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Please treat our bus drivers with respect

By Ryoma 3 August 2011 51

I have just come to work on a bus. As I was late (again!), I only just managed to catch it, and spent the first five minutes panting for breath.

But at one intersection, the bus driver hesitated as to where to go, and a guy sitting behind me roared out words to the effect of “turn left, you idiot”. The bus driver answered “OK, just needed to let that car go past” (which was true), which led to another round from Mr. Bozo along the lines of “hurry up, get on with it”.

The bus driver asked him to sit down and let him concentrate on the road, which caused another lady to have a crack at him. Things then went quiet until the end of the journey in a town centre. Fortunately the large male bozo got off with no further comment, but the lady wanted to let the bus driver have it. She said various choice words, and suggested that she would report him.

I was next in line to get off the bus, but after she’d stormed off, I thanked the bus driver and said I was sorry that people thought it was OK to be so rude. He thanked me for my concern, and explained that he’d been telephoned at 5.30am this morning to fill in for a sick colleague, but that he usually drove buses right at the other end of Canberra. Given that my office is only half-full at present given the numbers of people sick with winter cold and flu, this sounded plausible. I said to the driver I’d back him up if a complaint was made, and wished him a better day ahead.

On my arrival at work, I called the number he’d given me, and explained what had happened (from my point of view) to his supervisor. The supervisor explained that the guy had actually retired 3 years ago, but was on stand-by if they got stuck, and had been driving for 30-plus years. He thanked me for giving positive feedback, and would talk to the driver in question to see if he was OK.

The other bus-related thing this morning was to see a young man wearing headphones nearly get wiped out by a bus near the crossing to my office. This person walked straight out against a red pedestrian light, and didn’t look to his left at all. I screamed “”STOP!” and put my hands up, but he kept coming – and the bus missed him by less than a foot. 

Perhaps at times, some of our bus drivers can be a bit grumpy or lazy. Perhaps at times they run late, or they look as if they’d rather be doing anything else than driving a bus. Perhaps we feel we should have a better public transport service. But I’ve also met drivers at other times who are cheerful, friendly, and helpful.

However, these people are what allows us to actually have a public transport system at all. Given what their job involves – wrestling 10 tonnes of metal through an increasingly congested city for hours on end, and dealing with the general public – I suggest that many of us are not keen on doing either task, or the tasks of many people who work in other service industries.

So the next time you think about having a go at someone in a service role, especially with the excuse of “it’s their job”, a bit of humility and compassion would not go astray. It’s been a while, but my work experiences in these industries when I was younger shows me that such jobs are often a lot harder than they look on the surface…and the memories of how badly I did at many of them still haunt me…

Where would we be without bus drivers/waitresses/cleaning staff and the like? We already have a skills shortage, and it’s going to get worse. Maybe it’s time we gave these people the respect and consideration we’d like to recieve ourselves in any given situation.


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Please treat our bus drivers with respect
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what_the 10:09 am 13 Aug 11

gazket said :

Why do buses only do 50 kp/h all the way to Gungahlin from Ginnenderra drive Belconnen yet can do 60 kp/h through the roundabouts so you can’t pass them. I see this every morning at 6:40 am .

Psst, ever noticed the please do not overtake turning vehicle signs on the back of buses?

Jaleekay 9:05 am 13 Aug 11

Ryoma, I totally agree with your post. Some people are infact very rude towards bus drivers – I find this especially the case when occassionally catching any of the 300 buses. The express buses aren’t so bad – every one on those ones are nice to each other as well as the bus driver. I don’t understand how people can have the nerve to talk to the bus drivers the way they do, or swear at them as I have seen before on the 300 buses. Please people – treat the bus drivers with respect. They’re there to assist you with your transportation needs. And they’re people just like us and they deserve respect!

BigDave 8:23 pm 11 Aug 11

What an excellent post, Ryoma! Lessons for us all to learn.
I’ll show it to my dad who happens to be probably the nicest bus driver you’ll meet. And he’s part of a MAJORITY of that type!
What a shame that this thread, as with others on this subject, has been hijacked by the usual Anti-Action keyboard heroes…

Feng 12:22 pm 05 Aug 11

Jivrashia said :

Feng said :

In many ways, people don’t hate bus drivers

SHOOT. THE. MESSENGER.

At least that’s the age old adage.

Or was there a “don’t” as a prefix…? I’ve forgotten…

Again, read my post in full. It’s not just about shooting the messenger if all the messenger did was deliver the message. It’s because the messenger delivered the message with rudeness that caused them to be shot all the time. E.g. Adhering to stupid protocols without explaining why thus being unhelpful.

Watson 11:53 am 05 Aug 11

Skidd Marx said :

How about we just treat everyone with respect, bus drivers included?

+1

And even if some are grumpy sometimes, it’s always going to be counterproductive to react aggressively. My strategy with cranky pants staff is always to become more and more cheerful and polite. If it doesn’t guilt them into lifting their game, at least I can get satisfaction out of the fact that my insufferable cheefulness must have annoyed them immensely. 😉

Skidd Marx 11:25 am 05 Aug 11

How about we just treat everyone with respect, bus drivers included?

Cantoangel 10:24 am 05 Aug 11

I’m glad you took the time to do this – and to highlight the fact that the services industry is just as important as whatever industry we work in.

I reckon everyone should be forced to do work experience in a services role just to understand how challenging it can be.

However, there *was* one incident where I was crossing Mort Street with the GREEN pedestrian lights…I had to stop walking (and stand in the middle of the street) as the bus driver decided to just turn his bus in front of my colleague and I. I wrote to ACTION but never received a reply. You get bad and good bus drivers I suppose.

Mr Gillespie 10:14 am 05 Aug 11

Jethro said :

…….I was always under the impression your preferred mode of transport would be a white Holden Commodore, not a pushy/bus combo. 🙂

On that particular day, I had to go to a place where there was no parking for miles all round (unless I was prepared to pay through the nose), and it was too hot to ride all the way to Civic, and for your information I don’t own a Holden Commodore.

Innovation 9:31 am 05 Aug 11

I’ve found this thread very interesting and informative. Kudos to Ryoma. No one should be treated like dirt. We all experience people that annoy us but it is rarely intentional and, while it is appropriate to let those people know when we are not happy with something, it is completely unneccessary to insult them or abuse them.

As for ACTION, most drivers and passengers I encounter are very considerate and polite. The problem is that the attitude and behaviour of a few can ruin the reputation of many. As has been pointed out here, ACTION has fundamental flaws in design and accountability, which no one individual is responsible for. I’m sure that many people vent their accumulated frustrations on bus drivers, especially if the driver is only human and has made a mistake, because these are the only people that those bus users ever deal with.

Darkfalz 1:33 am 05 Aug 11

I’m never rude to bus drivers, they’ve got a s*** job (which pays well enough, mind) and have to deal with refuse (some routes are significantly worse than others). Only problems I’ve had is when a bus right out of the depot decides he’s going to leave 5 minutes early in the morning, so I get to watch it whiz past on my way to the stop. This tends to happen early morning. On another occasion the driver decided he’d take a shortcut to the interchange and ignore my stop, so I reported him. Generally these are good folks though, and they put up with enough s***. I remember one moron on Northbourne avenue, way late for the bus and trying to flag him down about 20 metres after it had departed the stop, actually jumped in front of it and banged on the window, causing the driver to have to stop suddenly and jolt all the passengers.

Jivrashia 11:14 pm 04 Aug 11

Feng said :

In many ways, people don’t hate bus drivers

SHOOT. THE. MESSENGER.

At least that’s the age old adage.

Or was there a “don’t” as a prefix…? I’ve forgotten…

Feng 10:05 pm 04 Aug 11

Bussie said :

MarkN said :

Well I had the experience of seeing a young asian girl trying to put her bike at the front of a bus in Kingston. After noticing the Bus driver not moving as she struggled to work out how to put her bike on the front, I offered to help and pulled the holder down for her but I couldn’t work out how to put the bike on. Eventually the bus driver, obviously annoyed, got out of his seat and put the bike on the holder and locked it in place.

And this experience is what shapes both the young girls and my opinion of bus drivers. Pity.

Have a look at the yellow sign underneath the coin tray. It basically says the driver is not allowed to help you with your bikes, prams, luggage etc. That’s not to say that I and my colleagues will never help a passenger with their stuff but don’t expect us to do so.

Hah. Enough said. It’s an interesting dynamic there isn’t it. You work for a branch of the ACT government (or so appears by your website with act.gov.au) so there is a culture to follow protocols and procedures. Fair enough. Yet you’re an organisation that needs to generate a profit so that it doesn’t always lose the money given by taxpayers. So normally, you’d do this by promoting and enhancing customer service so that customers generate goodwill towards the organisation and is willing to use the services of the organisation. Yet, because you have a monopoly, there isn’t a choice so you don’t actually have to make any serious efforts to improve your processes. This in turn causes the community to hate you and thus unwilling to use your services which makes you lose money all the time. In addition, your unwillingness to improve your own services and standards contributes to your own demise.

And you wonder why people hate ACTION and direct insults at those on the frontline for ACTION?

In many ways, people don’t hate bus drivers, they hate ACTION for the reasons I have outlined. However, the attitude you just displayed in adhering to ‘stupid’ protocols such as ‘don’t expect us to help you for using our services because we have a monopoly and therefore we don’t have to care or improve’ makes people hate you along with ACTION.

Perhaps rather than doing things for people, why not just stand there and instruct them on what to do. While you’re giving the instructions, you can explain why you can’t help? Perhaps people will be more appreciative of your situation? Just put yourself in the shoes of those who have complained against ACTION and see how you would like to be treated.

Jethro 9:58 pm 04 Aug 11

Mr Gillespie said :

That sounds pretty much like my experience of when I put my bike on the bike rack of a bus at Belconnen Interchange — the bus driver got annoyed with me and put the bike on the rack himself instead of paying me the courtesy of teaching me properly how to do it myself (was he in a rush or just plain impatient?).

I was always under the impression your preferred mode of transport would be a white Holden Commodore, not a pushy/bus combo. 🙂

Bussie 9:32 pm 04 Aug 11

MarkN said :

Well I had the experience of seeing a young asian girl trying to put her bike at the front of a bus in Kingston. After noticing the Bus driver not moving as she struggled to work out how to put her bike on the front, I offered to help and pulled the holder down for her but I couldn’t work out how to put the bike on. Eventually the bus driver, obviously annoyed, got out of his seat and put the bike on the holder and locked it in place.

And this experience is what shapes both the young girls and my opinion of bus drivers. Pity.

Have a look at the yellow sign underneath the coin tray. It basically says the driver is not allowed to help you with your bikes, prams, luggage etc. That’s not to say that I and my colleagues will never help a passenger with their stuff but don’t expect us to do so.

Northsidechick 9:21 pm 04 Aug 11

Great article, and I agree with you fully.

Mr Gillespie 9:08 pm 04 Aug 11

That sounds pretty much like my experience of when I put my bike on the bike rack of a bus at Belconnen Interchange — the bus driver got annoyed with me and put the bike on the rack himself instead of paying me the courtesy of teaching me properly how to do it myself (was he in a rush or just plain impatient?).

MarkN 8:11 pm 04 Aug 11

Well I had the experience of seeing a young asian girl trying to put her bike at the front of a bus in Kingston. After noticing the Bus driver not moving as she struggled to work out how to put her bike on the front, I offered to help and pulled the holder down for her but I couldn’t work out how to put the bike on. Eventually the bus driver, obviously annoyed, got out of his seat and put the bike on the holder and locked it in place.

And this experience is what shapes both the young girls and my opinion of bus drivers. Pity.

gazket 8:11 pm 04 Aug 11

Why do buses only do 50 kp/h all the way to Gungahlin from Ginnenderra drive Belconnen yet can do 60 kp/h through the roundabouts so you can’t pass them. I see this every morning at 6:40 am .

Feng 7:45 pm 04 Aug 11

KB1971 said :

Feng said :

shadow boxer said :

The bus driver asked him to sit down and let him concentrate on the road, which caused another lady to have a crack at him.

I doubt that’s what happened

I’m inclined to agree. Have you thought about why people are so rude to ACT bus drivers? I think we all understand the points you raise about common courtesy, politeness and treating others the way you want to be treated.

However, this epidemic of insult that is continuously hurled against ACT bus drivers exist for a reason. Want to know the reason? Because it’s not a few bad eggs taking up the majority of media attention but because the majority of ACT bus drivers are rude, offensive, inconsiderate, irresponsible and uncaring about the fact they work in a service based industry.

Over time, this attitude have resulted in extremely negative perception in nearly every sector of the ACT community. The poor behaviour you saw is not an isolated event – it’s the result of years after years of rude and offensive behaviour directed at the majority of the community.

ACTION needs to be dissolved to change this culture. It’s something that will always be a thorn in the current ACT administration until this happens. Trust me, without some serious restructuring, ACTION will never improve.

So, kudos to the good drivers out there but unfortunately, you’re in the minority and you’re colleagues are causing you to be put in the same baskets as all those bad ones.

ACTION = Crap.

Are you two for real???

Shadow boxer, you were not there so how would you know????

feng, grow up. If you treat a bus driver with this same attitude then no wonder you cop grief, any other service industry peronnel piss you off?

Grow up? I treat bus drivers badly? Read my post. I’ve putting forward my opinion on why bus drivers are treated badly not that I treat them badly. I treat others the way I want to be treated, which is with politeness and courtesy.

Perhaps I have exaggerated my post slightly but let me tell you, some of the experiences I have had with bus drivers in the ACT have been shocking. For example, I have seen on two occasions where buses have driven off with people in front of it (it was not full nor late which makes me unable to fathom why).

Now, don’t tell me ACTION is all good and great because it isn’t. A big part of the perception why it is so bad is due to the behaviour of its drivers (not all but many). Perhaps it’s because management fail to address the destructive culture within the organisation but hey, the driver’s attitude behaviour isn’t helping.

If we do a perception survey, I bet you driver attitude won’t rank very highly. I would say not as bad as some imagines but not highly and low enough for some serious culture change efforts. But hey, it’s ACTION, they have a monopoly. Why improve right?

Dissolve it I say!

Ryoma 5:53 pm 04 Aug 11

I really didn’t expect this conversation to go on for as long as it has 🙂

@Shadowboxer – I’m unable to give any more detail this long after the event, and I’ll grant you that this is only my perspective on what happened. If Mr Bozo and the lady involved were having their say, then of course their points of view would be just as valid as mine.

I also think you have a good point about ACTION not being what we’d like it to be. There are days when I wish I was back in Osaka, wating for the next clean and safe train to come along in 2 minutes time.

There are also days when I’d like to snarl at bus drivers, and especially at what passes for service in many of Canberra’s shops and restaurants.

But I’ve learnt that many of the people in these jobs are;
a) doing the best they can, and not surprisingly, being human, they have good days and bad days, just like me 🙂
b) often not allowed to, or possessed of enough training, to make a difference in a given situation – even though in many cases they may well like to do so.

When I complain, I usually try to stay calm and polite, and appeal to people’s better natures. I find that much of the time it gets me further than going off my block.

We all share the same city – and the daily decisions we make about how to react to things, add up to the culture of the place.

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