The Psychology of Regulating the Service

by Jake McMillan

All too often now we are hearing messages on buses and on the London Underground that we are being held here “to regulate the service”. We are told that regulating the service is so that people do not have to wait at train stations and bus stops longer than necessary. This is all sounds logical, but does not take into consideration the psychology of passengers.

None of us like to wait and we don’t want to wait any longer than we have to. However, psychologically we are used to and expect to wait on station platforms and at bus stops. We are not used to having to wait on buses and trains that are deliberately not moving.

Once we have waited for and got onto a mode of transport, we don’t want it stop and wait, we want and demand that it gets to our destination as soon as possible! We would actually rather wait longer at the bus top or on the platform than to have to wait arbitrarily to regulate the service. We already did our waiting at the bus stop, why do we need to more?

I often have to catch a bus to get to a nearby station, Clapham Junction (South London), and usually there is a specific train I am trying to catch. If you’ve had to wait a while at the bus stop for it to arrive and you know it is going to be close as to whether you will make the train, the last thing you want is the bus stopping to regulate the service. You know full well the bus ‘could’ be moving but the bus operator has decided you have to wait. So now I am worrying I am going to miss my train and it won’t be because of traffic or because I left too little time to catch the bus. It will be because of regulating the effing service! This does not sit well and only goes to aggravate passengers.

So please transport regulators out there, remember us passengers will always moan about waiting, but psychologically we are okay with waiting on platforms and at bus stops. Once we are on the transport, we want it to keep moving!


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