“I sat on a Manchester bus for an hour to find out if people here are better than in London”


Being kind and courteous to a bus driver is something that was instilled in me from a very young age.

But it’s not something everyone has been raised on.

Last week, a reporter from sister site MyLondon discovered that fact for himself when he decided to hop on a bus around the city for an hour to see how many people thanked the driver.

In all that hour, they had only one thanks. And they weren’t even 100 percent sure that he was headed for the driver.

There is often a general consensus that people are friendlier up north, so surely Manchester can top London’s miserable results?

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Determined to show that here in the North we do things differently, I hopped on a bus on a Wednesday afternoon to diligently investigate for myself.

Living in Trafford, it made sense to me to do my research from the 86 bus, which runs through the Whalley Range, Hulme and Moss Side before ending in Piccadilly Gardens.

Boarding at Manchester Road, you’ll be pleased to know we beat London’s score before the bus even got under way.

A mom with a baby in a stroller boards just before me and thanks the driver after paying for her ticket.

So far so good.

Last week, MyLondon only witnessed one thanks to a bus driver in the space of an hour; we beat that score the minute we got on board in Manchester.

At the next stop, a man nods pleasantly and ‘cheers’ to the driver as he shows him his pass.

The third stop passes quickly and three out of four people who board thank the driver.

Our positive run ends when we reach Upper Chorlton Road when a woman climbs aboard without saying a word to the driver. Frankly, not only has she let herself down, but she has let us all down.

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It’s a couple of stops later that we have our first outing and I’m very interested to see how things mix up in the courtesy department. Are people nicer when they leave or when they board?

A woman with a cart asks if the driver can help her off the bus, and he politely does so with a big thank you in return.

Tensions rise a bit a few stops later when we reach Chichester Road, outside Loreto College, in Hulme.

Six teenagers get on and are not thanked at all. It’s a bit damning when things started out so well.

The 86 bus travels from Chorlton to Manchester City Center

At the next stop ten more people board and I only hear a fleeting message of thanks.

The bus is starting to get a bit busy now and people have to walk up the stairs due to lack of seats.

It is at this moment that a woman in front of me points to a bag resting on a wheelchair and declares “she is calm now”.

I’m guessing there’s an animal there, but I’m not entirely sure. Either way, I never see any evidence of anything living (or not) in the bag.

I greet her politely and continue with my observations.

At Boundary Lane there is a changing of the guard where one person gets off and another gets on. Unfortunately, no thanks to the driver either.

I definitely feel like people have lost their manners as the bus has gotten a bit busier.

We’ve reached the city now and four people, including my new friend, are getting off at the All Saints Park stop.

She’s upset that she missed her previous stop, but at least whatever’s in her bag is still quiet, right?

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Still, she says thank you, as does everyone else. A 100 percent success rate.

There was definitely a mix of people who did and those who didn’t say thank you.

Outside the Grand Central bar, a woman asks if she can be let off the bus early while we’re standing in traffic.

The driver explains that he can’t because we are right next to a bike lane and doesn’t say anything else.

He gets off at the next stop and says nothing. It is the ultimate revenge.

The stop after, a few people get off. About half of them say thank you, which is pretty reassuring.

At this point the bus starts to feel pretty empty once again as we reach Piccadilly Gardens.

When we get off at Piccadilly Gardens, it’s another 50/50 situation of those who appreciate the driver and those who don’t.

I decide to stay on the bus since, at this point, I am fully immersed in my experiment.

About eight people board as the bus prepares to make its journey back to Chorlton, but I don’t recall hearing a single thank you.

At the next stop, a woman with a very adorable bulldog gets on board. She says thank you to herself and I get more and more melancholy for wanting a dog of my own.

The next stops come with some very occasional arrivals and courtesy messages.

On Oxford Road, a man boards without thanking the driver, but acknowledges how cute the bulldog is.

My noble mode of transportation

Outside the Aquatic Center, four people climb aboard, all showing their pass to the driver without saying a word.

We continue to Boundary Lane, where since then there have been a number of new additions to the bus, all boarding without saying thank you.

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I’m starting to feel a little bad for the driver at this point, as he hasn’t gotten a thank you in a long time. There’s starting to be some bad vibes on board with us.

At Stretford Road, we have our first outing and it’s a double whammy of two people: one of them says thank you.

When the bus stops, I can hear a passenger near me listening to Nelly Furtado’s Maneater, what a bop!

Back at Hulme, we have two people going down and one going up. Unfortunately, no one recognizes the driver.

Outside Colegio Loreto, two get off without saying thank you, including a man in a VERY shiny coat, while a woman gets on and says thank you.

As we continue through the Whalley Range towards Chorlton it’s pretty much the same and there’s still a distinct lack of appreciation on arrival to the driver.

However, when we reach Barlow Moor Road, four get on and everyone says thanks. It’s a breath of fresh air.

At the next stop, a couple gets off and says thank you as they leave. A young man and an old woman get on, but only the woman gives thanks.

When we reach my final destination, I get off the bus along with three other passengers and we all say thank you as we leave.

Overall, in the space of an hour, I counted 36 thanks in total, a huge improvement on what you see in London for the same amount of time.

Bus drivers obviously don’t do their jobs out of thanks or recognition, but they do play an important role in helping people get from A to B, so it seems only fair that we thank them when we can.

But, still, maybe it’s true after all that people are friendlier in the North…


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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