11 September 2009

Abusive bus stop texts

The idea goes that you're stood at a bus stop and in a rush to get to the town/city centre. There is no timetable present (and in any case you're one of the alleged 40% of the population who can't fathom these things out) but want to know how long you'll have to wait. Affixed to the bus stop flag is a unique reference code and a number. You're told to text this code to the number shown and in return you'll seamlessly receive details of the next bus to call and a further three (or up to as many within the next hour in some cases).

Commendable, it really is. However, I can reveal that a substantial percentage of texts, sent to these numbers in many of the areas who operate such schemes, contain abusive messages that, when said out loud, even the producers of Big Brother would have to bleep out.

So annoyed, it would seem, are people becoming while stood at a bus stop offering this text service, that they choose to send four-letter words and tirades of abuse against the local authority and local bus operator. One of the worst areas for these offences is Peterborough.

I have it on very good authority that, following a recent council audit, the number of abusive and threatening texts sent to the bus stop numbers has been identified as over 25% in some cases. That's one-in-four people who text the number choose to abuse the system - literally.

Why are they doing this? Do people feel so aggrieved at the length of time they're having to wait at a bus stop that they feel the need to vent their anger at the very scheme aimed to give them some assurance? Perhaps the service operated therein is so poor - against its advertised timetables - that the texts sent are mere works of fiction? Whatever the reason, there seems to be a growing problem.

Since the responses sent by the text service are automated, no 'human' actually views each message as it's sent, and sending a four-letter word, as opposed to the specific series of letters unique to each stop, will prove fruitless anyway since the system wont know which stop you're at. Some of the top texters are to be found in Poole - I can only ponder on whether such subversive activity is to be found there! (CW)