Electric Bus in London

Driven to Distraction – tackling safety on London’s buses

17 July 2017

In 2015 and 2016 - 25 people were killed on, or by, buses.

Over two thirds of those killed were pedestrians.[1]

Nearly 12,000 others were injured on-board or in incidents with buses during this period:

5,700 in 2015 and 6,100 in 2016.[2]

The London Assembly Transport Committee report ‘Driven to Distraction’, published today, examines the reasons for the number of bus incidents in London.  It found that;

  • High levels of stress are reported amongst bus drivers, caused by long shifts, inadequate breaks and irregular shift patterns
  • Fatigued bus drivers may have more incidents than properly rested ones
  • Rest and toilet facilities are poor or non-existent
  • The job involves frequent distractions from the control centre and from passengers

In addition to various driver safety issues, the Committee found that London has a relatively high number of collisions involving buses.[3]

The contracts Transport for London (TfL) has with bus operators incentivise them to meet punctuality targets, but not safety targets.

Key aspects of safety, like driving skills and incident investigations, are often left in the hands of the bus operators.

Figures showing a decline in people killed or seriously injured by buses may be overstated.

The report recommends that TfL:

  • Sets safety targets for bus operators as soon as possible.
  • Revises its senior staff bonus scheme to introduce a direct link between bus safety and performance-related payments.
  • Improves the data it uses for bus safety analysis and trend reporting.
  • Reduces the number of distractions and difficulties facing drivers.
  • Delivers driver safety training, in the same way it delivers customer service training.
  • Reviews bus maintenance practices in garages.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee said;

“The Mayor of London incentivises bus operators to meet punctuality targets, but not to reduce collisions and injuries. It’s an outrage and something the son of a bus driver should recognise and rectify immediately.

Driving on London’s roads requires intense concentration. Especially when manoeuvring a 12 tonne vehicle around pedestrians, buggies, cyclists and more - with up to 87 passengers on board and numerous distractions.

Bus drivers exist in a pressure cooker situation, with competition for road space and a focus on making buses run on time, which has created a stressful and tiring working culture for drivers.

TfL needs to review the way it awards contracts to bus operators and ensure it puts safety as a priority, instead of punctuality.

The report will be launched at Bank Junction, on the corner of Cornhill and Threadneedle Street – at 10.30am on July 17. 



Caroline Pidgeon AM, Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee

Sarah Hope, Bus Safety Campaigner

Joanne Harris, Bus Driver

Sean O’Shea, Metroline Managing Director

Notes to editors

  1. TfL quarterly bus safety publications, based on reporting from bus operators, 2015 and 2016 IRIS data: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/bus-safety-data
  2. TfL quarterly bus safety publications, based on reporting from bus operators, 2015 and 2016 IRIS data: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/bus-safety-data
  3. London does not compare well with other major cities on its record for bus safety. Of the 15 world cities measured by the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG), London was one of only five not to have improved since 2007, and was ranked fifth-worst for safety in 2014.  See International Bus Benchmarking Group, RTSC, Imperial College London, presentation to IIPAG 18th May 2016
  4. The report Driven to Distraction’ is attached.
  5. Watch the VIDEO
  6. Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, Deputy Chair of the Transport Committee, is available for interview – see contact details below.
  7. London Assembly Transport Committee.
  8. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Alison Bell on 020 7983 4228.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.