say yes. Sadly they then get annoying by coming up after every stop and asking how long till you get there. The only way to deal with them is to patiently inform them that there is x minutes left and that they will be called when it is time to get off. They are usually grateful, but there the odd one or two that will take out the days frustrations on you.

 

Night Security Guards

Not seen very often but are usually larger men that don’t speak very much. They are prepared to help out if someone causes a problem and that usually means that the driver won’t have to get out of the cab. It’s like having a bouncer on the bus.

 

Drunks

These crop up more often at night than during the day and can be quite a pain. They usually don’t have any sort of pass although they will search for one before realizing and paying. If questioned about the pass they will lean on the assault screen and slur through “its here somewhere” usually after belching and filling the cab with fumes. They can also be very quiet if left alone. When getting off the bus the driver has to be careful to stop as close to the kirb as possible and away from any lampposts just in case the drunk slips, and they will, so they don’t injure themselves.

 

Of course the most common form of passenger that I meet on my travels is the nice passenger. They are friendly towards both the driver and other passenger. They will always have the correct fare or their pass ready. If they are playing any music it is through headphones and they will take one of them out when hey get on just incase the driver has to say something to them. For the most part they keep to themselves and only speak up when there is a problem and then only to stand up for the driver. They generally know what time the bus is due but if it is late will accept the explanation providing it is a good one. Finally they mostly say “thanks” to the driver and compliment him/her if the ride was especially good.

Ask The Driver 24

Apologies for the delay in getting this one done but I had a few issues and lost the questions several times. If I have missed yours please let me know and Ill put it in this weeks.

 

ellielovell How often do TWM clean buses (inside and out) as sometimes you can barely see out the window?

Most of the buses are swept out every night when they get back into the garage. They also usually go through a wash but that is not every bus every night as that would take too long. I think that it averages out at about once a month. At that stage they also go through a “Deep clean” where the whole bus is cleaned over including mopping the floors and removing any stubborn graffiti that wasn’t removed on the usual nightly clean

 

Bounder Cheeky I know, but what’s the font that TWM use for the numbers on bus stops?

Honestly I have no idea and I’m afraid that I wont be able to find out for you as it is Centro that maintains the stops not TWM.

 

lizzzardbits Yesterday you tweeted that the gusts are pretty bad, do you ever worry that the bus will tip over?

Sometimes I am. When it gets very windy and just the upper deck is full it can feel like the bus is leaning over much more than usual. The single deck buses that I drive also tilt alarmingly when you go round a corner at any speed. I have not heard of any type tipping over yet but there is always a first time.