James Gleave rant the bus industry needs to take notice of, and ultimately, do something about

Of the people we follow on Twitter, most are public transport professionals or those in the fields advertising and marketing.

One is a guy called James Gleave. He works in the transport industry and for the past year or so has been commuting by bus three times a week. Earlier this week he published a Twitter thread of his experience. His tweets, published below in chronological order and exactly as they were written, don't make great reading for the industry.
  • Just for background, my typical route is 1 hour or more on an interurban bus in a largely rural area. With one of the big operators. With some urban trips and entirely rural trips interspersed in it.
  • The customer experience provided by operators is, by and large, bad. Not everything is in their control like traffic, but even the basic minimum to manage it and inform customers is beyond them.
  • Bus not turning up? “Sorry mate, what can we do?” Try something. Encourage people to sign up for alerts, provide a real time feed, put something on your fucking website. Anything. Don’t leave people in the lurch.
  • The worst example was a local operator - who will remain nameless - who said I would need to travel 20 miles to their depot to get a refund on a £4.50 ticket for a bus that never turned up. Considering that’s half of my day gone, I’ll just never travel with you again.
  • Lack of integrated ticketing goes without saying. The only way through ticketing is enabled is by one operator dominating all major routes. Yay for on street competition in the public interest.
  • The ride quality of your average bus is also shocking. Potholes I can understand. But if the surface of the road is slightly uneven the whole bus shudders loudly. Even newer buses, that whilst nice are still not great.
  • The bus driver, more often than not, makes or breaks the trip. A good driver who is polite, even jovial, is a bloody pleasure and can put a smile on your face. A bad one is at best a put off, at worst terrifying.
  • I actually feel pity for them. They have to be cashier, security guard, mechanic and a customer service rep, all the while driving a massive vehicle around roads that are congested and full of people who can’t park for shit.
  • Like most transport companies, bus operators don’t realise that the customer only use them for part of their journey. Screwing up is an inconvenience for the operator, but screws up the day of the passengers. The response? A shrug.
  • Finally, the operations provided give the feeling of an industry on life support. They barely keep they schedule together, do little to care for their customers, and do nothing that was an extra a few years back but is now essential, like open data.
  • It reeks of defeat. Of not caring. Yes, there are good operators out there doing good stuff, like Reading Buses, Trent Barton, and Brighton Buses. But they are the exception, and only excel because they get the basics right. That speaks volumes.
  • I’m not sure if local authority control of buses will help. It may tweak some operational issues and provide integrated ticketing. But I’m not sure it will give the root and branch change it needs
  • Buses at their best are excellent, but even okay seems beyond most operators. Sod money, sod structural changes, sod regulation. What buses need is a massive kick up the backside from someone. Anyone. Otherwise the industry will die. /rant
Interesting to see that James believes the operators who are succeeding are those doing the basics right. Think we might have mentioned this fact once or twice in the past.

To see the full thread including replies, have a look at @jamesgleave1on Twitter.

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