Letter: Cracking down on unruly passengers

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The Independent Online
From Mr Lionel Smith

Sir: In answer to the implied question,"How can the middle classes be persuaded to give up the comfort and convenience of their cars and take to the buses?" your leading article "Sitting next to Mr Norris", 10 February) suggests middle-class attitudes of prissiness, prejudice and irrational fear to be at the bottom of it all.

But really the question deserves more serious attention than was evidenced by tittering allusions to "smells" and "habits". In public as well as private life, the irrational, as ever, will play its part. Reactions of annoyance and distaste, distress and anger, are everyday and real: reactions in the confines of bus or railway carriage to jostling, loutishness and rudeness; to beer-drinking and snacking on hot foods; to litter and filth; to loud personal stereos and similar invasions of personal space; to rowdiness and outright aggression.

If the transport authorities set about managing these deterrent behaviours, as they could and should, the outlook would be very different. But the question is, can they themselves effect the necessary internal cultural change?

Yours faithfully,

Lionel Smith

London, SW15