Friday, 22 November 2013

Bring Back The Bus Conductor


I recently received an email from TfL proposing to stop all cash payments on all London buses. I think this is a stupid idea because the cash option should always be available if need be. Oyster Cards have meant that a great deal of waiting time has been cut down now people do not have to pay to board, and only on very rare occasions do I see people paying (usually when they have insufficient funds on their card). This means that journeys are very rarely delayed because of somebody needing to pay, and if they are, it is only by a few minutes.

As a young woman, who uses the bus to get home late at night (usually a little worse for wear) sometimes I find cash payments useful in case I have forgotten to top up. At this time of night, it is hard to find a shop or station that is open late where I can top up, and wondering about looking for one can be dangerous. Having the option to pay as I board has saved my skin on a few occasions, and I'm sure it will in the future.

If TfL really are worried about the increase in journey times through cash payments, surely they should bring back the bus conductors. The driver will then be able to concentrate on driving and the conductor on the well being of the bus and its passengers. Not only will they be able to take payments, but also would act as a deterrent of anti social behaviour. A few years ago I was randomly attacked by a few teenage girls on the top deck of a bus, and I'm sure if there had been a conductor on board, this would not have happened.

It would also create a huge amount of much-needed jobs across the capital, that really could help improve the lives of many Londoners.

 Is the return of bus conductors a great idea or not? Comment below and let me know what you think!


  1. No, it isn't. Conductors are unnecessary and undesirable for two reasons - first they're extremely expensive, wages are already the largest single cost of running a bus, about ten times more than fuel, so adding an extra crew member is just going to result in fares being hiked to a point where people stop using the bus, which defeats the object. Secondly there's no actual justification for having them for the increasingly rare occasions when cash is used - TfL have ample experience now to show that people prefer paying with smartcards than cash, as anyone from London who goes to another UK city and finds themselves thrust back in time will tell you. TfL aren't getting rid of cash payments to save time, incidentally, but to save on the expense of cash handling (basically getting the money from the bus into the bank securely).

    Oh, and Boris's bus doesn't have conductors, it has Customer Service Agents, which are even more pointless.

    1. Boriswatch being clueless again

    2. I understand your point about conductors being expensive, but to individual fares it would not cost as much as you suggest. The fare we pay now accounts for not only the bus driver/fuel but everything that goes on behind the scenes; maintenance etc. so the cost of a conductor would only raise individual fares by a small amount.
      With regards to the cash payment, this should be readily available if the needs arise. There should always be a basic old fashioned option, because cash is available to everyone, whereas contactless cards aren't. I do not have or want a contactless card, so for me, I would have no option but to pay by oyster. In addition, there are some people who would not be able to get such a card; for example those under 18. Cash is available to everything and can be operated manually, so should always be the back up choice.

    3. Tom

      Where is the evidence? You need to back your arguments up with evidence in order to get your point across!
      I only rely on what TFL says because TFL have the information about the New Bus. The naysayers in the GLA don't care about the interests of Londoners, they only care about increasing unemployment and reducing opportunities for the young! And with the London Underground ticket stations closing, its all a myth because there is no mention of it happening on the TFL website. So the media is telling a load of cobblers to the masses!
      Ken Livingstone in 2002 said "conductors are extremely popular as they speed up journey times and make people feel safer". [1] It shows that it increases safety on the London buses. But he originally planned to have conductors on the bendy buses but didn't happen.
      Planning for a "new Routemaster" have been considered over the years, but all thanks to Boris Johnson for investing the project. [2] Just like the Crossrail, but at least Boris has done a good job investing this as well! There are few vanity projects I disagree which is the Cable Car, just an utter waste of money what Boris done! No wonder it have low ridership. Cheaper just to sell it to Richard Branson for all I care!
      But in regards to removing cash fares, I think there will be no chance of removing them because there will be people needing to pay their fare when their Oyster is not working. But hey, you know you can use your contactless bank card on the bus. ;)
      But lastly, the New Bus got publicity from it's world tour and airtime on Top Gear. I bet the naysayers are very jealous about it!


    4. As long the price cap for all day buses on Oyster stays under £5, then I will not moan much about fare rises. But same goes for 1-6 day travelcard cap (after 9:30 weekday) which stays under £10!

      I heavily rely on price caps instead of the single Oyster fare.

  2. If Tom Barry had a brain he would be dangerous..great blog and yep great idea

  3. I totally agree that the return of bus conductors would be a very positive thing for the reasons you have discussed in your post. Scrapping this role is yet another example of decision makers knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

    1. I agree. It seems cost is more important than the safety and the efficiency of service! A sad fact throughout much of today's business!