Complaints against London's bus drivers on the rise

Passengers board a London bus Image copyright AFP
Image caption Passengers most commonly complain about drivers being rude or failing to stop

I've been given details of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the BBC's FOI unit about the types and number of complaints being made against bus drivers in London.

What it shows is that the number of complaints is increasing. It also outlines the wide and varied number of complaints being made by passengers.

Overall, there have been 66,000 complaints in the last three years. The number of complaints from 2009 to 2010 has increased and it looks likely to stay at around the same level for 2011.

Number of complaints by year:

  • 2009 - 23,862
  • 2010 - 26,067
  • 2011 (until 5 July) - 13,698

The FOI breakdown also shows which routes have generated the most complaints since November 2008:

  • Route 73 - 549
  • Route 38 - 426
  • Route 19 - 424
  • Route 94 - 402
  • Route 188 - 370
  • Route 205 - 367
  • Route 57 - 359
  • Route 82 - 348
  • Route 381 - 343
  • Route 176 - 336

As you can see, the 73, which used to be a bendy bus route, is the most complained-about. That goes from Seven Sisters to Victoria. It's not surprising as it's a very busy route that goes through the centre of the city.

Below is the breakdown of the type of complaints since November 2008.

The top complaint is the "attitude of the driver" with 22,542 complaints by passengers. That's followed by the bugbear of drivers failing to stop.

Lower down are complaints about staff smoking, staff appearance and 33 complaints about a lack of toilets on buses. Do any public buses (not coaches) in the world have toilets?

Here is a full breakdown by nature of complaint:

  • Driver - Attitude/Rude Behaved 22,542
  • Driver - Failure to Stop/Not Picking Up 20,657
  • Driver - Poor/Dangerous Driving 10,997
  • Driver - Fares Issue 3,627
  • Driver - Refusing Wheelchair/Pushchair 1,551
  • Driver - Early run/late run 1,272
  • ZSERVICE/Not assigned 1,216
  • Driver - Insufficient time to Board/Alig 1,193
  • Driver - Engine run on stand 1,180
  • Driver - Deviate from Route 914
  • Driver - Discriminatory Behaviour 523
  • Driver - Radio/Phone/PA 274
  • Driver - Alleged Assault 241
  • Driver - Vehicle Moved Off Too Quickly 166
  • Driver - Smoking 165
  • Driver - Staff Smoking 137
  • Driver - Securing Wheelchair 56
  • Driver - Lack of Toilet facilities 33
  • Driver - Appearance 33

Driving a bus is not an easy job, but the number of complaints will be a cause for concern at Transport for London and the bus companies. Let me know what you think.

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