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Bus drivers trained in the art of conflict resolution

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Tom Edwards Tom Edwards | 10:53 UK time, Tuesday, 16 November 2010

We've probably all seen it. A passenger starts giving a bus driver some hassle and abuse - perhaps they didn't realise they can't pay cash on a bendy bus - and then they storm off into the night.

Sometimes it does end worse than that, with the passenger physically assaulting the driver or verbally abusing them.

We've just received a FOI request on the numbers of assaults that happen on bus drivers and it makes interesting reading.

Bus Driver Assaults - 2007/08 to 2009/10

  • 2007/08 - Bus Driver Assaults - 1642

  • 2008/09 - Bus Driver Assaults - 1462

  • 2009/10 - Bus Driver Assaults - 1160

So some good news there for bus drivers. The number of assaults (physical and verbal) is coming down.

There could be a few reasons for the drop.

More of a police presence on the network perhaps? And the London bus fleet has had CCTV systems fitted since 2005.

Also a new unheralded unit that deals with these kind of problems was introduced in September 2008.

It's called the Workplace Violence Unit (WVU) and was launched in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to investigate assaults on bus staff.

A spokesman told us:

"The WVU is a victim-focused unit seeking to standardise and support MPS borough investigations of workplace violence recorded against customer-facing TfL surface transport staff.

It offers support to borough Telephone Investigation Bureaus (TIBs) and Crime Investigation Units with a view to assisting investigations of violent crime committed against bus staff, as well as encouraging drivers to report any such incidents.

Additionally, we aim to prepare drivers for any difficult situations that may arise. All new London bus drivers must achieve the BTEC Intermediate Award in Professional London Bus Service Delivery within their first year of service. This includes training in conflict resolution. All new drivers from September 2009 will have received this training."

I've highlighted one bit in that paragraph. Most bus drivers are now trained in "conflict resolution."

I've been told many times by passengers that some bus drivers can make matters worse by reacting the wrong way to an issue. Sometimes much worse as this article shows.

At least there is now training to highlight what these drivers will expect and training on how to resolve the problem. Is that why the figures are coming down?

Let me know what you think.

Follow me on Twitter: @TomSEdwards

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