Friday, April 03, 2009

Regulating the Service

I don't know who dreams up these bus announcements, but they're surely having a laugh. The explanation for this morning's delay deserved a prize: 'This bus is being held here briefly to help regulate the service'

The incongruous female voice sounded like the one I'd just heard on Radio 4, saying 'Good Man' to some bloke called Sebastien. It just hiked up irritation levels.

Buses are more frequent nowdays and I love those shelters with signs that tell you how long before the next one arrives so you can take an interest in the countdown. It's good to have the stops announced in advance once you're on the bus, too, so you don't have to walk back to where you wanted to go.
It's a novelty to be given a reason for the delay, though. More often you're just told to get off. 'This bus terminates here', the driver shouts. 'There'll be another bus along in a few minutes.'

Regulating the speed at which drivers aim for the terminal is a good idea, especially if you're elderly, and daren't go upstairs in case you lose your grip as the driver whizzes round a corner. It's an improvement on buses travelling in pairs, picking up at alternate stops, with long gaps between.

I was on my way home from swimming, so wasn't worried when the 185 seemed not to move away from the stop. All around me, though, passengers were like meercats, straining to see if there was a bus following, so they could change and maybe get to work on time. I even got off myself, and then back on again when the doors started beeping.

So 'regulating the service', ie cancelling journeys mid-way or introducing false delays seems designed to keep commuter anxiety levels high, with passengers on the 'qui vive' in case they have to scramble at short notice.

I think they should do away with the 'Antiques Road Show' voices, though, and follow the DLR guards' example. The heavy irony the drivers manage to inject into their voices, as they as they intone the 'offical excuses' makes you feel, somehow, they're on your side.

I was quite pleased, too, on a DLR train, yesterday, when they announced the final destination station was closed. It was Bank!

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