More EnviroMMC musings - what's with the bizarre bell? (+ other discussion about functionality of bells)

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py_megapixel

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On older Enviros, the bell that sounds when the stop button is pressed is just a simple "ping". The "Bus Stopping" sign and the corresponding light on the driver's dashboard become illuminated if they weren't already, and this is of course cancelled when the driver presses the door open button at a stop.

On the MMCs, the stopping sign and light behave the same. However, the bell is different, and seems to have some strange logic behind it: it's "ding, ding" in the driver's cab, then "ding, ding" in the passenger compartment. This effectively means that where there was one short ring before, there are now four longer ones. Unless the stopping sign was already on - in which case it only sounds in the cab and not the passenger compartment.

What's the point of this system? I've never known a driver not stop because they didn't hear the bell (they do after all have the other ways to know that a stop is requested, and the bell tends to reasonably loud in the cab anyway!), so it seems somewhat over-complicated to me!
 
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lxfe_mxtterz

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I have no idea of the intended logic behind it, but the four "dings" on the Enviro MMCs - as opposed to the one on the regular Enviros - give me, as a passenger, extra reassurance when requesting a stop.

To contrast your point in the final paragraph, perhaps I'm just unlucky, but in my area I have had various drivers skip my stop numerous times after pressing the bell, and it's really quite irritating - and thus often stressful when requesting a stop!

One driver for one of my local independents even skipped out two stops in a row after I pressed the bell (twice). I ended up having to shout down the bus and she claimed she couldn't hear the bell; I was eventually let off between two bus stops with a 5 minute walk back to where I needed to be.
 

py_megapixel

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To contrast your point in the final paragraph, perhaps I'm just unlucky, but in my area I have had various drivers skip my stop numerous times after pressing the bell, and it's really quite irritating - and thus often stressful when requesting a stop!

One driver for one of my local independents even skipped out two stops in a row after I pressed the bell (twice). I ended up having to shout down the bus and she claimed she couldn't hear the bell; I was eventually let off between two bus stops with a 5 minute walk back to where I needed to be.
Hmmm... all of the buses in my area are operated by the big companies, while it sounds like you were travelling with smaller independent companies
When we did still have independents round here - not wishing to evoke any negative stereotypes, as I'm sure there are excellently run independents out there - the drivers often seemed quite poorly trained in contrast to the major operators, so maybe the major ones do a better job of this kind of thing?



Someone else I was talking to has speculated that, in the short pause between it ringing in the cab and in the rest of the bus, the driver might be able to cancel it - in which case it wouldn't ring for the rest of the bus, which would presumably avoid some confusion about whether the bus was actually stopping or not. Though I'm not sure in what scenario that would be useful - perhaps a closed bus stop, but you'd expect if a stop was closed the passenger would want to be dropped off at the next one anyway!

That still doesn't explain why it rings twice each time, though - perhaps the designers just thought it sounded nice.
 
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GregA

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On the MMCs, the stopping sign and light behave the same. However, the bell is different, and seems to have some strange logic behind it: it's "ding, ding" in the driver's cab, then "ding, ding" in the passenger compartment. This effectively means that where there was one short ring before, there are now four longer ones. Unless the stopping sign was already on - in which case it only sounds in the cab and not the passenger compartment.
Not sure if it is exactly the same on integral MMCs but I've noticed the following on the E400XLB (on the Volvo B8L chassis).

I don't think the bell rings any differently in the driver's cab compared with the saloon, as it appears (/sounds?) to be at the same volume regardless of where in the bus you are.
When the bell is pressed on the lower deck, it sounds as "ding-ding, [pause], ding-ding", with every "ding" at the same tone (I'll call it a "high" tone), whereas when the bell is pressed on the upper deck, it sounds as "ding-ding, [pause], dong-dumm", where the "ding"s are at the same tone as above (high), but the "dumm" is slightly lower in tone (medium) and the "dong" is lower again (low), so from the upper deck it sounds as "high-high, [pause], low-medium". I suppose this could be useful to the driver in that it lets them know where the passenger is coming from, so if they stop and they see in their mirror that nobody (on the lower deck) is getting up then it prompts them to wait/check the upstairs camera for someone getting off from there.

I think the sound is also different if you press the bell after it's already been pressed, in that you only get the initial "ding-ding" without anything afterwards, but I'm not 100% on that as it's been a while since I was last on an E400MMC.

I hope at least some of that makes sense! :D
 

lxfe_mxtterz

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Hmmm... all of the buses in my area are operated by the big companies, while it sounds like you were travelling with smaller independent companies
When we did still have independents round here - not wishing to evoke any negative stereotypes, as I'm sure there are excellently run independents out there - the drivers often seemed quite poorly trained in contrast to the major operators, so maybe the major ones do a better job of this kind of thing?
Yes, I'd agree with this. The majority of the incidents in which I've had my stop skipped have indeed been with the independent operators - had one incident on Arriva, however, but they are a completely and utterly shambolic operation where I am anyway. Never had a problem with Stagecoach and have always found them very professional.

And whilst I find many of the drivers for the independent companies to be very friendly and pleasant people, I do also get the impression that they aren't trained as well.

In addition to skipping my stop, I've had drivers for these operators drive past me in the dark whilst waiting at bus stops, leaving me to chase after the bus, and I've even had drivers who don't know the route they're driving, with one asking me how much I usually pay for my fare because he had no idea where the village I needed to get to was!
 

py_megapixel

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Yes, I'd agree with this. The majority of the incidents in which I've had my stop skipped have indeed been with the independent operators - had one incident on Arriva, however, but they are a completely and utterly shambolic operation where I am anyway. Never had a problem with Stagecoach and have always found them very professional.
Yes, I would agree with all of that. I don't like Stagecoach as a whole company due to their history of monopolistic behaviour - but in reality, it's hard to complain much because the actual core service they provide - a bus service - is done so much more professionally than

Agree about Arriva too. They're the only major company where I was glad to see that they had withdrawn routes locally! I've had drivers with them who refused to sell me a day ticket because they didn't know how to issue it on the machine; in contrast, Stagecoach drivers in the same situation will always either look through the list of tickets until they find the right one, or failing that radio someone to ask. Not directly to related to the bells, I know, but I think it does suggest there is an issue with how certain companies train their drivers, and I imagine it's the same factors which lead to drivers missing stops.

A bit OT but they also converted one of the routes in the area to high-spec Sapphire buses to much fanfare, with price increases to match, then a year or two later quietly withdrew the Sapphire buses and replaced them with bog-standard ones while keeping the high fares!

I don't think the bell rings any differently in the driver's cab compared with the saloon, as it appears (/sounds?) to be at the same volume regardless of where in the bus you are.
On the ones I've been on, there has always been a pronounced volume difference between the first and second pair of dings - unless you're standing right at the front, near the cab, in which case it sounds about the same. This is why I came to the conclusion that it was ringing differently in the cab compared to the saloon. Maybe Lothian (I think they're the only British operator of the 400XLB?) spec it differently to the operators I use, though,

When the bell is pressed on the lower deck, it sounds as "ding-ding, [pause], ding-ding", with every "ding" at the same tone (I'll call it a "high" tone), whereas when the bell is pressed on the upper deck, it sounds as "ding-ding, [pause], dong-dumm", where the "ding"s are at the same tone as above (high), but the "dumm" is slightly lower in tone (medium) and the "dong" is lower again (low), so from the upper deck it sounds as "high-high, [pause], low-medium".
Now I think about it, yes, that's true. I had noticed it, but never made the connection with where the button is pressed, so thanks for pointing that out!

I suppose this could be useful to the driver in that it lets them know where the passenger is coming from, so if they stop and they see in their mirror that nobody (on the lower deck) is getting up then it prompts them to wait/check the upstairs camera for someone getting off from there.
That's an interesting idea. Also I wonder if the ringing in the cab but not the rest of the bus on subsequent presses of the bell is to allow the driver to keep a mental idea of how many people want that stop (i.e. how many they should be waiting for) without annoying the passengers with repeated dinging.
 

Jordan Adam

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I think the main reason is purely just so it's obvious that the bell has been pressed. I actually really like the bells on the current ADL range, there's something satisfying about it being a "ding ding" rather than just a "ding".

There are multiple speakers throughout the bus that play the bell sound. On the first "ding ding" they all sound while on the second "ding ding" it's only the one near the cab that does.
 
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Class320

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On Enviro 400 MMCs the bell seems to differ depending on whether you press the button upstairs or downstairs.
 
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175mph

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On Enviro 400 MMCs the bell seems to differ depending on whether you press the button upstairs or downstairs.
I find pressing the bell button upstairs produces an almost chime like sound.
 

py_megapixel

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I find pressing the bell button upstairs produces an almost chime like sound.
It does, especially if - as is done pretty much all the time - you hit the bell and then immediately start walking down the stairs. You get quite a nice harmony between the upper and lower deck sounds.
 

L401CJF

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I have no idea why the bells are MMCs are the way they are but I quite like it. On the E400 MMCs yes the bell is different if pressed upstairs.

Regarding driving past stops when the bell has been pressed, it's something I've done myself. An issue on a lot of modern buses - particularly Wright bodies, is that once the bell has been pressed and the stop light illuminates, the bell will not ring in the cab but only at the rear of the bus. The issue is that on some buses it takes an age for the stop light to reset on opening the doors.

So you stop at a stop, open door, let people off, close doors, not noticed the stop light is still on, next stop comes up, passenger presses bell, can't hear it over the rattles as the light is still lit and only the rear bell is sounding.

Worst one for that scenario is Wright Streetlites!
 

darloscott

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I have no idea why the bells are MMCs are the way they are but I quite like it. On the E400 MMCs yes the bell is different if pressed upstairs.

Regarding driving past stops when the bell has been pressed, it's something I've done myself. An issue on a lot of modern buses - particularly Wright bodies, is that once the bell has been pressed and the stop light illuminates, the bell will not ring in the cab but only at the rear of the bus. The issue is that on some buses it takes an age for the stop light to reset on opening the doors.

So you stop at a stop, open door, let people off, close doors, not noticed the stop light is still on, next stop comes up, passenger presses bell, can't hear it over the rattles as the light is still lit and only the rear bell is sounding.

Worst one for that scenario is Wright Streetlites!
Yes that was the same issue on the later Pulsars too, in that the bell would take ages to reset on opening the doors so quite often you’d be away before it has and therefore don’t know when it is pressed again for the next stop. Not very handy on an intensive town service that we used them on!
 

L401CJF

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Yes that was the same issue on the later Pulsars too, in that the bell would take ages to reset on opening the doors so quite often you’d be away before it has and therefore don’t know when it is pressed again for the next stop. Not very handy on an intensive town service that we used them on!
We only have 59 plate pulsars o not an issue on those. The 2013 Hybrid Geminis are a pain for it but the streetlites are on a whole new level of slow with the bell reset! Not to mention the bells are too quiet on them in general.

I recall the slow to clear bell was an issue on some ADLs too, but easy to note they've not reset on an MMC as generally they have a huge red LED light above your head glaring aswell as the stop light on dash.
 

py_megapixel

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We only have 59 plate pulsars o not an issue on those. The 2013 Hybrid Geminis are a pain for it but the streetlites are on a whole new level of slow with the bell reset! Not to mention the bells are too quiet on them in general.

I recall the slow to clear bell was an issue on some ADLs too, but easy to note they've not reset on an MMC as generally they have a huge red LED light above your head glaring aswell as the stop light on dash.
Does the driver have a manual reset button at all?
 

L401CJF

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Does the driver have a manual reset button at all?
No.

The only time I've seen something similar was on a Happy Als Leyland Olympian about 10 years ago that had a retrofitted toggle switch in the cab to turn the bells off completely for when on school services!
 

py_megapixel

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The only time I've seen something similar was on a Happy Als Leyland Olympian about 10 years ago that had a retrofitted toggle switch in the cab to turn the bells off completely for when on school services!
Ah right. Quite a long time ago when I went on trips from school, the school often hired vehicles which were usually public service buses, complete with bells - and "irritate the driver by constantly pressing the bell over and over again" seemed to be a popular game, so I could understand why turning it off would be desirable when you have school children on
 

Cesarcollie

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Ah right. Quite a long time ago when I went on trips from school, the school often hired vehicles which were usually public service buses, complete with bells - and "irritate the driver by constantly pressing the bell over and over again" seemed to be a popular game, so I could understand why turning it off would be desirable when you have school children on

Maybe desirable, but would result in a prohibition if stopped by DVSA....!!
 

CBlue

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Is there really a requirement for the bells to work even when the service being worked doesn't require them?

IIRC even private hire coaches have at least one bell fitted to signal the driver - believe it's a legal requirement on any PSV and has to be functional as a result. Probably a hangover from crew working days and bell codes from the conductor!
 
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