I asked Transport for London today to clarify my legal rights whist travelling on a London Bus, specifically being detained against our will.
e.g A bus stuck in a traffic jam, between bus stops and with no health or safety problems to endanger the passenger. You ask politely after 15 mins to leave the bus. The driver refuses to let you leave the bus. You can be detained against your will indefinitely. The bus is supposed to only let passengers of at a designated bus stop. There is NO time limit set as to how long you can be kept in a locked bus. I await their legal departments reply..
Seriously, there is no time limit.
There is an emergency button, which it illegal to use. And you have to be tall enough to reach it too!
I was on a bus stuck in traffic on tower bridge road last week and the driver willing let me off when I realized I was not going to make my train from liverpool street unless I got off and found another way there. So I guess it is down to the driver discretion but I suspect they are not really meant to let you off between stops.
If you do use the emergency can the driver easily reset it? What I mean is, I can understand how health and safety these days means they're told never to do it (let you off). They might lose their job if you're in an accident. So if you use the emergency that must mean it's your own responsibility, and if the bus is going nowhere anyway then the driver can just reset the door. Everyone's happy. It's just down to the passenger to extra careful.
The "emergency" button is not that far out of reach. I'm average height and know I can reach it. It may or may not be illegal to use it, but so long as you are prepared to accept responsibility/consequences for your own self when you alight the bus in the jam, then I would use it in bad situation (I get claustrophobic on v crowded buses). In doing so, be aware of moving vehicles/cyclists/pedestrians when stepping off, and of cameras on the bus, recording your potential "crime". I've seen dozens of passengers leap off after one person has pressed the "emergency" button in a jam. Think people power, but also think safety.
If the driver opened the door between stops and a passenger was hit by a passing vehicle,or bike, not only would the passenger sue, but the driver would probably be charged with reckless endangerment. Maybe buses should carry disclaimer forms which a passenger can sign saying that by exiting between stops they accept full responsibility.
I was once on a bus that had been stuck on Whitehall for ages when after begging the driver to let us off and being ignored a tall passenger pushed the emergency button and opened the door but before he could get out the grumpy female driver pressed her door button and SHUT HIM IN IT!
(I'm female so not being sexist but not sure a male driver would have bothered once the door was opened, it was a bit bitchy of her!)
The guy simply pressed it again and got out but she quickly closed it again after him before I could escape and I was too scared to try it!
I'm only 5'3 and have never actually tried to press it incase I can't reach and make a fool of myself!
I think it's a case of common sense really. There's a huge difference between just asking a driver to stop between official bus stops to a busload of trapped passengers being stuck in non moving gridlocked traffic for half an hour etc, maybe the bus companies should rethink their policy or let the drivers use their discretion, especially as most of London seems to be a gridlocked roadwork chaos at the mo!
On no, but serves the driver right!
I was on a bus stuck on Bricklayers arms roundabout about a month ago and the driver wouldn't let anyone off (it had taken us 30mins since leaving the stop by the newsagents/opticians on tower bridge road) until a woman with a small crying child started screaming at the driver to open the door before her son p***ed himself!
Even then I think it was another passenger who pressed the emergency button to let her off (we were across the crossing which was on green man and right next to the pavement at the time!)