On The Buses… TfL Response!

Back in April, I blogged about the LONG bendy buses in London (On The Buses…) and how 12-members (yes, 12) of Transport for London staff ended-up on the same bus I was on in comical fashion, to check passengers tickets – I mean, there was nearly more Ticket Inspectors than passengers!

Anyway, I read the other day that the bendy buses are no more now on the number 73 bus route (one of the oldest in London, and the country). I’m reliably informed (via the World Wide Web of course) that London Mayor Boris Johnson never did like them, but his predecessor Ken Livingstone did. Boris, I’m led to believe likes double-deckers, and not just the chocolate kind…

The end of the bendy buses reminded me that I never did post the response I got from TfL, so I’m doing it now. If you didn’t know, anything I blog about I send a copy of it to those individuals/organisations I refer to. You can’t write about stuff, then hide. One of my friends David, likes to remind me of my ‘transparency’ comment at the bottom of my blogs… hmmm… I’m using ‘friend’ here in the loose term aye? 😮

So, here’s the TfL Response – to my On The Buses… blog –

Dear Mr Max,

Thank you for your comments regarding the incident involving two teams of revenue protection inspectors you encountered whilst travelling on a route 73 bus on February 16 2011.

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some of the points you raised, in particular with regard to the allocation of resources and the value for money that Transport for London (TfL) constantly strives to provide as a public authority.

You are right, of course, that it does not require 12 revenue protection inspectors to check the tickets on one bendy bus. On the day in question, our revenue protection department had two teams working across route 73. Each team consisted of two uniformed TfL revenue protection inspectors, two uniformed Metropolitan Police Community Support Officers and two plain clothes Metropolitan Police Officers.

I would like draw your attention to the fact that that route 73 is a high fare evasion route with high levels of anti-social behaviour and a high number of incidents involving the Police. Hence we deploy staff on that route according to the intelligence available to us.

On the day in question, the two teams ended up at the same location and on the same bus owing to the nature of the incidents and irregularities they encountered and had to deal with whilst out on the route. This cannot be planned for and on the rare occasions when it happens, both teams will usually either split up (where alternative routes are available that require a similar strategy) or travel together to the next point where they can part ways. In this instance, both teams decided to travel ahead on the same bus before parting ways a little later. I do sympathise with the image this may have conveyed to passengers but I would like to assure you that this should in no way be viewed as a squandering of resources but a natural, if infrequent, consequence of different teams patrolling a particular route.

With regards to Oyster card readers not working, TfL acknowledges and regrets that on some occasions this essential piece of equipment can fail whilst the bus is in service. To avoid unnecessary disruption to passengers, we allow the bus to continue in service until its next scheduled return to its depot, when the problem will be resolved or the bus removed from service. We ask passengers to accept our apologies for any inconvenience this causes. When a ticket inspection takes place on a bus whose card readers are not working at the time, the inspectors will not issue penalty fares to Oyster card holders who were unable to swipe their card.

However, revenue protection inspectors are still required to carry out checks on passengers’ tickets even when Oyster readers are not working. This is because fare evasion is not simply a matter of passengers travelling without swiping their Oyster cards. A certain number of passengers travel using stolen, or otherwise fraudulently obtained passes and our revenue protection inspectors will continue to deal with these matters on such occasions.

You also raised a concern about members of the revenue protection teams working in plain clothes. On the occasion you described, the plain clothes team members were Metropolitan Police Officers deployed as back-up for their colleagues as detailed earlier. Transport for London also frequently deploys revenue protection inspectors in plain clothes across the network to detect fare evasion and in particular track repeat offenders.

I have asked my colleagues in the revenue protection department to speak to the team supervisor regarding the responses he allegedly gave to you on February 16. Please be assured that if it is thought that the team member concerned was misleading in any way, appropriate steps will be taken to ensure that this is dealt with as part of our on-going training procedures for revenue protection inspectors .

I can also confirm that one of the revenue protection team concerned recalled the “random man on the street” you mentioned. This person was not part of our checking group but a member of the public who he believed to have received a fine for fare evasion and alighted from the bus.

I hope my comments are helpful and that this clarifies the various points raised in your email. Please contact me again if I can of further assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Mr TfL.

Two things spring to mind…

1. TfL nearly writes as much dribble, as me!

2. The 12 staff members, actually remembered me after I asked them why there was so many – they got on the wrong bus that day.

It was only yesterday that I learned, ‘that’ tabloid newspaper who was going to run a negative story about me and whose name I now can’t bring myself to write(?) also reads my blog – so, I must be doing something right?

Although, I don’t think they’re a fan… but, just checking up on me… Well, I’m checking up on them.

This has been a ‘View from the Bottom’ where I’ve smiled to myself (a little anyway)!

Take care, Max x

Live Healthy, Laugh Often & Love Yourself!

© Kevin Maxwell Film, Media & Performance 2011 – Published by My Mum.