Slightly steeper but still straight stairs at the front of the NB4L
The added complication on a double deck is that the stairs are moving. Balance becomes an issue. I’m sure we can all remember mis-footing on double deck stairs or a driver having to pull up sharply while we were descending them. A month ago, an unfortunate woman near Watford fell down the stairwell. The reports are vaguely written but it seems the driver stopped to unload at a bus stop other than the usual one (it was blocked) and then moved forward when the designated stop became free or just caried on. Said woman, last off the bus, was propelled half way down the stairs. Upon hearing her screams, the driver anchored up and she completed the tumble to the very bottom.
Now, she’s calling for CCTV to be fitted to the stairwell and she’s suing Arriva, to boot, because it would seem the driver stopped twice (she claims against the rules), first at the wrong stand. Aside from the fact that it seems the driver was acting quite pragmatically, the issue is, how do drivers adequately police the stairs? With more and more operators recognising that passengers are more vulnerable when out of their seats, buses now tend to have signage advising passengers to wait till the bus stops before they get up. Assuming the periscope works or is not obstructed, a driver may still miss an upper deck laggard who doesn’t move till the bus stops, who gets onto the stair late when everyone else has cleared the bus or who takes the stairs cautiously.
Coupled with fewer seats downstairs (especially in London) that forces more people upstairs; and the voguish straight staircase; by driving off too early, there’s a propensity for more injury in the future.
Rear stairwell has a traditional twist
Straight staircases reduce the angle but they take up more lower deck seating space. In my experience, a sudden stop means inertia tends to propel passengers down them rather too quickly. Is this where the more traditional spiral might be advantageous? Instead of hastening your movement down the stairs, you tended to bang into the sidewall, which acts as a barrier. It’s interesting that the Wrightbus LT Class NBfL has a forward, straight stairwell (but at a more acute angle, it seems to me) but at the rear the staircase twists.
Stairs are dangerous in the home because of poor light and because people stupidly place objects on them, objects that slip. At least modern bus stairwells are light and trip free. And, here, the Borismaster scores even more by having glazed portions front and back. Perhaps this wasn’t by design but owing to elf ’n safety, innit.
i Watford Observer report