Friday, July 22, 2005

De-roofing a bus...

I've not been able to find any pictures of this online, but Reading Buses has outdone itself this time. A double-decker bus containing about 25 school kids was driven into the railway bridge on Loddon Bridge Road. It was moving fast enough at the time that the roof of the bus was seperated from the chassis and pushed several metres towards the back of the bus. Fortunately no-one was killed; four kids were hospitalised. Reports as to the cause vary, but it appears that either or both of the following occurred:
  • The driver took a wrong turn.
  • The driver forgot that he was driving a double-decker bus. Apparently he ordinarily drives a single deck bus on this route.
For a few years I have been, by virtue of being a resident of Woodley, a regular user of the limited, unreliable bus service here. I have seen astonishing incompetence on the part of people who are being entrusted with the lives of their passengers, not to mention gratuitous discourtesy. I am aware of the problems that they are having finding drivers, so can forgive the hiring and retention of discourteous drivers, but drivers who have trouble with any of:
  • Controlling a bus (e.g. keeping the bus on the road)
  • Driving in traffic (e.g. staying between lane markers when in proximity to other vehicles)
  • Navigating (actually following the published route, notably when a diversion is in place; visiting each stop on the route)
  • Remembering what kind of bus they are driving (!!!)
should (a) not be allowed to drive a bus with paying passengers until all of the above skills have been mastered and (b) be banned, for life, from driving a paying passenger vehicle if they fail in any of the above, even once, after they've graduated. I'm advocating a pretty high bar here but, like airline pilots - albeit on a far smaller scale - bus drivers have an awesome responsibility; only exceptional drivers should be permitted to be entrusted with the lives of their passengers, and only while they are capable of performing flawlessly.

(via The Mirror, Reading Evening Post, The Reading Guide, BBC News)