Having the bus pull out just as the crowd off the train approaches is not good customer service

For the second time in a week, I’ve watched as tonight’s 6:31pm route 703 bus pulls out just as the train (due at 6:30pm) departs Bentleigh station and a crowd of people off the train approaches the stop.

Now, I accept that buses should run to time. And the operator contract probably penalises late-running (bearing in mind only around 5% of bus services actually get monitored).

But I think most people would take the view that the bus could wait another — perhaps — 30-45 seconds to allow the approaching (and very visible, even in a mirror) crowd of people to board.

Given most (if not all) those people already having a valid ticket, I’d be surprised if the schedule couldn’t be made up on the way to the next timepoint.

Not that it matters a great deal, given this specific bus service is timetabled to terminate at South Oakleigh depot at 6:44pm and go out of service.

Me? I didn’t want that bus. I am lucky enough that I can walk home from the station. But it’s common to see a dozen or more boarding each bus from the station in peak hour, and each person on the bus means one less car clogging up the station carpark and local streets.

Yes, it’s true the next bus was only 15 minutes away. But that’s 15 minutes needless waiting for those people, and just the type of bad customer service that leaves people wondering if perhaps they should abandon PT and head back to their cars instead.

Ventura, you can do better.

  • For bonus “grade-separation is needed” points, check the ambulance — again — delayed by the boom gates.
  • Correction: the train wasn’t the 6:30pm; it was an earlier one running late. This isn’t significant — the bus driver should still not leave when he’s not late, and a big crowd of people is approaching the stop.

Update Thursday: Feedback from Ventura Buslines (via Twitter):

“Daniel the company policy is to look around for any passengers that are wanting to board the bus.”
“The driver has been spoken to & the time for waiting has been changed to 1835 to ensure passengers can get to the bus.”