Why don't double deckers in the UK have seat belts?

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miklcct

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I have moved from Hong Kong to the UK recently, and my first glance about the buses here is that, it is so 1980s! They are basically the same as the buses in the 1980s in Hong Kong with very few exceptions (low floor, and electronic plates).

The most prominent thing here is that, we don't even have seat belts on buses! This has reminded me an accident back in Hong Kong where a bus overturned because it went over the speed limit (50 km/h) entering a roundabout, and a passenger on a high-risk seat (the front of the upper deck) was killed being thrown out of the bus in the accident. The bus involved was an old model without seat belts, and all new buses in Hong Kong since 1998 are fitted with seat belts in high-risk seats (including the front of the upper deck, the middle seat of the back row, and face-to-face seats).

And here, I have seen speed limits entering roundabouts as high as 40, and the national speed limit for buses can be as high as 70 (while in Hong Kong, the speed limit for buses, along with other heavy vehicles, is capped at 70 km/h even on motorways - the speed limit in Singapore is even lower at 60 km/h). Won't it be much more dangerous if buses travel so fast without seat belts protecting high-risk seats?

Other things about UK buses which I feel so dated include:
  • There is only a single door on the buses, which makes boarding and alighting slow. Buses in Hong Kong are always equipped with 2 doors, one for boarding and one for alighting. Buses with 3 doors existed in Hong Kong as well but infeasible with the current air-con buses designs, however, 3-door buses are deployed in other cities with longer vehicle length, allowing one door for boarding and two doors for alighting (such as Beijing and Singapore), reducing the stopping time even further.
  • Drivers need to provide changes instead of the exact tender put into a farebox like in HK, or completely cashless as in most continential European cities, which also makes boarding slow.
  • The buses are so short with only 2 axles, limiting passenger capacity. Most routes in Hong Kong are served using 12 m double deckers, and gradually moving to 12.8 m, with shorter buses only used on services with physical limitations. In Berlin, double-decker buses can be as long as 13.7 m. Such buses can accommodate more than 150 passengers in full capacity (including standees).
  • There is no air conditioning in most of the buses here. In Hong Kong and Singapore, non-air-conditioned buses were all phased out around 2012, although some passengers complained about the resulting fare increase as air-conditioned buses were more expensive than non-air-conditioned buses.
Why do UK buses seem so dated when compared to other countries in the Commonwealth which have a heritage from the UK, even in terms of safety equipment?
 
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JonathanH

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There is no air conditioning in most of the buses here. In Hong Kong and Singapore, non-air-conditioned buses were all phased out around 2012, although some passengers complained about the resulting fare increase as air-conditioned buses were more expensi
Too heavy - different climate

Drivers need to provide changes instead of the exact tender put into a farebox like in HK, or completely cashless as in most continential European cities, which also makes boarding slow.
There are UK places with fareboxes but in reality Contactless payment is the way forward.

The buses are so short with only 2 axles, limiting passenger capacity.
They generally offer enough capacity - no point making them longer just for the sake of it and many places have an historic road network with tight road junctions.

There is only a single door on the buses, which makes boarding and alighting slow.
Dual door buses are used where they are useful - eg London - but realistically a dual door layout uses up space and is something else to be maintained.
 

JonathanH

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Because "not invented here"? Though people would be unlikely to wear seat belts - most people don't on coaches even though it is a legal requirement.
How many recent coach trips are you basing that assessment on? It clearly has become more common on coaches since it became a legal requirement. I'm not sure seat belts are needed on normal buses in cities.
 

Gloster

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I don’t know much about Hong Kong and am not an expert, but I suspect that streets are wider and straighter than here. 12 m buses might well have problems in many parts of the country.
 
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Bletchleyite

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Too heavy - different climate

Not a lot of non-aircon cars these days. The bus industry needs to catch up. It also solves the steamed up windows and "smell of wee" (actually a musty smell of rotting upholstery).

There are UK places with fareboxes but in reality Contactless payment is the way forward.

Agreed.

Dual door buses are used where they are useful - eg London - but realistically a dual door layout uses up space and is something else to be maintained.

They are useful in far more places than London - basically, any cross-city or multicentric route - but the conservative (small C) UK bus industry is too worried about the odd person fare-dodging.

It took COVID to force hands over contactless, and even then it is done in a really archaic way of still having a discussion with the driver and a paper ticket being issued, rather than tap-on, tap-off as most other countries do it and really speeds operation.

It has long astonished me that UK bus operators won't take obvious actions (dual door, off bus ticketing, tap on and off) that would reduce the PVR of a good number of routes. It's noticeable just how long the dwells of provincial buses are (usually at least 30 seconds even only for one boarding) compared with London where they're maybe 10-15 seconds in most cases.

How many recent coach trips are you basing that assessment on?

Quite a few on the Oxford-Bedford X5, though I suppose that has more of a feel of a posh-vehicle bus service than a long distance coach.

I'd agree it has increased, though.
 

JonathanH

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Quite a few on the Oxford-Bedford X5, though I suppose that has more of a feel of a posh-vehicle bus service than a long distance coach.

I'd agree it has increased, though.
Fair enough. I do note that the number of sharp braking events at speed on coaches is more than on buses.

The thing about coaches that I think tips the balance for seat belts are the (thankfully rare) occasions that coaches ended up on their sides with unrestrained passengers going out through windows. Those events on buses are much / even more rare.
 

Bletchleyite

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The thing about coaches that I think tips the balance for seat belts are the (thankfully rare) occasions that coaches ended up on their sides with unrestrained passengers going out through windows. Those events on buses are much / even more rare.

Yes, true. I don't recall ever seeing that reported as happening to a bus. The thing you do see quite often, indeed the only form of serious city bus accident you seem to see often, is the top getting knocked off on a low bridge on a diversion. Seat belts would be negative for that, as if you see it coming you need to get down very quickly or your head is coming off too.

I'm not sure there is any benefit to seat belts on city buses.
 

miklcct

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Not a lot of non-aircon cars these days. The bus industry needs to catch up. It also solves the steamed up windows and "smell of wee" (actually a musty smell of rotting upholstery).



Agreed.



They are useful in far more places than London - basically, any cross-city or multicentric route - but the conservative (small C) UK bus industry is too worried about the odd person fare-dodging.

It took COVID to force hands over contactless, and even then it is done in a really archaic way of still having a discussion with the driver and a paper ticket being issued, rather than tap-on, tap-off as most other countries do it and really speeds operation.

It has long astonished me that UK bus operators won't take obvious actions (dual door, off bus ticketing, tap on and off) that would reduce the PVR of a good number of routes. It's noticeable just how long the dwells of provincial buses are (usually at least 30 seconds even only for one boarding) compared with London where they're maybe 10-15 seconds in most cases.



Quite a few on the Oxford-Bedford X5, though I suppose that has more of a feel of a posh-vehicle bus service than a long distance coach.

I'd agree it has increased, though.
In terms of payment, the most archaic way is to have an operator on board to sell tickets. It was abolished in 1970s in Hong Kong for farebox payment in order to reduce the cost and also increase the fare at the same time (because Hong Kong transitioned to a system which the fare paid only depends on the boarding stop, except a small handful of rural routes, which remained largely to date). But more advanced cities are using tap-in and tap-out systems (such as Singapore, Taichung and Beijing), or zonal systems (e.g. Prague and Riga).

For example, in Prague, all inner city routes require tickets to be bought before boarding. Empty tickets can be bought in bulk in major stations of in ticket machines near most bus stops. A ticket is activated by inserting it into a validating machine on board (there are multiple such that they are accessible easily regardless of which door is used, and there is no boarding / alighting designation for the doors) which prints the date / time onto the empty ticket. Such ticket can also be used in outer city routes as long as the correct zone is bought, but passengers are allowed to buy ticket when boarding on such routes as well because ticket machines may not be easily accessible in rural areas.

In Taichung, bus services are heavily subsidized by the government in order to reduce traffic congestion, to the extent that free travel is offered for trips within 10 km as long as a card is used. You can even get off the bus just short of 10 km, and transfer to the next bus to reset the counter for continued free travel, as long as it is not the same vehicle (the use of multiple cards on the same vehicle is considered fare evasion). And since 2019, the fare is capped at NT$10 (i.e. quarter pound sterling) for longer distance journey as well (but since 2021 the free or discounted travel has been limited to resident pass only, for visitors the basic fare has moved to NT$5 discount from cash, i.e. NT$15 compared to NT$20 in cash)! However if paid in cash, there is no free travel possible.
 
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deltic

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Other things about UK buses which I feel so dated include:
  • There is only a single door on the buses, which makes boarding and alighting slow. Buses in Hong Kong are always equipped with 2 doors, one for boarding and one for alighting. Buses with 3 doors existed in Hong Kong as well but infeasible with the current air-con buses designs, however, 3-door buses are deployed in other cities with longer vehicle length, allowing one door for boarding and two doors for alighting (such
Why do UK buses seem so dated when compared to other countries in the Commonwealth which have a heritage from the UK, even in terms of safety equipment?
Ironically 30-40 years ago most double deckers had 2 doors but they were taken out when buses were deregualted. Bus passes were also frequently used then as well
 

notadriver

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Don’t many countries restrict the speed of buses without seatbelts to 70 or 80 kph ?
 

johncrossley

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Why do UK buses seem so dated when compared to other countries in the Commonwealth which have a heritage from the UK, even in terms of safety equipment?

@Bletchleyite has explained everything very well. Basically buses (except in London) in the UK are not considered a tool in which to combat congestion or pollution. They are simply intended to provide transportation for those without cars. Therefore everything is done to minimise cost, not to encourage usage.
 

Bletchleyite

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One other point about air con is the fuel consumption penalty.

With cars and trains it is usually considered that the flatter bodyside without holes (windows) reducing air resistance and turbulence means that there actually isn't a considerable fuel consumption penalty. I thought the main issue was weight of the equipment, which would mean you'd need to go 3-axle on deckers and thus massively increase the cost (and is the reason why the "Boris bus" doesn't have it)?

@Bletchleyite has explained everything very well. Basically buses (except in London) in the UK are not considered a tool in which to combat congestion or pollution. They are simply intended to provide transportation for those without cars. Therefore everything is done to minimise cost, not to encourage usage.

Slightly cynical, but I think there is a lot in that, yes. Most buses outside London offer a very unattractive product and so people only use them if the car really isn't viable or they don't own one. Only in a very small number of cases, mostly involving Stagecoach (Gold, the Lakes service and the Oxford-Bedford X5, plus a few Scottish ones) and bus companies that either are or were managed by Alex Hornby (i.e. Trent and Transdev Blazefield), does the effort seem to go in. I'm sure there are others, but in the vast majority of cases this cynic's line really is not at all far from the truth.

The answer usually comes back "but nobody complains about the bus being a bit hot/the windows being steamed up/the seats being a bit narrow". This misses the point. You need to be asking the car drivers why they don't use the bus, and this sort of stuff will then come up.
 

johncrossley

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I thought the main issue was weight of the equipment, which would mean you'd need to go 3-axle on deckers and thus massively increase the cost (and is the reason why the "Boris bus" doesn't have it)?

If you look at the latest double deckers from around the world, most of them are three axle for that reason. Fans of the British way of doing things make a big deal of the fact that Berlin has bought British made double deckers, but even they have three axles.
 

Andyh82

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The most prominent thing here is that, we don't even have seat belts on buses! This has reminded me an accident back in Hong Kong where a bus overturned because it went over the speed limit (50 km/h) entering a roundabout, and a passenger on a high-risk seat (the front of the upper deck) was killed being thrown out of the bus in the accident. The bus involved was an old model without seat belts, and all new buses in Hong Kong since 1998 are fitted with seat belts in high-risk seats (including the front of the upper deck, the middle seat of the back row, and face-to-face seats).

Why do UK buses seem so dated when compared to other countries in the Commonwealth which have a heritage from the UK, even in terms of safety equipment?

I’m not aware of a great deal of buses in the UK overturning, and I’m certainly not aware of a great deal of situations where passengers are being thrown from top deck windows, so I’m not sure it’s a big an issue as you seem to think.

There is no way customers would put on a seat belt on a top deck of an urban city bus


I’m also finding it quite funny that people here are suggesting we are doing double deckers wrong because they aren’t 3 axle, what does that say about that vast majority of Europe that doesn’t even have double deckers?
 

miklcct

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The answer usually comes back "but nobody complains about the bus being a bit hot/the windows being steamed up/the seats being a bit narrow". This misses the point. You need to be asking the car drivers why they don't use the bus, and this sort of stuff will then come up.
Actually this point is the VERY last reason why people aren't taking buses. In the 1970s Hong Kong experimented two luxury bus routes and a few luxury minibus routes as an attempt to drive down car usage from the rich area but they all failed, and this should be the last point to consider in terms of service improvement, when ridership is high enough to invest in it.

The most probably reason commonly accepted in the world that people don't use the bus is because:
  • There is no bus going to the destination, or even worse, in the direction towards the destination making even transferring buses impossible, forcing one to use a car.
  • The bus going to the destination deviates significant from the most direct route by making a lot of detours in residential areas (as the only route serving the area), making bus travel unattractive.
  • The bus to the destination does not run at the time required by the passenger, e.g. I need to arrive work at 09:00 but the hourly bus arrive at 09:10. This also applies to transferring between buses where the timetables aren't coordinated, for example, transferring between half-hourly buses on a highway interchange but the second comes 25 minutes after the first.
  • The bus too often does not come on schedule due to traffic congestion, or worse, the bus is full and the next one is 30 minutes later which I have no guarantee I can get on, making people drive and making traffic congestion even worse. The fact that a bus is behind schedule and the bus is full is correlated, because a bus behind schedule picks up more passengers than usual.

I’m not aware of a great deal of buses in the UK overturning, and I’m certainly not aware of a great deal of situations where passengers are being thrown from top deck windows, so I’m not sure it’s a big an issue as you seem to think.

There is no way customers would put on a seat belt on a top deck of an urban city bus


I’m also finding it quite funny that people here are suggesting we are doing double deckers wrong because they aren’t 3 axle, what does that say about that vast majority of Europe that doesn’t even have double deckers?
There was a major accident in October 2019 where a double decker in Devon overturned on A385 driven by a driver new to the route.

In fact, the overturning accident in 1998 in Hong Kong where a double decker overturned speeding on a flyover curve caused speed limiter to be installed on all buses afterwards. Before that, a lot of buses speeded on motorways to 90-100 km/h in Hong Kong. Buses driven from Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun on Tuen Mun Road, which is 18 km long with speed limit 70 km/h (relaxed to 80 km/h on 2/3 of it later after highway improvement, but speed limit for buses always remains at 70 km/h) in 13 minutes were common, and there were rumours that Mercedes Benz O305 made the journey in 10 minutes! Now, the normal travel time is about 18 minutes, with an interchange station on the motorway added recently.
 
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Gloster

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The answer usually comes back "but nobody complains about the bus being a bit hot/the windows being steamed up/the seats being a bit narrow". This misses the point. You need to be asking the car drivers why they don't use the bus, and this sort of stuff will then come up.
Bus passengers don’t complain out of a mixture of apathy, the knowledge that people who travel by buses are considered to be of no consequence (*) and so will be ignored, and because complaining about just about anything in the UK is made as difficult as possible. The bus industry mirrors much of the British economy, in that it is designed to shovel as much cash as possible out of the taxpayers’s or individual’s pocket into the bank accounts of large companies. It also displays short-termism, lack of co-ordination and an unwillingness to consider the wider picture (such as an efficient transport system being a necessary part of a successful economy).

* - Witness the comment about anyone over thirty on a bus being a failure that is often credited to Margaret Thatcher. There is no record of her saying it and it probably originated with the minor poet Brian Howard, as repeated by the Duchess of Westminster.
 

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In fact, the overturning accident in 1998 in Hong Kong where a double decker overturned speeding on a flyover curve caused speed limiter to be installed on all buses afterwards. Before that, a lot of buses speeded on motorways to 90-100 km/h in Hong Kong. Buses driven from Tsuen Wan to Tuen Mun on Tuen Mun Road, which is 18 km long with speed limit 70 km/h (relaxed to 80 km/h on 2/3 of it later after highway improvement, but speed limit for buses always remains at 70 km/h) in 13 minutes were common, and there were rumours that Mercedes Benz O305 made the journey in 10 minutes! Now, the normal travel time is about 18 minutes, with an interchange station on the motorway added recently.

I guess the issue is that double decker buses (as opposed to coaches) are routinely used on motorways in Hong Kong. Such routes do exist in the UK but they aren't that common. Double decker coaches in the UK do have seat belts and have done for decades. Having said that there was a double decker coach crash near Heathrow about 15 years ago, leading to National Express withdrawing all their double deckers, although they have started to use them again in recent years.
 

miklcct

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Bus passengers don’t complain out of a mixture of apathy, the knowledge that people who travel by buses are considered to be of no consequence (*) and so will be ignored, and because complaining about just about anything in the UK is made as difficult as possible. The bus industry mirrors much of the British economy, in that it is designed to shovel as much cash as possible out of the taxpayers’s or individual’s pocket into the bank accounts of large companies. It also displays short-termism, lack of co-ordination and an unwillingness to consider the wider picture (such as an efficient transport system being a necessary part of a successful economy).

* - Witness the comment about anyone over thirty on a bus being a failure that is often credited to Margaret Thatcher. There is no record of her saying it and it probably originated with the minor poet Brian Howard, as repeated by the Duchess of Westminster.
In Hong Kong, I had to complain a lot because the bus driver on a particularly didn't like to open the boarding door to let me board. In some cases the bus skipped the stop directly, and some cases the bus stopped, but only the alighting door was opened. In all cases there are a lot of passenger at the stop and I signalled clearly to the driver. The route involved is the route which received the highest number of complaints in Hong Kong because of not enough capacity (in peak hours, there can be 10 buses within 40 minutes, i.e. 100% adhereance to the 4-minute headway, but they are all full). Driving is not affordable in that area despite the trip is only 5 km because it involves the most expensive harbour crossing, costing HK$75 for a private car and HK$25 for a motorcycle.

And today, a month after arriving the UK, I had to make my first formal complaint to the bus company because the half-hourly express bus I intended to take, pulled out to overtake another bus at the bus stop at the moment that other bus passed the station slowly (suspecting I wanted to get on but I wanted to take the bus behind) and I raised my arm. That was a 6-minute journey for me, as a result, I had to either take another bus which only goes halfway in my desired direction and walk 25 minutes / pay for another bus on a competing company to my destination, or wait for 30 minutes for another direct bus.

I guess the issue is that double decker buses (as opposed to coaches) are routinely used on motorways in Hong Kong. Such routes do exist in the UK but they aren't that common. Double decker coaches in the UK do have seat belts and have done for decades. Having said that there was a double decker coach crash near Heathrow about 15 years ago, leading to National Express withdrawing all their double deckers, although they have started to use them again in recent years.
That's true in Hong Kong, double decker buses full of standing passengers are used on motorways. After a serious accident, some councillors suggested the idea of banning standing passengers on motorway bus routes, but it was impractical because 50% more drivers were needed under such circumstances. In fact, 9 out of 10 buses are full of standing passengers on peak hours, and a bus route without standing passengers on the motorway in peak hours is a candidate for headway reduction.

It's a bit of cultural shock here when all the half-hourly express buses travelling between the city centre and surrounding towns run with nearly all seats empty on the express section. For example, the bus I took from Bournemouth to Lymington only had 2 passengers on board (including me) when it entered Wessex Way. Standing was expected for such routes in the final stops before the express section, even in non-peak hours.
 
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WM Bus

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  • Drivers need to provide changes instead of the exact tender put into a farebox like in HK, or completely cashless as in most continential European cities, which also makes boarding slow.

  • There is only a single door on the buses, which makes boarding and alighting slow. Buses in Hong Kong are always equipped with 2 doors, one for boarding and one for alighting. Buses with 3 doors existed in Hong Kong as well but infeasible with the current air-con buses designs, however, 3-door buses are deployed in other cities with longer vehicle length, allowing one door for boarding and two doors for alighting (such as Beijing and Singapore), reducing the stopping time even further.

National Express West Midlands (NXWM) have exact fare boxes and have had for many years.
I'm not sure dual door would work at places like Birmingham International on the X1 where there's only 1 glass door into the indoor waiting area.
There were the bendy buses that were used on the 67 though, alight only on the rear door, but those were scrapped 6 years back.

Landflight single deckers have seat belts unusually as welll on south Solihull routes.
 
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HST274

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a really archaic way of still having a discussion with the driver and a paper ticket being issued, rather than tap-on, tap-off as most other countries do it and really speeds operation.
Agreed. If you have Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) swift pass you have to hold down the pass, ask for the specific ticket, they input it into the system, then finally the machine prints the ticket. Most people don't take the paper ticket anyway.
 
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johncrossley

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as a result, I had to either take another bus which only goes halfway in my desired direction and walk 25 minutes / pay for another bus on a competing company to my destination, or wait for 30 minutes for another direct bus.

Hopefully such nonsense where you have to wait for your company's bus will be a thing of the past as a result of the recent national bus policy. Bournemouth/Poole is one the areas most affected by this issue. (Incidentally, London doesn't have this problem as deregulation was never introduced there).
 

Mikey C

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I have moved from Hong Kong to the UK recently, and my first glance about the buses here is that, it is so 1980s! They are basically the same as the buses in the 1980s in Hong Kong with very few exceptions (low floor, and electronic plates).

The most prominent thing here is that, we don't even have seat belts on buses! This has reminded me an accident back in Hong Kong where a bus overturned because it went over the speed limit (50 km/h) entering a roundabout, and a passenger on a high-risk seat (the front of the upper deck) was killed being thrown out of the bus in the accident. The bus involved was an old model without seat belts, and all new buses in Hong Kong since 1998 are fitted with seat belts in high-risk seats (including the front of the upper deck, the middle seat of the back row, and face-to-face seats).

And here, I have seen speed limits entering roundabouts as high as 40, and the national speed limit for buses can be as high as 70 (while in Hong Kong, the speed limit for buses, along with other heavy vehicles, is capped at 70 km/h even on motorways - the speed limit in Singapore is even lower at 60 km/h). Won't it be much more dangerous if buses travel so fast without seat belts protecting high-risk seats?

Other things about UK buses which I feel so dated include:
  • There is only a single door on the buses, which makes boarding and alighting slow. Buses in Hong Kong are always equipped with 2 doors, one for boarding and one for alighting. Buses with 3 doors existed in Hong Kong as well but infeasible with the current air-con buses designs, however, 3-door buses are deployed in other cities with longer vehicle length, allowing one door for boarding and two doors for alighting (such as Beijing and Singapore), reducing the stopping time even further.
  • Drivers need to provide changes instead of the exact tender put into a farebox like in HK, or completely cashless as in most continential European cities, which also makes boarding slow.
  • The buses are so short with only 2 axles, limiting passenger capacity. Most routes in Hong Kong are served using 12 m double deckers, and gradually moving to 12.8 m, with shorter buses only used on services with physical limitations. In Berlin, double-decker buses can be as long as 13.7 m. Such buses can accommodate more than 150 passengers in full capacity (including standees).
  • There is no air conditioning in most of the buses here. In Hong Kong and Singapore, non-air-conditioned buses were all phased out around 2012, although some passengers complained about the resulting fare increase as air-conditioned buses were more expensive than non-air-conditioned buses.
Why do UK buses seem so dated when compared to other countries in the Commonwealth which have a heritage from the UK, even in terms of safety equipment?
If you're going to compare Hong Kong, a massive urban metropolis with a high population density, with anywhere it surely has to be London

London buses have 2 doors, indeed the Borismasters are 3 door double deckers
London buses are cash free, whether using the London "Oyster" smartcard or Contactless cards. You don't even get a paper ticket
Longer buses wouldn't fit on the streets
Hong Kong is warmer than the UK, Singapore MASSIVELY warmer and more humid than the UK.

Seat belts in the upper front seats might make sense, but surely it's standing passengers who are most at risk? And it's not as if London buses run on fast roads anyway...
 

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With cars and trains it is usually considered that the flatter bodyside without holes (windows) reducing air resistance and turbulence means that there actually isn't a considerable fuel consumption penalty. I thought the main issue was weight of the equipment, which would mean you'd need to go 3-axle on deckers and thus massively increase the cost (and is the reason why the "Boris bus" doesn't have it)?
You’re forgetting that the A/C takes its power off the driveline, this is what takes fuel consumption up and pushes tractive power down.
 

hst43102

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While I think a lot of @miklcct's points are not very relevant - as Singapore and Hong Kong are totally different to anywhere in the UK except London - I strongly agree with @Bletchleyite that the UK bus industry needs to modernize. Most of all, better connectivity between different routes and other modes of transport. I also think that a lot of the good things about buses in London - waiting times, contactless payments, standardized vehicles - should be implemented on many other large cities / conurbations in the UK - such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol etc...
 

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While I think a lot of @miklcct's points are not very relevant - as Singapore and Hong Kong are totally different to anywhere in the UK except London - I strongly agree with @Bletchleyite that the UK bus industry needs to modernize. Most of all, better connectivity between different routes and other modes of transport. I also think that a lot of the good things about buses in London - waiting times, contactless payments, standardized vehicles - should be implemented on many other large cities / conurbations in the UK - such as Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol etc...

...and also available in smaller towns and rural areas, although some are not really realistic.
 

johntea

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I do find it annoying that with many bus operators you don't have a clue how much a ticket between X and Y costs until you actually board the bus and ask the driver. They often seem to use the excuse that if you're making more than a couple of journeys it is probably cheaper just to buy one of their day tickets rather than individual tickets.

Contactless has made this less of an issue as you don't have to fumble around for an unknown amount of change in your pocket, but it would be useful to be able to purchase a ticket in advance using a smartphone app or similar. As an example, I use Transdev from Harrogate to Starbeck at £2.90 return; they have one of the better mobile apps and I can buy a weekly ticket for £11, but since I began working from home I only use the service once or twice a week so I have to ask the driver for the ticket each time. With the weekly ticket I can just order on the app and have it available on my phone to scan when boarding the bus (I also only just recently discovered since I travel there by rail I can save 90p with a PlusBus ticket anyway!)
 
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Robertj21a

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In Hong Kong, I had to complain a lot because the bus driver on a particularly didn't like to open the boarding door to let me board. In some cases the bus skipped the stop directly, and some cases the bus stopped, but only the alighting door was opened. In all cases there are a lot of passenger at the stop and I signalled clearly to the driver. The route involved is the route which received the highest number of complaints in Hong Kong because of not enough capacity (in peak hours, there can be 10 buses within 40 minutes, i.e. 100% adhereance to the 4-minute headway, but they are all full). Driving is not affordable in that area despite the trip is only 5 km because it involves the most expensive harbour crossing, costing HK$75 for a private car and HK$25 for a motorcycle.

And today, a month after arriving the UK, I had to make my first formal complaint to the bus company because the half-hourly express bus I intended to take, pulled out to overtake another bus at the bus stop at the moment that other bus passed the station slowly (suspecting I wanted to get on but I wanted to take the bus behind) and I raised my arm. That was a 6-minute journey for me, as a result, I had to either take another bus which only goes halfway in my desired direction and walk 25 minutes / pay for another bus on a competing company to my destination, or wait for 30 minutes for another direct bus.


That's true in Hong Kong, double decker buses full of standing passengers are used on motorways. After a serious accident, some councillors suggested the idea of banning standing passengers on motorway bus routes, but it was impractical because 50% more drivers were needed under such circumstances. In fact, 9 out of 10 buses are full of standing passengers on peak hours, and a bus route without standing passengers on the motorway in peak hours is a candidate for headway reduction.

It's a bit of cultural shock here when all the half-hourly express buses travelling between the city centre and surrounding towns run with nearly all seats empty on the express section. For example, the bus I took from Bournemouth to Lymington only had 2 passengers on board (including me) when it entered Wessex Way. Standing was expected for such routes in the final stops before the express section, even in non-peak hours.
It's not really relevant or helpful to compare a bus going to Lymington with the overcrowded buses that get jammed up going through that Hong Kong tunnel!
 

Bletchleyite

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And today, a month after arriving the UK, I had to make my first formal complaint to the bus company because the half-hourly express bus I intended to take, pulled out to overtake another bus at the bus stop at the moment that other bus passed the station slowly (suspecting I wanted to get on but I wanted to take the bus behind) and I raised my arm. That was a 6-minute journey for me, as a result, I had to either take another bus which only goes halfway in my desired direction and walk 25 minutes / pay for another bus on a competing company to my destination, or wait for 30 minutes for another direct bus.

This is certainly an attitude problem that pervades the industry and does increase the stress inherent in using buses at busy stops, particularly for people of reduced mobility who we are quite big on providing for in every aspect...except this one.

The culture needs to be that if you cannot see, for absolute certain, that there is definitely not someone signalling for your bus*, or if you think that there is even the remotest chance that they can't see it to signal for it due to the position of other vehicles, the bus must stop and open the doors for a time period long enough that someone at the stop could identify it and reach it. This is I believe the rule in London now, though I don't know how well followed it is, but far too many drivers seem to think it's a race, and it is not acceptable.

Time should be present in the timetable to provide for this at stops served by more than one route (or those stops separated if at all feasible), and should be waited for if running early (now buses are GPS tracked I find this mostly is done, fortunately).

If another bus is at the stop you almost certainly cannot see that unless the bus has a full rear destination, you can see through the window that it is not full, and it's the same as yours.

Also don't follow behind other buses so close that the destination could be obscured for those at the stop - hang well back so they can see you and you can see them.

* Another bus with the same number already stopped doesn't count - with most buses you can't see from the back that it's not turning short, for example.
 
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