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Pierre Lansiquot, London bus driver
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a London bus driver

Danielle Goldstein

…according to Pierre Lansiquot, 31.

Driving a bus is a mental challenge

‘People think driving a bus is easy, but it’s not. There’s so much to think about, plus the brakes can be quite jittery on the old buses – you have to constantly plan ten seconds ahead so that you can try to brake smoothly. If you don’t, you get that judder, and if someone is trying to come down the stairs they might go flying.’

Bus drivers love the new Routemasters (even if you don’t)

‘The new Routemasters are really nice to drive. They’re so smooth it actually feels like you’re driving a car rather than a bus. But they’re also a lot longer than the old double-decker buses, so when we’re taking corners we have to be more vigilant.’

Drivers are allowed to take toilet breaks (though they try not to)

‘As a bus driver, you know not to guzzle down two litres of water before you start a shift. But I know some drivers who’ve been really desperate – we’re all human! – and have had to park up, turn the bus off, and inform the passengers that they’re going to the toilet quickly. As long as the passengers can get on and off the bus when they want, you can go to the toilet whenever you need to.’

If your bus terminates unexpectedly, there’s usually a good reason

‘We have these things called “turns”, because we have a schedule to keep to. If there’s really heavy traffic, and the controller knows we’re not going to keep to the schedule, then they’ll terminate the service and I’ll get the passengers off, so I can get the bus to its next starting point on time. The controllers do a pretty good job of making sure we finish on time and have all our breaks, so we don’t drive tired.’

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