Wednesday, 23 September 2009
It is always good to see our staff giving great customer service and I had a really nice trip on a bus in Bristol in the past day or so where the driver was really good. Very smooth, lots of signals, waited for the odd last-minute passenger and scrutinised passes well. When I talked to him afterwards to thank him for doing such a great job he cheerfully reminded me that whilst there are challenges from time to time the job is easier if it is done in a calm way.
By complete contrast I was going home on a bus in London (not one of ours!) where the driver made a tremendous job of getting it wrong. True he was busy but he spent lots of time talking with a female passenger, drove with one hand on the wheel and one on the cash tray, and when we were forced onto a diversion managed to make a really useless announcement without the iBus PA.
He said that we were on a diversion but didn’t know it. That caused several passengers to congregate at the front as they tried to work out whether their own destination was going to be served or not. We ended up in a convoy of three (it’s a 7½ minute frequency) with the drivers shouting to each other about who knew what about where to go.
His over-excitement spilled over into this driving and we had sharp turns, heavy braking and a generally rough ride.
We are introducing a device on our vehicles called DriveGreen – basically an accelerometer connected to a red, amber and green ‘traffic light’ box. When you drive smoothly it stays green – if you start to throw people about it shows amber or red. Each route is calibrated so that a smooth ‘green’ journey can be achieved.
I drove a coach in Cardiff with it on a couple of weeks ago (that's the photo above) and it rather does for you what your MPG read out does in your car. In the same way as you just try to get that extra 0.1mpg (we’ve all done it!) when you drive with DriveGreen you just try hard to keep that green light on. The benefits are smoother ride, better fuel consumption, and fewer collisions. The results so far are amazing but best of all you can see your own performance on your home PC or at the garage. Our drivers are trying to improve their scores without any intervention by their supervisors or managers.
Reaction has been generally positive although one or two people have tried to vandalise the system by breaking the LED light display – entirely pointless as the accelerometer and its memory are somewhere else entirely and continue to work!
Thanks for all your nice comments about this blog - people are tuning in, and my 'social media' mentor now tells me we must set up a "Follow me on Twitter" alert arrangement. I will let you know when this is working so you can know when there is a new story here.
In the meantime - go safely!