What monitoring is there of the performance of the private companies which run our bus services? Is there a mechanism in place to penalise companies which provide poor service?
Is there any way by which the public can influence whether contracts are renewed?
I am dependent on the 111 and 216 routes. I have learned not to expect too much, but I witnessed two events last Friday evening which epitomised what is wrong with the bus companies. After waiting 10 minutes for a bus, a 216 drew up. The indicator read “Hampton station.” I had never known this bus to terminate at Hampton. But terminate it did. The passengers got off and the bus moved on. Five minutes later the 111 drew up. It also indicated it was terminating at Hampton. The passengers got off. The driver opened the front doors but instead of telling the 10 people waiting in the cold what was going on, he pulled out a cigarette and put it in his mouth. Baffled, I asked him what was happening. In a less than civil tone, he told me he was having a break. It didn’t seem to occur to him to let us board. When he’d finished his cigarette, he closed the doors, changed the indicator and got back into his seat. Then he opened the doors and let us on.
When I had done my shopping at Nurserylands and was returning, there were three buses waiting at the bus stop. The two at the back pulled out and moved off. The one at the front was about to do the same when I rushed across the road and stopped it. The driver told me there had been an accident at Heston. The woman opposite me said her journey normally took 35 minutes, but she had been on the bus for one hour 35 minutes. Accidents happen all the time. The bus companies would appear not to have any contingency plan to deal with them.
I ask a simple question: is this type of thing acceptable from a Government-created private monopoly?