188: bus route of misery

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Monday 1 February 2010 1.39pm
At my nearest bus stop, I have the choice of a 1 or 188 to take me into town. I always hope the 1 comes first, because the 188 does my head in. Clearly drivers are under strictest orders to obey their timetable because on no other route do they drive quite as slowly if they're ahead of time or allow the bus to stand stationary at bus stops for quite as long, 'in order to help regulate the service' (in the words of the robot-woman announcer, which by the way, is another subject for another day).

On Saturday, I boarded the 188 at Bricklayer's Arms. At the next stop (mystifying called Tower Bridge Road, despite being on New Kent Road), the driver announced that the bus would need to be held for at least seven minutes - but passengers wishing to move off quicker could disembark and get on another 188 that was right behind us. Half the bus's passengers disembarked and waited at the bus stop. A few seconds later, the second 188 sailed past the bus stop without even stopping, ignoring the outstetched arms flagging it down. The disgruntled passengers got back on the original 188 and waited. Once the bus driver eventually resumed the journey it was only two stops before, quelle surprise, the bus was delayed again at E&C while they changed driver.

And that's my biggest bugbear of all. Is the 188 the only bus where they change driver midway through the route? I take many other buses on many different routes, and haven't noticed it anywhere else. I would say that fifty per cent of the time I take the 188 northbound to E&C, it happens. It usually involves the bus being held for at least five minutes - which may not sound much but is annoying if you're in a hurry.

Sometimes the replacement driver is late or doesn't show up at all, so the bus waits... and waits... or just terminates early. How many times have I been on another bus that services New Kent Road and witnessed it overtaking a 188 that is temporarily grounded while drivers swap shifts, or grounded full-stop after a no-show? Too many times to mention.

On one occasion, the replacement driver was there, ready to take over, but spent literally five minutes adjusting the wing mirror. Sitting down, deciding it wasn't right, getting up again to twist it slightly, and repeating the whole exercise at least ten times until I lost patience and got off the wretched bus.

Even when there is no change of driver at E&C, someone with a flourescent jacket and clipboard will always board the bus and have a chat with the driver, whilst passengers sit and quietly fume "get on with it!".

I'd like the 188 to stop drivers starting and ending their shifts at E&C. It might be convenient for staff, but too often it leads to inconvenience for passengers, whose needs should come first. And I'd like more research done into whether passengers prefer buses to be held in order to even out gaps in the service or whether, once they're on the bus, they just want the thing to get to its destination as quickly as possible.
Monday 1 February 2010 2.01pm
totally agree with you Bel. It appears the drivers take priority over hundreds of passengers. sadly this also happens on the number 1 where drivers change at alscot road stop, in both directions.
Monday 1 February 2010 2.11pm
Bus drivers also change at Alscot Road stop on the number 78 bus route.
Monday 1 February 2010 2.43pm
on the C10 they often change route from Victoria to Tate Britain part way through the journey to help "regulate the service" but forget to tell the passengers and the driver on the bus behind so it goes past without picking up passengers that want to go past the Tate we are then stuck for ages waiting for a Victoria bus.

When you ask why it is all to regulate the service and keep to time tables forget customer service and reliability!
Monday 1 February 2010 2.43pm
The No.1 drivers also change drivers at Alscot Rd., with much the same results as the 188 at E&C.

Before East Thames took over the route from First Group, the changeover used to happen at Canada Water. Unfortunately, as East Thames (and now Go Ahead) are based at Mandela Way they find it easier for the drivers to walk up to the Fort than travel the 10-15mins to the end of the route.

It drives me up the wall. As BL said, when did it become OK to incovenience your customers for the convenience of your staff?

And as far as regulating the service goes, it's a one way street. You never see a driver late running being told to put his foot down a bit to regulate the service, do you? ;o)

M x
Monday 1 February 2010 10.13pm
The 188 is shockingly bad!
I always try to avoid it. I've really grown to hate the men in neon that jump out at elephant whenever you are running late.
I've been on buses that are already pulling away from the stop at Elephant and out of nowhere a little man with a clipboard will dash across the road and pull over the bus!

And as for "being told to put their foot down".
I have to admit that I have also been on the both the 1 and the 188 late at night when the drivers seem to be on a mission to drive as fast as possible either to 'regulate services' or more likely to get home!
Not the safest journey but it usually mean you can get from the Aldwich to Tower Bridge road in 10 mins flat!Just hold on tight and ring the bell in plenty of time!
Monday 1 February 2010 10.38pm
Ha. Actually I don't mind it when drivers drive too fast. And I've been on so many buses (not just the 188) where drivers jump the red at least two seconds after the light's changed to that colour. When I'm not on a bus, I think drivers that do this are v. naughty. But when I'm on a bus, I'm secretly pleased when it happens...
Monday 1 February 2010 11.19pm
...especially at Waterloo bus station where you wait 5 mins for the lights to go green, only for them to change again after letting two buses through!!

...aaaaaaaand breathe. Calm blue ocean, Calm blue ocean, Calm blue ocean...
Tuesday 2 February 2010 10.09am
MDonovan wrote:
...especially at Waterloo bus station where you wait 5 mins for the lights to go green, only for them to change again after letting two buses through!!

Ah yes. Waterloo bus station - a spectacularly dreadful piece of traffic design all round but the phasing of the exit lights is the icing!
Wednesday 3 February 2010 11.07am
I think the number 1 route is ten times worse. I can never get on a bus as they are always too full and there always seems to be about 4 number 188's that go past whilst i am waiting for a number 1 and they always look empty.

The number 1 does change drivers at the Fort near Spa Park as does the number 78.
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