West Yorkshire bus drivers should be friendly, report claims

Bus drivers should “make eye contact” with passengers in order to improve perceptions of services, according to a report into public transport use in West Yorkshire.

Bus drivers are being encouraged to "make eye contact" with customers.

The comments were among findings listed in a report by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) transport committee into why bus passenger numbers have recently decreased.

It added that drivers can provide “increased emotional satisfaction” when they behave in a more helpful manner.

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The report, which is set to be discussed by the committee this week, stated: “The role of the driver emerges as a key factor with the potential to address some of the negative emotional responses to bus travel.

Bus drivers are being encouraged to "make eye contact" with customers.

“Improved emotional satisfaction and connection with bus services could be achieved, for example, if drivers are constant on the same route at the same time; acknowledge passengers and provide eye contact; help with passenger queries; keep customers informed; and help customers onto buses, if needed.”

The report suggested that existing evidence “based on a number of international research studies” shows that women generally have more negative views of public transport than men.

It added: “Bus users experience a wide spectrum of emotional responses to bus use.

“These range from a sense of pride and trust in services which are reliable and good value for money, to anxiety and irritation whilst waiting for buses to arrive, or feeling unsafe whilst using a bus, travelling to and from bus stops, or waiting at bus stops.”

The findings come alongside plans from WYCA’s West Yorkshire Bus Alliance to provide an “improved customer offer”. The priorities for the scheme include a driver training programme, which will “deliver further training to improve driver interaction with customers”.

The Leeds Transport Strategy, was released by Leeds City Council back in June 2018 and included a target of doubling bus passengers in the city over the next 10 years.

Figures released late last year had in fact shown a decrease in passengers.