10 August 2010

Mr & Mrs Average

Boffins at Volvo Technology (of all places) have spent a number of months analysing the behaviour of European bus passengers and have managed to categorise 8 different types, to which the majority conform. They've assigned names, ages and sexes to each to provide a human touch. Behaviours do not necessarily conform to the assigned age or sex; they are universal for that type of person, regardless of age etc.

The vehicle referred to in the data below is an articulated bus with three doors, through which any can be used to board.
  1. Harry, 83 - owns a free travel pass and uses pass to get to shops. Infrequent user and hates noisy teenagers. Boards through middle doors and leaves walking frame in buggy zone. Sits in seat immediately in front of middle doors.

  2. Jacob, 44 - infrequent bus user who owns a car. Boards through front door. Or a frequent user with season ticket and will board through rear door. In both cases, the first vacant seat spotted will be taken, but prefer to be by window and will move if able to later.

  3. Emma, 15 & Juliet, 16 - use bus to/from school and are boisterous and loud, using their mobile phones and will listen to music. The will 'push aboard' through the rear doors and sit at the back.

  4. Soraya, 24 - infrequent bus user with two small children. Boards through middle door for easy access to buggy zone. She will sit in one of the adjacent fold-up seats to enable her to face the child in the buggy and may not board full buses as they won't afford her enough personal space.

  5. Carl, 21 - student who uses the bus to travel to/from uni. He sees it as his 'my time'. Won't work on studies while travelling, preferring to relax or listen to music. He will board through front doors and sit towards the rear. He'll exit through middle doors and his journeys are likely to be reasonably lengthy.

  6. Roland, 83 & Elisabeth, 78 - married couple with free passes will board through middle doors and 'register their passes with some difficulty'. They'll sit together but as close to a door as possible. Roland suffers from arthritis and makes extensive use of the handrails when boarding/alighting.

  7. Hannah, 27 - pregnant. Uses front door to establish eye contact with the driver. Makes very short (2 or 3 stops) journeys and prefers to stand, making use of the handrails.

  8. Ceceilia, 41 - health freak who'll cycle or walk over catching the bus. Boards through front door as she did as a child and us unsure of bus etiquette and ticketing system. 'She exits by squeezing past her fellow passengers, swearing that she'll never use the bus again...'
I'll be honest, neither m'colleague nor I can identify ourselves anywhere within the above eight characteristics. Some scenarios seem pretty obvious to us; some less so.

The one-size-fits-all approach to this, i.e. covering European bus passengers as a whole, may be the problem. Even the bus used in the scenarios is one ill-fated within the UK bus industry (specifically London). Perhaps it shows more about out brothers' and sisters' outlook on BRT across the Channel than it does out own, the fact they're willing to embrace multi-entrance/exit bendy buses?

You, of course, may identify yourself immediately with any one of the above, though we feel it would be easier to do if the dynamic was altered from an articulated single-decker to the UK's staple diet of either a single- or double-decker. Research was published last year that identified the seated location chosen within a double-decker showing a person's likely characteristics. That seemed a little more comprehensible and accurate to us.

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