Letter: Tendering on the buses does not work

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The Independent Online
Sir: Both Peter Mackie and Steven Norris, in their letters (7 May), claim that tendering on London's bus services is acknowledged as a success. Passengers on my bus, and bus workers, ask: 'By what standard is it acknowledged a success?' It has produced by far the most expensive bus travel in Europe. It has produced one of the oldest fleet of buses in any of Europe's capital cities, and a much lower level of maintenance of London's buses than for the previous 40 years.

Passengers tell me, and I know they are right, that the inside and outside of London's buses are less clean than they were before tendering. I know that this is because, to meet the low tendered price, the number of cleaners and maintenance engineers employed has been reduced.

Buses are now often missing because the sickness rate has doubled in the last month. The tendering and contract system has been used to impose on bus drivers longer working hours each day. Many London bus drivers are now scheduled to work five and a half hours without a break: that is, right to the absolute legal limit. The resulting increase in stress and fatigue not only puts the health of bus drivers at risk, but must affect the safety of passengers and other road-users.

Passengers do not want to choose between a safe and an overtired bus driver. They do not want to choose between an old and dirty bus and a modern, clean one. Presented with this choice, and higher fares, they will take to their cars, adding further to London's congestion and pollution. That is no choice at all.

Passengers do not see this deterioration in the quality of their service as a success. More people travel by bus each day in London than by the underground and Network Southeast put together.

These four million passengers need and deserve a better bus service: tendering and deregulation does not provide it.

Yours sincerely,

PETER GIBSON

London Bus Divisional Committee

TGWU

West Croydon

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