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From: The Socialist issue 844, 18 February 2015: Fight for decent pay, jobs and benefits

Search site for keywords: London - Drivers - US - Stress

"Driver, why are you late?"

Clapton bus garage, photo Paul Mattsson

Clapton bus garage, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

A London bus driver

When I was new to bus driving, it wound me up when bus controllers asked: "Driver, why are you late?" I'm driving a busy bus in lots of traffic and the timetable is almost impossible to keep to.

Most controllers are ex-drivers trying to earn a crust like us. They know the hold-ups but from their viewpoint they need to know the specific delays. Even so, some controllers seem fuelled with hostility towards drivers.

Now when I hear "why are you late" on the bus radio I start explaining what happened at every stop; every old lady who had to fumble for her bus pass, then I'd wait for her to sit down.

And every parent with a child in a buggy who struggles through a crowded bus to park it safely in the wheelchair space before I could move off. I explain the traffic delays at every junction and every set of traffic lights.

When the controller realises that a full reply to his question would further delay the bus, he gives me the benefit of the doubt and lets me get on with my job!

I always encourage drivers (and controllers!) to do the job exactly as they trained you.

Some people say I'm on a permanent work to rule. I say you'll have more stress and more accidents if you rush and try to do the impossible. Part of building a strong union is giving every worker the confidence not to be bullied.

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