Turnitoffandonagain

23/3/15

Richmond – Kingston – Return

I hopped on the bus as the first part of the journey today. I’m learning that this is a bit of a lottery, especially on the more ‘provincial’ routes which run the older, often single decker, buses in the fleet.

The ramp deployed really easily, and I was able to get positioned quickly. Sadly, once the ramp had retracted the bus didn’t go anywhere. The driver was clearly having some issues, and tried both opening and closing the doors and even putting out the ramp again, but to no avail. Eventually he asked us all to be patient for a minute and shut off the engine.

At this point I’m feeling awful. A similar thing happened last week and everyone had to decant into the cold when the bus was declared FUBAR. Although it’s not my fault, my getting on the bus has delayed the journey of all the passengers and that makes me feel bad and hurts the relationship between disabled travellers and the general public. There was one particularly pushy and obstreperous woman who tried to open the doors when the power was off, which didn’t work. For some reason I didn’t feel guilty about her.

In the best computer tradition rebooting the bus worked, and we were off again as soon as the engine restarted. The rest of the trip to the station passed without incident.

At Richmond station the platform was unmanned, but fortunately I caught the eye of one of the staff on another platform and he came over to assist me onto the train. This isn’t ideal and relies on some amount of luck, but worked okay in this instance. Although he tried phoning Kingston, by the time he put me on the train no one had picked up the phone. He must have kept trying because there was a ‘man with a ramp’ waiting for me when I arrived.

The return journey illustrated how often efforts by individuals paper over the cracks in companies. The procedure at Kingston, and increasingly other stations, is that staff at the entry barrier radio their colleagues on the platform to announce a passenger needing assistance. In this case the only response to the radio call was static, which apparently is not unusual. The gate guard used the backup plan which was to call upstairs using his own mobile, PAYG phone. Apparently he’d spent £10 last month on these 10 second phone calls. That’s a lot of failed radio.

The train trip itself, and the subsequent bus ride to finish, passed smoothly. All in all not too bad a journey, and I live to ride another day.

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About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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