My bus, from the centre of Birmingham to my godforsaken home somewhere in the West Midlands, runs every hour, and takes about 50 minutes. It's a horrible journey at the best of times, but when it goes wrong, it enters whole new realms of gut-burning hatred.
Yesterday, the bus didn't turn up. At all. I waited at that damn stop (in the rain, in the open, because FirstBus(my company) prefer to stick their stops out in the arse end of nowhere rather than use the swish Birmingham City Buses shelters) for an hour and a quarter, because the 17.25 bus had gone completely awol, and no other driver on the road (including the 18.25 driver had seen it)
Today I crawled out of the hell hole that is my job working with Young Offenders, to find that it was pissing down with rain, and that the conveniently located bus stop in the arse end of nowhere was under a foot of water, and the splash from passing cars was bouncing off the walls and soaking me from both sides at once. Being disinclined to catch pneumonia, I waited at the next stop instead, which wasn't a FirstBus stop, but had the advantage of not resembling a swimming pool. Did the bus stop for me? Did it bollocks. He sailed past in a wreath of spray and obscenities, and damn nearly had my arm off as he went. So my 50 minute commute took over two hours, as I phoned a friend and froze my arse off outside the Chip Shop.
Of course I complained, what do you take me for? The letter can be read below, and tips for future complaints would be very welcome.
I am writing to complain about the poor service I have received on the No 146 route Birmingham-Redditch.
On 10/10/2006 I waited over an hour and a quarter for the 17.25 bus to Redditch to arrive at Bristol Road (just beyond the Bellevue medical centre, on the A38, heading out of town). I arrived at the stop at 17.15 and a bus did not turn up until 18.35. The driver on board informed me that he had not seen the previous bus at all. I find this level of service completely unacceptable. One of the other people waiting was a disabled lady, who was forced to lean on her sticks with no seating for over an hour. There is a perfectly good shelter 40 m down the road. It even has the timetable displayed there, but your drivers inform me they no longer stop there, and we have to wait in the open with no seats.
Today, 11/10/2006, I found that the usual bus stop (just beyond the Bellevue medical centre, on the A38, heading out of town) was under over a foot of water, and I was being soaked by every passing car. Eventually I was forced to move to a Travel West Midlands stop around 20 m further down the road towards town, still on the same route, and within sight of the First bus stop. When the 146 appeared at 17.35, I put my arm out very clearly and early, so that I was visible. The driver slowed down, waved his arms at me, and then took off up the road at a spanking pace. I ran after him in the hope that he would stop at the correct stop (and got very wet in the process) but he only sped up.
I had to wait in the pouring rain for a further 45 minutes before a friend was able to come and pick me up, costing me money both for phone boxes and for diesel.
I am utterly disgusted by the lack of service shown by your company. It is completely unacceptable for a bus to simply disappear, leaving its passengers stranded for over an hour with no other route home. It is equally disgusting that paying customers should be expected to stand in ankle deep water for half an hour to catch their bus, or that your drivers refuse to make any allowances for weather conditions and your failure to put your bus stops somewhere sensible.
I request a full refund for the £15 weekly pass that I used on 10/10/2006, as I most certainly did not get my money's worth. I would also like a refund for the £4.50 fare bought on 11/10/2006. Once you have made contact with me, I shall then send you the bill for the diesel I had to buy in order to get home.
Further to this, I would like a full written apology from your company, as well as an explanation of why your timetables are displayed in bus stops at which your drivers refuse to stop, why your bus failed to turn up at all on 10/10/2006, and what your company will be doing to rectify such problems.
Yours faithfully, Alexandra Williams