Monthly Archives: September 2011

New First Bus website for smartphones

First UK Bus has launched a new mobile website designed to enable its customers access First bus information from smartphones. Full story here. Having just got a new smartphone I felt I had to take a look. My initial reaction? Very impressive! I’ve not had time to look further than the timetables section but that’s what led me to say ‘very impressive’. I always hated having to look up First Bus time tables on the old site using my PC, now with a screen a fraction of the size of my 22″ home screen it’s the easiest thing in the world to check times. If you’re using a smartphone, rather than presenting timetables as pdf files, the system is interactive requesting route number, when are you travelling, direction of travel, going to etc. That may sound as if it would take time entering it on a smartphone but everything is selected from drop downs so it’s a very quick and easy process. Times are then presented very simply showing the departure time from your selected stop and the arrival time at the selected destination.

Complaints against bus drivers

The BBC made a Freedom of Information request about the types and number of complaints being made against bus drivers – full story here. These statistics are for London only but I wonder if the rest of the UK would be much different?

The top 3 positions are not unexpected. Number 4; Fare Issues does strike me as a bit odd unless they’re not really complaints against the driver but complaints against what the passenger sees as a high (but correct) price. The biggest surprise for me was the number 5 position; Refusing Wheelchair/Pushchair it even beats ‘Insufficient time to Board/Alig’ and ‘Vehicle Moved Off Too Quickly’ added together! Then again, if most wheelchair users have the same attitude and expectations as this young man then perhaps I should not be surprised. “Disabled people cannot be treated like this.” he says when he was unable to board a bus which already had another wheelchair occupying the allocated space. I’m sorry he had to wait for the next bus bus just the same as I’m sorry for able bodied people who have to wait for the next bus when the one they expected to catch is at full capacity for seated and standing passengers. I wonder if the able bodied left behind would say “It makes you feel extremely victimised.”?

Driver – Attitude/Rude Behaved 22,542
Driver – Failure to Stop/Not Picking Up 20,657
Driver – Poor/Dangerous Driving 10,997
Driver – Fares Issue 3,627
Driver – Refusing Wheelchair/Pushchair 1,551
Driver – Early run/late run 1,272
ZSERVICE/Not assigned 1,216
Driver – Insufficient time to Board/Alig 1,193
Driver – Engine run on stand 1,180
Driver – Deviate from Route 914
Driver – Discriminatory Behaviour 523
Driver – Radio/Phone/PA 274
Driver – Alleged Assault 241
Driver – Vehicle Moved Off Too Quickly 166
Driver – Smoking 165
Driver – Staff Smoking 137
Driver – Securing Wheelchair 56
Driver – Lack of Toilet facilities 33
Driver – Appearance 33

In total 66,000 complaints have been made in the last 3 years. During the same period 5,400,000,000 (5.4 billion) bus journeys were made in London which makes the complaint rate remarkably low.

Chibuku, ‘the beer of good cheer’

This video refers to drinking skud in Zimbabwe. The drink was originally called chibuku (after the name of the brewery) and was known as ‘the beer of good cheer’. Originally it was sold in wax cartons similar to milk cartons. Now it’s sold in plastic containers called scuds named after the scud missile and the drink is now referred to as scud. The container does actually look like something which you’d ram into a launcher and then send skyward. Here’s a picture of a scud of chibuku.

A good description of chibuku including such information as “Actually, chibuku contains lumps of matter, not dissimilar in texture to cottage cheese, which may or may not be related to sawdust” can be read here. Having drunk chibuku myself I can confirm that this is indeed an accurate description.

PS Nice socks!