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In London on red buses, is it ok if you are standing at the front of the bus to say “Can you stop at the next stop please”, instead of pushing yourself through the bus to press the stop button?

The reason I am asking is because at the top near the driver it says not to obstruct or distract him.

Is this “distracting”?

What other ways could I alert the driver or do I need to press the Stop button?

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    I don't understand the reason for this question. Just push the stop button. – MJeffryes Jan 25 at 17:07
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    I too am struggling to understand the reason for this question. On every U.K. bus I’ve ever been on there’s always been a stop button to press close to the front of the bus and at least 4 other buttons strategically placed throughout both levels. It’s far better to push the button than ask the driver - there’s also usually a sign saying not to talk to the driver while the bus is moving. If you can’t reach the button you can ask someone to press it for you – Traveller Jan 25 at 17:12
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    @DumbCoder It's fairly likely the sign that says not to distract the driver also says something like "do not stand forward of this notice". – origimbo Jan 25 at 17:20
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    @AzorAhai I find it confusing because, when I get on a London bus, as soon as I've scanned my Oyster card I move into the interior of the bus, away from the driver. That is important to allow room for anyone behind me to get on the bus, and to avoid distracting the driver or obstructing their view once the bus starts moving. I have never been in a situation in which I could neither reach a stop button nor get another passenger to press it for me. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 26 at 1:19
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    @AzorAhai We don't yell at our drivers in this country, nor do we crowd around the area where they sit and drive. Both are serious safety problems. – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 26 at 3:06
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The stop button is exactly there to ask the driver to stop at the next stop. If you can't get to a button, please politely request someone and they will be happy to press it for you.

Here is some interesting insight that could help you. The following information comes from the Big Red Book, which is the official instructions guide for TFL Bus drivers.

As your bus reaches the stop…

Look and listen out for passengers intending to get off. Ideally they will let you know they wish to get off by ringing the bell but be prepared to stop in case they do not.

If in doubt, stop. If you are sure no one wants to get on or off you can keep going.

So, make it look like you want to get off on this stop and chances are that you will be spotted by the driver even without having pressed the button during such busy rides.

If that doesn't work; Next stop, please doesn't sound like a distraction.

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    On most of the London fleet, the button will also light a "bus stopping" indicator sign visible to the driver, which avoids uncertainty as to whether the driver has heard you. – origimbo Jan 25 at 17:26
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    Asking the driver will not light this light. – Harper Jan 26 at 1:47
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    It's not pressing the stop button that the questioner refers to being possibly a distraction; it's asking the driver to stop that might be a distruction. – md2perpe Jan 27 at 18:11
  • @md2perpe you're right, answer updated accordingly. Thanks! – Hanky Panky Jan 28 at 6:24
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In the meaning of the sign, asking him to make a stop is not a distraction. The sign is referring to irrelevant talk, particularly that requiring thinking: means don't ask for the time, ask his opinion on Brexit, union organize, etc.

Think of it like "Sterile Cockpit" for pilots, or what US NTSB says about focus on the driving task. Asking if the Dreamliner is fun to fly is not appropriate in sterile cockpit, but very correct to ask about a flaps setting that looks funny. Listening to a roiling political show is a distraction, but Siri saying "turn left 500 feet" is on-task.

Calling for a stop is definitely acceptable, as it is on-task and brief.

You can also say "I need Bristol Road".

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    If it's a sterile cockpit, and they have a don't-freaking-talk-to-me persona going, I push the button. If they're having a conversation with someone anyway, I might ask - especially if there's only like 3 people on the bus. If you're the one guy on the bus and you push the button, that's kinda rude IMO. On an empty bus I always say thanks and exit the front. – Mazura Jan 26 at 17:59
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    Saying "next stop please" in a clear voice also works wonders. – Valorum Jan 26 at 20:23
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If you can't easily reach a stop button and can't get somebody else to press one for you, it's perfectly reasonable to verbally ask the driver to stop. Indeed, when I was a child, thirty years ago, it was completely normal to just walk to the front of the bus and say "Next stop, please" rather than pressing the button. That always felt more polite than pressing the button. Today, everyone seems to just press the button.

However, if you have to raise your voice to get this request heard, it's almost certainly inappropriate. Yelling at the driver will certainly distract them from driving and their first thought will be that something is seriously wrong. You shouldn't do that. Worst case is that you'll miss your stop but stops are usually pretty frequent so having to walk back a stop isn't going to be the end of the world.

It would be better to be more prepared. As you get within a couple of stops of where you want to alight, you should be able to manoeuvre yourself within reach of a button. As people get off at the stops before yours, people are moving around the bus anyway, which gives you an opportunity.

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    @AndrewLeach The word "London" appears where in my answer? – David Richerby Jan 27 at 9:37
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    @AndrewLeach I'm pretty sure my answer applies to every bus in the UK. In particular, the first sentence of the question explicitly says that the asker is already at the front of the bus. – David Richerby Jan 27 at 9:41
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    @AndrewLeach: Also note the “…walked to the front…” anecdote is from 30 years ago; I can vouch that getting off at the front door was completely normal in London at that date (as was the rest of what David Richerby describes). – PLL Jan 27 at 11:13
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    @AndrewLeach there is no single type of London bus. On less-used routes that don't go into the centre there are smaller single-decker buses with only one set of doors at the front, and you can stay at the front and verbally request the next stop if you like. – Aaron F Jan 27 at 11:22
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    @AndrewLeach and it’s certainly still helpful to the rest of the U.K.! – Tim Jan 27 at 13:19
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Is this “distracting”?

YES. Heavens, yes! The driver is alerted primarily by the audible chime so as to not distract their eyes.

Though they're likely trained to ignore passengers, there's still an internal push to focus on a person demanding attention.

What other ways could I alert the drive or do I need to press the Stop button?

You can pull the cord if the bus is also equipped with one.

If the bus is very crowded, hollering "Next Stop" well outside the drivers field of vision isn't the worst thing in the world, but still, push the button or pull the cord.

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    Feedback (did not downvote): The statement "You can pull the cord if the bus is also equipped with one." is true (as in the implication itself is valid), but not useful, in the sense that one will struggle to find a London bus that comes with a cord. Happy to be corrected though! – B.Liu Jan 26 at 0:50
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    Also, please don't pull the cord on many old trains, this is normally the emergency stop cord, and not what you want to be pulling at all ;) – djsmiley2k Jan 26 at 12:08
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    @B.Liu Finding a bus with a cord is easy if you know where to look. As well as the LT Museum, although you won't get very far on buses there, there's Route 15H. – Andrew Leach Jan 27 at 9:39
  • @AndrewLeach That is very true indeed. I stand corrected. – B.Liu Jan 27 at 9:40
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The reason I am asking is because at the top near the driver it says not to obstruct or distract him. […] Is this “distracting”?

This is a bit quite funny confusion.

No, it isn’t. A sign asking to not distract a bus driver means you should not try to discuss with a driver a recent football game nor discuss it loudly by phone with your friend while sitting near the driver and not to obstruct means avoid putting your snowboards in a way that reduces driver’s visibility.

A stop (bell) button is actually designed to avoid engaging a (possibly distracting) conversation with a bus driver just to say a bus should stop on the next bus stop.

Drivers expect that signal and it is less distracting than trying to ask a driver politely in a few words.

Please note

Also, remember to ring the stop button (or pull the cord) slightly before approaching the bus stop as the bus driver need some time to respond and slow down a bus safely, if you call the button when a bus is already passing a bus top it might be too late for a safe stop and a driver might skip it (not being happy about your late response.)

P.S.

Probably a bus operating company should update that sign to be more clear and avoid such confusions by adding something likeL “press a stop button when approaching a bus stop you want to exit.”

  • There is no need at all to write an essay on a sign by the stop button. Come on, it's obvious how to use it. Nobody has any difficulty understanding what those buttons are for. The only reason this question exists is to deal with the case where one is on a crowded bus and can't reach one of the buttons. – David Richerby Jan 27 at 16:47
  • Some people for an example with OCD might have difficulties with understanding contradicting signs. There once was an intreating study that showed that written signs affect people reception of the reality, and triggered a discussion in the linguistic world if a surrounding environment forms a vocabulary or the opposite. And according to this interesting study a wording for a sign like “Exit another way” will be less encouraging subconsciously for suicide rather than “No exit” sign. – misanthrope Jan 27 at 17:49

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