Youngsters make travelling by bus unpleasant, bus users tell Stagecoach
TRAVELLING by bus in North Devon is being made more and more unpleasant thanks to the behaviour of young people.
So said Leonard Hill, from Bideford, on Friday when representatives of Stagecoach and local councils invited members of the public to have their say on bus services.
Mr Hill voiced his concerns at the Square, in Barnstaple, when given the opportunity to speak to Stagecoach's operations manager, Richard Scant.
He said the strong language used by youngsters on buses is offensive and that their general behaviour goes "too far".
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"It's not very pleasant," said Mr Hill. "We shouldn't have to tolerate it.
"The graphic language is disgusting. They're like it every time they get on the bus, because they know they can get away with it."
Mr Hill said he understood young people can be boisterous but that often the behaviour he sees on buses goes beyond what should be acceptable.
"I don't want to be labelled a grumpy old man," he said.
"We were all young and high-spirited once, but this is too much.
"I'm not saying all kids are bad but their behaviour, particularly around 3-4pm when they're going home is too much.
"I'm no stranger to colourful language," added retired carpenter Mr Hill.
"I used to work with Irish navvies and they were as rough as you like but when a woman was around they stopped swearing and fighting or whatever they were doing."
But Mr Hill also said it seemed bus companies are powerless to stop such behaviour, a point Mr Scant accepted.
"He's quite right," said Mr Scant. "It does happen.
"But we wouldn't drive anywhere if we stopped the bus every time someone swore.
"If something happens and spills over then the driver pulls over and calls the police but we have to gauge what's acceptable.
"Nowadays swearing probably is acceptable, unfortunately."
Mr Scant said drivers for the company have been told to stay in their cabs, after an incident in another part of the South West when a driver was beaten up and hospitalised after confronting a group who were acting inappropriately.
"There's only so much we can do," he said.
He accepted Mr Hill's suggestion that signs outlining what is deemed acceptable passenger conduct could be given more prominence.
He also said police can travel for free on the buses, but has no idea how often officers take advantage of that.
Mayor of Barnstaple Lesley Brown said she spoke about the issue with young people a few weeks ago at a "political speed dating" event.
"There's a feeling among young people that Barnstaple has all the facilities and they can't get to them," she said.
"Perhaps if Stagecoach can do something for them to help them get around then in return you can get something from them, like promises to behave better on buses."