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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 April 2017

Reader's comment: public transport

Buses and buggies: a driver speaks

London bus, photo Graham Richardson (Creative Commons)

London bus, photo Graham Richardson (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

'Alfred Babcock', bus driver, London

Angry letters in free London newspaper Metro this January asserted the rights of bus passengers with baby buggies. Other irate letters demanded priority for wheelchair users. This cacophony echoed the real arguments I hear on the bus I drive.

Wheelchair user Doug Paulley originally went to court after he was refused entry to a Yorkshire FirstGroup bus in 2012 when a mother with a pushchair refused to move. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that bus drivers are responsible for pressuring other passengers to move if a wheelchair user can't get on.

Heated

A dispute between a wheelchair user and a person with a buggy can generally be resolved amicably - especially when passengers realise my bus isn't moving until it is. But when things get more heated you really need a quiet word with the people involved to calm things down and resolve the matter.

Ironically, the people who could do that - conductors - were phased out as low-floor, wheelchair-accessible buses came to London.

I'm not allowed to leave the cab and I've no powers of enforcement - so how am I expected to sort out a dispute five metres behind me which I may not even be able to see?

Once the argument's over, if I still can't fit the wheelchair, I have to call the controller before I leave the stop. This seldom elicits a rapid reply from the controller. But understandably, it does provoke rapid enquiries from passengers as to why the bus is not moving.

And at a later stage I'll get questions from the controllers about why my bus is late. Meanwhile, management forces us to drive busy buses in heavy traffic up to the legal maximum five and a half hours without a break.

It's time to look at the bigger picture. Workers and poor people who use public transport shouldn't have to squabble with each other. Wheelchair users, parents with buggies and bus drivers are not enemies.

What we need is a massive expansion of public transport so there's room for all. Public services should be taken away from the private profiteers.

We need a party that represents the 99% which can fight against budget cuts and for public ownership.

The lorry driver unloading cases of burgers outside McDonald's and blocking my bus stop is another example of unplanned capitalism blindly setting workers against each other. It's not the lorry driver's fault.

In a planned socialist society, pensioners wouldn't need to get on buses with big trolleys they can hardly lift. They wouldn't need to go miles to the nearest supermarket because local shops have been pushed out of business and the ones that are left cost the earth.

A socialist society could bring many workers a shorter working week with no loss of pay so people wouldn't have to rush about so much. Then passengers and transport workers wouldn't be constantly put in situations where they find themselves in conflict.

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In The Socialist 19 April 2017:


What we think

Defeat the millionaires' Tory government


Socialist Party news and analysis

900 carers quit a day - nationalise social care now

Fight the Sun's bigoted lies

Benefits workers oppose 'rape clause' and two-child limit

Joint struggle can stop tuition fee interest hike

Them & Us


Jobstown Not Guilty

Protest is not a crime: back Jobstown Not Guilty


Save our NHS

What kind of movement is needed to save our NHS?


International socialist news and analysis

Trump escalates geopolitical tensions on Korean peninsula

Turkey: constitutional referendum result a pyrrhic victory for Erdogan

French presidential election: Mélenchon campaign gains momentum

Relaunch of socialistworld.net


Workplace news and analysis

CWU conference: fight Royal Mail pension attack

Workers sailing to victory on Woolwich ferry

PCS ballot papers out: vote Democracy Alliance

Weapons workers continue pension strike

Mood for a fightback at education conferences

Picturehouse cinema strike spreads

National Shop Stewards Network conference 2017


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Mass movements, not 'fringe cultures', can win feminist change

Buses and buggies: a driver speaks

The Socialist inbox


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

TUSC backs RMT Save Our Guards campaign, while local Labour Party blocks debate

Energetic start to TUSC local election campaigning

Doncaster mayoral election: Socialist Steve campaign diary

TUSC council candidate vows never to go to the 'dark side'!


 

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