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Saying hello to bus drivers increases their happiness

Only a minority of passengers greet a bus driver when boarding  (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)
Only a minority of passengers greet a bus driver when boarding (Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

A survey has suggested passengers who thank bus drivers when they join or disembark have a small beneficial effect on their wellbeing.

In Hammersmith, stickers were placed on several buses as part of a pilot programme to encourage passengers to say hello or thank you to the driver.

Just three out of 10 passengers in sticker-equipped buses greeted the driver, compared with two out of 10 in non-sticker-equipped buses.

According to the survey held by University of Sussex, Transport for London (TfL) and research company Neighbourly Lab, drivers who were asked said a passenger's greeting meant something to them.

Some of these drivers indicated they feel "respected”, "seen" and "appreciated" when they connect with passengers.

One bus driver, Tatiyana, told Neighbourly Lab: “I always try to smile and say welcome to passengers. You don’t always get it back but when you do it’s a two way respect thing.

“I drive on a friendly route so I’m fortunate that lots of my regulars say hello but friends who drive other routes - people don’t even bother looking at them.”

Of passengers 84 per cent thought that drivers benefited by participating in this way. But barely two out of 10 passengers say hello to the driver as they board, and fewer than one in 10 do so as they exit.

Neighbourly Lab will be refining and expanding this initiative across the London bus network to possibly other areas of the UK and beyond. It is hoping to advocate for the power of buses in promoting social connection. To do so it is calling on operators and others in the bus sector to consider implementing and promoting signs across bus networks to encourage engagement.

It asks for passengers to interact with bus drivers whenever possible and suggests drivers engage with passengers to build stronger relationships in communities.

According to Go Ahead London, which runs a fifth of the capital’s buses, bus drivers are on an average starting salary of £26,000 (entry grade) and can earn up to £31,000.