Buses call at bus stops all the time. Bus stops often have bus shelters. Yet, how often do you hear of buses actually colliding with these shelters? If anything, it tends to be private motorists or heavy drivers who do the demolition.
At about 1130 yesterday, in Cheltenham, it seems a bus actually did hit a shelter. But, can the local newspaper website really justify the headline, “Anger as Stagecoach crashes into Cheltenham bus shelter”? Or is this just lazy reporting? Just invective?
And, even though reported as in shock, should the driver have been relieved of his duty as the “enraged” publican suggested, albeit temporarily? So near Cheltenham, this would’ve been an easy option.
The procedure here is also clear. First, check your passengers and pedestrians. Call an ambulance if there’s an immediate need. Then phone your garage for instruction. Supervisors will ask you to confirm the passenger situation and they will ask about the driver’s and the vehicle’s condition. They will judge from the driver’s reaction and responses whether the situation’s safe and whether and how much the bus is damaged. They will know the location and its distance from base. The driver appeared to have followed his procedures and he was told to be on his way. Why hold up ther service, its passengers on board and those downstream if there’s no need to do so?
But publicans and other onlookers need to realise that this isn’t the end of the matter. First, there’ll be questions back at the garage, the driver’s record assessed, perhaps a driver assessment, and so on and even possibly a disciplinary. Whether the publican believes it or not, bus operators need drivers who are safe and competent. They don’t want drivers who go messing around with buses such that they need to be constantly off the road for repairs. But taking the driver off at the time isn’t always the best time. And, secondly, although the driver will have ensured there are no immediate injuries at the time, that’s not to say something won’t turn up later. Whiplash, for example, as appears to be the case from the first (garbled) website comment.
It’s best for a driver to carry on, if the driver feels able to and if the situation means he can. Someone at the garage needs to give the nod and will rely on the driver’s tone and answers but, generally, after a minor incident, the driver is better off, well, just driving. Bus drivers are professionals. They handle 12-plus tons of bus day in, day out, largely without incident. Even something minor can nevertheless shake a driver’s confidence. They’re human.
It’s different when there’s an immediate injury. If the police are involved, then obviously a bus and spare driver need to take over. If a serious injury and there’s been no arrest or suspicion, the driver still needs to get behind the wheel as soon as possible, though not in passenger service, but accompanied. Doing so early maximises the potential of his getting back to work.
The photo accompanying the piece may be rigged (it may be a following bus service) but it does appear that the damage to the shelter and therefore the bus was light.
i This is Gloucestershire