Why does Luxembourg have such aggressive drivers

Be nice in traffic

Five citizens are waiting for the bus at a bus stop in the capital: two young people, presumably high school students, a woman with her young son and an older man. When asked what they think of local public transport and buses, they explain that they are “pretty inexpensive”, according to one of the students, and “mostly pretty on time,” says the older man, who also manages the Stater's timetables and route network Begins to discuss bus operations. “Timetable” is a keyword for the young woman: She recently asked the driver of a bus waiting at a terminal stop when he was leaving. "Do seet een fir d’éischt mol Moien!" He snapped at her. That was unheard of. Of course she scolded back.

As if a dam had broken, everyone now has to report unpleasant experiences with bus drivers. The young woman is upset about the driving style of the chauffeurs. The older man often has the feeling that in order to annoy boarding passengers, the drivers would just open the front door of the bus. One of the students gave the most spectacular description: When he ran to a bus stop because he saw the bus coming, the driver waved at him with a laugh, pointed his finger at the bus stop and just drove on. “As if he wanted to tell me, your bad luck, that you can't run any faster! I was only ten meters away from the stop and he saw me, I was coming from the front. "

Are the relationships between drivers and passengers so shattered that the former annoy the latter and then get violent? Two weeks ago new data on attacks on personnel in public transport became public. The frequency is decreasing: from 390 attacks in the first eight months of 2011 and 303 last year to 261 between January and August this year. Instead, the severity of the cases is increasing: "From a loud word to action is taken faster and faster," says Mylène Wagner, General Secretary of the Syprolux transport union.

The idea that a passenger who had to get on the front door of a bus instead of more comfortably in the middle would then beat up the chauffeur is most likely going too far. Most incidents still take place at the verbal level. Also in CFL train traffic, where the overwhelming majority of cases are always registered: there were 204 by August. On the other hand, the statistics only contain what the personnel of the transport companies report themselves. Bus drivers from private companies in RGTR overland transport are considered more cautious with their reports than the chauffeurs of the municipal capital city bus service AVL. Perhaps that is why the AVL has almost one and a half times as many incidents at 33 as RGTR, Tice and CFL combined.

But just as little is known about such incidents, there is no nationwide data on the satisfaction of public transport users. Customer satisfaction is only recorded regularly at the CFL for internal purposes and by the Ministry of Sustainability year after year for the RGTR bus service through a TNS-Ilres survey, the results of which are published. An ongoing analysis of the interpersonal between passengers and train and bus staff and how they are influenced is completely lacking. But the legally regulated training and further education of bus drivers also includes customer service lessons and de-escalation training by psychologists. It is clear to the companies that there is potential for conflict in public bus transport, in which most passengers are transported. Although, for example, every bus driver can check tickets according to a state regulation, this is rarely done. “The chauffeur should concentrate primarily on driving and stick to his timetable,” explains the press spokeswoman for the Ministry of Sustainability. At the AVL, according to director Laurent Hansen, "after long discussions about the option of 'controlled entry'" it was decided that controls are not the driver's responsibility. That is why “in principle all doors are always open” at the bus stops. Only the front door of the Tice South Bus Indicator is still opened so that the chauffeur can inspect the tickets. But Tice bus driver Mike Detrang reports: “We don't necessarily do that.” There is not enough time for this and, above all, it could “lead to conflicts”.

Which then suggests that the relationship between chauffeurs and passengers is not all right. According to the latest RGTR survey, only six percent of those questioned considered the friendliness of the drivers to be “bad” to “very bad” and four percent said that they were willing to provide information in overland transport. The AVL, on the other hand, was certified this year by a customer barometer that there is “relatively great dissatisfaction”, according to Director Hansen. 28 percent found the chauffeurs not friendly and courteous enough; 34 percent were dissatisfied with their driving style. With 36 million passengers carried by the capital bus service in 2012, the percentages are significant. A similar picture emerges from the complaints that AVL received - 440 last year and 450 this year: “Above all, the interpersonal side is criticized,” says Hansen, “as well as technical errors. For example, that the automatic door closing started too early. ”It is controlled by light barriers and cannot be influenced by the driver. With the AVL, the light barriers would now be readjusted on all buses equipped with the automatic system.

It is quite possible that this will make passengers happier. But the problem is probably even more complex. Bus drivers complain of growing stress: "The traffic is getting denser and denser, the drivers are becoming more and more aggressive," says Tice driver Detrang. “We don't have as many bus lanes in the south as Luxembourg City. There is only one in Esch; So with the bus you are almost always in the middle of traffic. ”If there were delays, the passengers would“ not necessarily ”understand that.

The passengers are also not necessarily familiar with the rules that apply in the bus service. Things can get quite busy in the south. “In Dudelange, a bus was parked at a railway barrier and a passenger wanted to be let in. When the driver didn't open the door, the man lay down in front of the bus for 30 minutes, ”reports the Tice director of an incident that also made the rounds on Facebook this year. Outside a bus stop, however, no bus driver is allowed to pick up a passenger; this is prohibited by insurance law. Even the then President of Tice and Mayor of Rumelingen, Will Hoffmann, had not been let in by a bus driver when he asked for entry at a red light at the Escher train station: "Hoffmann was really upset, but the driver was right."

It is different at a bus stop like Pariser Platz in the capital: In the direction of the main train station, there is a traffic light directly at the bus stop. Anyone who takes the effort to observe the drivers can see that for some people red light means that the doors no longer open for passengers, although according to the road traffic regulations and insurance regulations, this only has to be the case when the bus is already out for a while the stop has moved out. Chauffeurs who then look straight ahead are not acting in a passenger-friendly manner.

Or can there be all too human reasons for this? Its possible. Perhaps especially if it is a bus from a private company that acts as a subcontractor on city bus routes. What most bus users probably do not know: The working conditions in private passenger transport are very different from those in the public bus companies AVL, Tice and CFL. There the chauffeurs have a 40-hour week and shifts of 7.75 to 8.5 hours. In the private sector it is eleven to 13 hours.

Of course, you have to be friendly to the passengers, wait until the last person has found his seat, if there are still vacancies, and wait for passengers to come, says a bus driver from a private company who prefers not to be named. But if you are out and about from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in a twelve to 16 meter long articulated bus in the increasingly dense traffic, not everyone is always successful. In addition, there is the special "amplitude" in private companies. The driver reports: “Because bus traffic in Luxembourg is concentrated in the capital, you first take an overland tour of the city from his company's bus garage in the morning. Then typically a school transport within the city and maybe a regular service in the AVL replacement. Then there is usually a break first.

And it is these breaks that bother the RGTR drivers: the bus can stand in the Glacis car park or at the Bouillon car park for four to five hours before the next tour is due. “Anyone who lives in the city could go home during that time, but who already lives in the city?” So that the chauffeurs then “hang around”. The fact that the employer does not have to pay up to four hours of such break times is not the worst. “Hanging around gets you down.” In the afternoon there would be an AVL replacement and school bus tours again and in the evening overland traffic, finally in the direction of the company's bus hangar. And not infrequently there is no real weekend: “The legislature assumes 45 hours of recovery time. If you worked until Saturday, which is increasingly the case, and come home at noon, you only have Sunday to relax. Everything starts again on Monday morning. "

It is perhaps the private bus drivers in particular who attach particular importance to being greeted by the boarding passenger. Tice bus driver Karin Schuck wishes that too: “Moien and Merci are becoming increasingly rare in society anyway, but when I go to the bakery, I say hello. Why shouldn't a bus passenger do that, it is the minimum of respect! ”The RGTR chauffeur, on the other hand, explains that a“ Moien ”of the passengers is“ immensely appreciated ”. Because “as a chauffeur you feel more and more like part of the bus”.

Drivers who feel like machines and “hang around” during compulsory breaks are perhaps just like passengers who are dissatisfied with the quality, also an expression of the special traffic situation in this country, where rush hour predominates in rush hour traffic and in the afternoon in school transport. The last survey showed that 92 percent of delays in the RGTR are caused by buses getting stuck in traffic jams or stop and go. But apparently this has not only to do with the strong urban sprawl and the fact that most of the jobs are concentrated in the capital. But also with coordination problems that could be solved more quickly than striving for a “Luxembourg of short distances” one day with an IVL concept.

For example, the Mouvement écologique, which launched a Facebook campaign a few years ago about customer satisfaction in public transport, is still receiving complaints via the social network, even though the campaign has long ended. “Among them are those who are clearly not selfish,” emphasizes Béa-trice Kieffer from the environmental organization. It has been shown that the buses on the RGTR line 255 Septfontaines-Luxemburg have recently come to an additional stop at the new Mamer European School. “In order to get away from there and get into the regular bus lane, the buses have to join the traffic jam through the community. According to our information, this costs after 20 minutes and has led many former users of the line to switch back to their cars. Why don't you let the European students get off at the nearby bus stop that has always existed? "

Another problem concerns the construction site in Luxemburg-Pulvermühle, which leads to regular connection problems between buses and trains in Dommeldingen. "Why have the timetables not been adjusted when you know that this is a long-term construction site?"

Letters from the Mouvement écologique this year to the then transport administrator Claude Wiseler (CSV) remained unanswered. But the minister evidently failed to respond not only to the environmental organization, which had repeatedly criticized him during his tenure, but also to a Christian trade union close to his party, such as the Syprolux. Alex Alegria from Syprolux reports that the ministry has been made aware of problems with the RGTR line 500 Echternach-Ettelbrück. “The buses get stuck in traffic jams during rush hour and people risk missing their connecting train in Ettelbrück. The timetables would have to be corrected, that is a matter for the ministry. ”Unfortunately, however, the information from Syprolux remained“ without an echo ”. As well as the fact that timetable corrections on various Eurobus lines could also help to secure connections and ensure more satisfied bus customers.

So that improvements in bus service and in public passenger transport in general are also a political challenge - and the new minister and former Stater mobility alderman François Bausch from the Greens has the opportunity to prove himself. Incidentally, at the head of the capital city bus service AVL, it is not necessarily the opinion that it is up to the passenger to say hello to the bus driver, but rather the other way round: “The passenger is our customer,” explains AVL Director Hansen, “and the drivers have to understand that the passengers in particular pay for the bus service. "

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