Steve Patrick, a Shift Leader at our Fulwell control centre, chats about the role of a controller.
Cool, calm and collected at all times is how one might describe the ideal temperament of a controller.
Ensuring that bus services are correctly regulated, despite the ever-changing traffic conditions, is a controller’s main objective and it demands an unflappable temperament.
“We must ensure that buses run to expected waiting times and are evenly spaced along a route,” said Steve. “When a route is affected by traffic issues, controllers must make sure curtailment is effective or there will be gaps in service.”
An important part of the controller’s job is to support bus drivers and be on hand when they encounter difficulties such as excess congestion, obstacles in the street, road closures, cars parked in bus lanes and traffic delays caused by accidents.
“Bus drivers have to deal with many issues when they are on the road,” said Steve. “Navigating through London a 13-tonne, 10-metre bus is a highly skilled job and controllers are there to provide support. Bus drivers work on their own so it is important for them to know they have assistance if they need it.”
Steve said that a good controller must also be an excellent communicator because it is essential that drivers are aware of any delays. This enables the driver to apologise to waiting customers and briefly explain the problem.
Steve joined RATP Dev London in 2007 as a driver. Three years later, he was promoted to a controller but has maintained his professional bus driving licence because he likes to drive in service periodically.
“This serves as a good reminder of a bus driver’s job and maintains my respect for what they do,” said Steve.