Better Buses

Glasgow

This morning my bus journey was held up for around 10 – 15 minutes by the driver being caught in a disagreement with two would be passengers. I was right at the front of the bus and stayed to observe the entire thing. The couple spoke very limited English and appeared to be trying to obtain a day ticket and a weekly pass. The driver was absolutely adamant that they had not deposited sufficient funds for those tickets. Now, I am inclined toward believing the driver, since the combined fare for these tickets would be £22.50 – which would be an enormous amount of change to put in the box, there were no notes deposited and the driver seemed genuinely infuriated. However, because First Buses operate a ‘no change’ policy and the money is simply deposited into the machine by the passenger, the driver cannot count it properly and cannot logically argue or refute somebody attempting a scam in this way. The passenger asked him to open thge change box but the driver was unable to do so – and therefore the row went round in circles. The driver called for some back up from his depot – which was about 1 minute’s walk from where the bus was – as we were at the top of Pollokshaws Road, adjacent to the Victoria street depot. However, nobody came to assist him and he was simply told over the phone to give them the tickets and get on with the journey. As I left the bus a few stops on from this, I asked the driver if this was a regular occurrence and he told me that it was, inferring that it was a common scam. I can’t help but think that the route cause of this is the money-grabbing policy of First Buses to not give change. – If the driver reviewed the fare he was being given, there would simply be no row – there either is or isn’t enough fare for the ticket being requested – but once a passenger has deposited money into the ticket machine, there is an inevitable and unsolvable dispute if either side disagrees since there can be no way of proving who is telling the truth. First Buses are therefore falling victim to a scam that is entirely a result of their own greedy policy – which is causing unnecessarily stressful interactions of this sort for their staff and causing delays and irritation to passengers.

Clare Cooney. At a Glasgow bus stop.

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