Arriva Bus Company’s Cavalier Attitude

[See also this later article about another incident I reported in 2015.]

On 2nd May, I wrote to Arriva to complain about the driving of one of their bus drivers on 23rd April 2012. Yesterday, after speaking to them on the phone four times in the interim, I finally received a written reply. I will put the reply here first, and then have a look back at the incident to consider the quality of their investigation and response:

Customer Services, 487 Dunstable Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU4 EDS
Customer Services 0844 800 4411

Dear ********

I am writing further to your communication with Arriva on 2nd May 2012 regarding the incident you experienced with a route 538 bus service.

I can confirm that your comments have been forwarded to the manager of the Bolton garage and he has completed his investigation and reported his findings back to me.

The manager has stated that he has viewed the vehicle CCTV from the nearside camera and this shows the bus to be well clear of the cyclist which we believe to be you as it overtakes, you would have been aware the bus was overtaking.

In the managers opinion you should not have moved to the centre lane until the bus had completed overtaking you. However he does accept from our CCTV that we cannot judge the speed of the bike.

The footage on U Tube appears that the bus does cut you up and he presume this was from an off side head mounted camera, the footage therefore is only from one angle whereas the nearside bus camera shows there was a safe distance from the bike.

The driver has reported that he did make a comment towards you and therefore the driver has had a driving assessment, we continue to monitor our drivers with driving standards officers as well as covertly.

I am sorry to learn that you have had cause to complain about our bus service and offer my sincere apologies for the distress this has caused. We aim to provide a reliable and best possible service for our customers and I am sorry that we have been unable to do so on this occasion.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Customer Service team should you encounter further problems‘

Yours sincerely

OK, so here is the video of the incident, which I posted on YouTube:

The observant reader may already notice one or two discrepancies between what was said in the Arriva letter and what is shown in the video clip. In particular:

“[the vehicle CCTV] shows the bus to be well clear of the cyclist which we believe to be you as it overtakes”
Well, the company refuses to let me see the vehicle CCTV, but my own video footage shows this to be simply not true. Either they are looking at a completely different incident, or their CCTV system is extremely misleading or they have a weird idea of what constitutes “well clear”.
“you would have been aware the bus was overtaking.”
I really cannot see what the relevance of that remark is. Is it intended as in: “you would have been aware that I was driving the bus at you, so I did nothing wrong”?
“In the managers [sic] opinion you should not have moved to the centre lane until the bus had completed overtaking you.”
(There is no “centre lane”, so I assume this means the centre of the lane.) It is quite clear from my video footage that I didn’t move to the centre of the lane at all, but maintained my line across the junction. In fact, I ought to have moved to the centre of the lane before approaching the junction to prevent idiots from trying to overtake there, but the fact that I didn’t does not excuse the driver’s behaviour. Now, it would be true to say that the manager didn’t actually say that I moved to the centre, but the words (s)he used would lead any reader to believe that I did. That is a well known technique, which is called “lying by implication”.
“… he [the manager] presume this [my video clip] was from an off side head mounted camera, the footage therefore is only from one angle whereas the nearside bus camera shows there was a safe distance from the bike.”
By mentioning that the camera is mounted on the right of my helmet, the writer is trying to imply that this somehow affects the interpretation of the video footage. This is, of course, nonsense; the centre of the camera is exactly five inches to the right of the centre of the bicycle, and is just inside the rider’s right shoulder. Unfortunately, the company refuses to let me see the vehicle CCTV footage so, again, they must have a very weird idea of what constitutes a “safe passing distance”.
“The driver has reported that he did make a comment towards you”
Although I did overtake the bus further along the road, at no point did the driver and I exchange words, so I fail to see how he could have “[made] a comment towards [me]”. This is a very mysterious remark in the circumstances.

Finally, I think it is worth mentioning what the Highway Code has to say in relation this situation. The following are extracts from rules that I consider are relevant:

Rule 162: Before overtaking you should make sure … there is a suitable gap in front of the road user you plan to overtake.

Rule 163: Overtake only when it is safe and legal to do so. You should … Allow plenty of room. Move back to the left as soon as you can but do not cut in … give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car.

Rule 167: DO NOT overtake where you might come into conflict with other road users. For example … approaching or at a road junction on either side of the road, … where the road narrows, … when you would force another road user to swerve or slow down.

Rule 212: When passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room (see Rules 162-167). If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so.

Rule 213: Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.

This driver has broken every one of these rules.

I asked the lady I spoke to on the phone what is the next step in the complaints process if I want to take it further. She said there isn’t one, but in fact there is: my next port of call will be the North-Western Traffic Commissioner.

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14 Responses to Arriva Bus Company’s Cavalier Attitude

  1. eddo says:

    im afraid that you may still get the same replie on this matter,cctv is always made avalible if requested in writing.

    • MrHappyCyclist says:

      Hopefully not, but I haven’t got the final conclusion from the Traffic Commisioner yet. I’ll update when I have.

  2. Joolz says:

    Glad to see you taking this further. Sounds like the bus company expects to be able to fob you off with weak arguments.

    • MrHappyCyclist says:

      Thanks. I haven’t got far yet, though. I got an acknowledgement from the Traffic Commissioner, and they asked me to give consent for them to contact Arriva about the incident, which I did. Since then, I’ve been waiting for a response for about two months now. I emailed them again yesterday.

  3. Alan G says:

    can’t you use the Data Protection Act to request a copy of the video if it shows you on it by supplying a recent photograph to identify you. (surely a formality if they have already identified you by looking at the video after your complaint)

  4. I would also urge that they send a copy of the cctv under data protection. I have lost count of the times I have had problems with Arriva. I pictured one of them reading a novel while driving and our local paper put it on the front page.

  5. peter jones says:

    Don’t you think the small headcams give a narrow perspective close up? I have watched a few of your videos and I think you expect to be able to use as much road as you like without much consideration for other road users. I ride a bike and try my best to stay outof the way of vehicles as it can be dangerous trying to hold space and road, in some of them you have a cycle lane at the side of you but seem to want to use the road, you complain at how close vehicles pass you but then pass vehicles even closer than they pass you. I think you are just a moaner and trying to cause problems and get in peoples way to be confrontational. I don’t know what you get from all this. I think you should try to share the road with other users and learn to enjoy your bike ride instead of looking for problems just so you can post it online.

    • MrHappyCyclist says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by “narrow perspective”. Explain.

      It’s clear from the rest of your remarks that you have not really bothered to read any of the articles here before making your comment. You could start by reading my “Message to Courteous Motorists”.

      Your comment seems particularly strange as it is posted on an article about a case in which a bus driver was clearly not prepared to share the road and made an extremely dangerous manoeuvre around a cyclist who was riding too far to the left; on an article in which my mistake was to use the cycle lane on the approach to the junction rather than moving out into the main traffic lane as advised by the Bikeability training scheme and many other references.

      You claim you are a cyclist, but I’d be interested to hear just how much training you have had for cycling on the road. Have you actually done any? Bikeability for example, the national standard for cycle training? I suspect you haven’t done any at all and are therefore writing from a position of complete ignorance.

      You are also making a comment after watching a few examples of where motorists were driving in a stupid and dangerous manner. Have a look at the following video for a taste of what it is like 99.9% of the time:

  6. Dorothy Hankin says:

    You as an individual have the right to view CCTV footage of yourself. A pity you did not pursue this issue in writing to the person in charge of CCTV. The company would have had to comply with your request or face possible repercussions from the Information Commissioner.

  7. hayley jane says:

    I’m not a cyclist but I have just come across this after the same number bus going the same way almost caused me injury and was down right rude as well as racist, it seems the drivers of these busses besides the odd few have a complete disregard for passenger or other peoples safety and a complete disregard for peoples feelings too, I don’t expect them to care about me, they don’t know me, but I catch the same bus every day on the way to work, an incident today where he’s almost trapped my hand in the door by slamming them in my face and telling me ‘you’re not getting on the bus’ and said some sort of word in a foreign language says it all, I have made a complaint to arriva and they’ve said someone will be in touch with me when the manager has reviewed this, lets see what their defensive result is now. no matter what you do, the passenger or person that isn’t the driver is always wrong. disgusting service and disgusting person.

  8. Mr A Buckenham says:

    In short, issues with a lunatic Arriva bus driver, right up my cars rear end, out of service bus, trying to bully me to go fasterthan 30mph speed limit, daughter in car very upset, Arriva gave same lame appoligy, Arriva employ some moronic lunatics, and needs to kick their butts

  9. Jon says:

    I’m in the Arriva net of denial , bus driver seen texting , high Wycombe depot reports he has No knowledge . Then weds this week seen the same driver doing the same , reported to the police now , see how he deals with the law

  10. rose says:

    Atitude of drivers stinks rude and unhelpfull

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