EDITORIAL: Getting out among it, a patrons experience

By: Chris Smith

It is a terrifying experience being a passenger on a route you have never travelled before and even worse when

It is a terrifying experience being a passenger on a route you have never travelled before and even worse when the basics like timetables aren’t available in the purpose-built windows on the bus stop signs.

I have had a couple of days away from the office because the trusty ol’ car has shat its self, meaning I am back on public transport.

The experience has given me an opportunity to do what every bus journalist should do on a regular basis and test out those 'go' cards, the service on the buses close to home, and listen to what the passengers say.

Firstly, TransLink's website obviously doesn’t get updated as quickly or frequently as it should.

The bus stop that it told me to wait at for my bus had a small sign on it saying that it was closed, which is not such a big issue if you are by yourself, but add a baby to the mix and 600 metres in the opposite direction to where you are is a big journey in 10 minutes.

Adding insult to injury, the best the operator on the helpline could do is ask me to read the sign and recite it back to me …which I guess from their point of view helps them understand the situation and nine out of 10 times could possibly solve the problem.

However, all I was doing was calling to ask what time and where to catch the bus and let the authorities know that the information hasn’t been changed since February 22. But thanks for making me feel like a bloody idiot. Don’t you think I know that the bus isn’t stopping here anymore!

And for the final blow, leaning in to read the sign my baby and I received a host of ant bites. For me personally that day on public transport was literally a pain ‘on’ the arse.

Interestingly enough, having a pram is a bit of a hindrance. Could someone explain why they can’t be kept open in the wheel chair accessibility section? And what happened to those big spots at the front of the bus that used to house prams, umbrellas and all those sorts of things?

Now you have to fold the pram and have it next to you in the bus, and that’s a bit of a hindrance when you are holding a baby as well.

The young lady waiting at a different stop to the one above was kind enough to tell me how some drivers don’t wait for a parent to fold a pram and just drive off. She suggested I go on first just in case.

She said there were some nice drivers. Especially two women that drive the 520 route but she also said there were a few not so nice drivers.

Either way, at least I had an honest account of the service from a frequent traveller, and no, I didn’t let her know I was an editor of Australia’s number-one bus publication.

Lastly, but of no means least, the driver didn’t even say hi, nod or ask if I needed a hand, wish me well when I left, remind me to swipe off with my 'go' card or offer anything remotely resembling a smile!

My question to you my fine readers from this great industry is am I asking for too much or do you find and train people to at least seem like they care?

I’ll see you on the bus!

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