The passengers of Cardiff are not happy. Complaints about the city’s buses remain at an undesirable level, painting a picture of the public-owned operator as bogged down by pockets of rude and unreliable service.
Figures released to The Cardiffian show the company has failed to drive down the number of complaints it receives. Something has to change.
This need not be a case of forcing drivers into the stereotypical American philosophy of customer care. No one boards the number 13 expecting to find the man behind the wheel beaming and wishing passengers a wonderful day. But consistent levels of basic courtesy, patience and professionalism should not be too much to ask.
Anyone who has worked with the public will know how much of a challenge it can be to maintain a sunny disposition after a long day of inane questions and screaming infants. This, presumably, is why Cardiff Bus already invests time and money in what it describes as extensive customer care training, but it seems their standards are not being enforced.
An even more common problem was service failure, while questionable driving standards attracted the third-highest number of complaints. It seems absurd that people who drive for a living – and in whose hands the city’s passengers put their personal safety – should be cause for concern.
On-board televisions showing 24-hour news are all very well, but surely funds would be better spent on more rigorous training.
Consider the visitor’s point of view. Efforts to boost Cardiff’s tourism trade are ongoing, and transport is a vital part of this. The brief journey from the station to the hotel is a crucial opportunity for the city to make a good first impression.
What will holidaymakers and potential investors think if their first half-hour in Cardiff features a cancelled service, a sullen driver and a white-knuckle ride?
The customer is not always right, and the odd technical hitch will always be inevitable. But if Cardiff is to become city it could be, its flagship transport service must do better.