There’s a 23-year-old Derby mother of three who wants vengeance. She took a photograph of a somewhat unconventional driving position and then ran to the local newspaper when she didn’t get what she wanted from Arriva Midlands. The paper, of course, smelt a story.
Read the woman’s quote carefully,
“I took a photo of him with his leg up on my phone…”
First, let’s tackle the photo. If this allegation is correct—and the Arriva spokesman in the press seems to think it is—if the driver were one of mine, I’d be unhappy and not just because of the reputational risk such a photo poses to an operator. Modern buses may be much easier to drive than those of yore. But that in no way excuses a pose that contravenes accepted standards and common sense. It’s all down to reaction time in the event of an issue or incident arising.
And, just like balancing one arm of the cash tray or dangling the other out the cab window (not, I trust at the same time), it offers little reassurance to passengers when they see this sort of thing. Although commenters in the past have not always agreed, the driver hand dangling on the cash tray is one of my own pet hates.
Now then, there’s the whole issue of what the woman wants. She did exactly the right thing in contacting the operator—but, two days later, she enquired about the specific action taken.
The operator wouldn’t say (hence her trip to the press). It’s actually not for her to know. The driver disciplinary process is necessarily personal and confidential. Whatever action the operator takes, once published, it cannot win. If the operator’s seen as too harsh, he is brandished a tyrant. If too lenient, the operator condones unsafe practices. In truth, as many people will swing one way as the other. Ultimately, the operator suffers.
And neither should an operator ever be left in a position where a driver can be the subject of a witch-hunt or scapegoat. The exact outcome will, of course, depend upon the level of misconduct, the driver’s record, his attitude, his willingness to accept it was wrong, the skill of his union rep and other factors. In the same way, you trust a supermarket when you make a complaint; you need to trust an operator. If you notice a smoky vehicle and phone VOSA, VOSA will never tell you the result. An operator like Arriva will have systems and procedures for this sort of thing. And they can always be subject to appeal in any case. So, it’s unlikely that, after two days, Arriva could’ve told the woman anything, anyway.
There have often been passengers or the public who have reached me who are not happy with a particular driver. Usually, invariably actually, they comment upon how they do not want to get the driver into too much trouble—usually dismissal—but they feel that they need to report something anyway. I reassure them by saying that we have to do what we have to do and that we have systems and procedures to follow. My view is that passengers probably do want some sort of punitive action as long as it falls short of the ultimate sanction.
I wonder what the Derby mother really wants.
(There were over 60 comments on the web about this issue. My browser would let me see just 10 of them).
i Derby Telegraph story