Friday, July 06, 2012

Announcement 13.

Following the success of the Coach Driver's onboard announcement guide, I now have the pleasure of posting an update with an additional announcement...

The effect of driver announcements in the real world (to be done when stationary) Announcement 13.

Step 1 - Bring your coach to a stop. Apply the parking brake and select neutral. Press the front door and luggage hold open buttons. Take a deep breath.

Step 2 - You must make the following P.A. announcement:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have now arrived at (stop name)

If you are leaving the service here, please make sure you take all your personal belongings with you.

If you have luggage in the hold, please wait to the side of the coach while I unload it.

Thank you for choosing the nationwide company and have a pleasant onward journey."

Step 3 - Switch off the microphone, unfasten your seat belt and leave the driving seat. Walk off the coach and discover that all the passengers have ignored your announcement and helped themselves to the luggage. Press the luggage door close button and be content that although nobody listens to your announcement, the passengers have unloaded the luggage and your operator will not be charged a 5% penalty on the whole diagram because a driver did not make an announcement, word for word, from the guide.

 ...Of course, readers of this blog must be aware that there are 2 nationwide companies operating express coach services around our country. I do not think that the other nationwide company has a Coach Driver onboard announcement guide following yesterday's drama on the M6 Toll Road in Staffordshire...

On the M6 toll road, near Lichfield, Staffordshire, the kind of public alertness that anti-terrorist investigators encourage led to the evacuation of 48 passengers from a coach and the closure of the motorway for seven hours, when a concerned passenger apparently mistook a fake, electronic cigarette that gave off a vapour for a bomb.

In Staffordshire the police defended their response to the alert by a passenger on board a Megabus coach run by Stagecoach, which was on its way from Preston to Victoria station in London. The alarm was raised when a passenger saw an individual, described as of Asian appearance, pouring what they believed was liquid into a bag that was emitting vapours, the police said. The passenger alerted the driver, who called the police around 8.20am.

A full multi-agency response was put into motion, with an army bomb disposal team, a chemical and biological weapons team, armed police, counter-terrorism officers, ambulance and fire crews, called to the scene at Weeford, near Lichfield. Passengers were evacuated one by one from the coach. Drivers caught in the traffic jam as emergency services blocked the road in front of them were told by police to shut their car windows and not to use the air conditioning.

After arriving at Victoria coach station in London on a replacement bus last night, one of the passengers, student Vermilion Von Kangur, said she had feared for her life as armed police swooped around the coach. "Some people thought there was a bomb on the bus, some people thought it was going to explode," the 20-year-old said. "Some people thought the bus had broken down, or that there was a prisoner on board. I was scared."

She said everyone on board was made to leave it one by one at 10-minute intervals with their hands visible, as officers looked on with their guns poised. "My legs were like jelly, I couldn't walk," she said. "I felt very intimidated. I thought if I moved I would get shot."

She said passengers were not given any information about what had happened after the coach pulled over without warning at around 8.30am. She said: "The driver was talking to police but they weren't saying anything to us. People thought they were going to die. They were calling their families.

"People didn't know what was going on so we only had to use our imaginations and picture the worst."

Staffordshire police said they acted after a "genuinely concerned" member of the public mistook the vapour from an electronic cigarette – used by smokers to circumvent the ban on smoking on public transport – for something more sinister.

...So, that is what happens when a driver does not make an announcement and passengers wonder if the Police will shoot them on sight. Very frightening indeed. Look forward to the Olympics everyone as things could get a lot worse!
Yesterday's incident does demonstrate how easy it is to tie up lots of emergency service's resources with the minimum of effort, in this case all it took was one electronic cigarette and a suitably confused passenger.

Any terrorist group or militant organisation must now be wondering if they could cripple the UK with a series of planned minor incidences on public transport across the UK at the same time.

Could potentailly be a major problem and the Police might have to re-think their level of response. I'm glad its not my decision.

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