I was having a really great day yesterday. And then it happened.

And when it happened I knew I had to write a letter.

TfL Customer Relations
Floor 23
Empress State Building
Empress Approach

Wednesday 9th September 2009,

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to lodge a complaint about a Transport for London employee. I was unfortunate enough to meet said employee today as I travelled through Our Great City on your normally exemplary transport network. Let me illustrate the scene for you thusly:

I was in a sprightly mood as I waited for the number 19 bus at Piccadilly Circus Stop B.  I knew full well that the bus would deliver me to the door of an acquaintance with whom I had arranged to meet. What I was not aware of was the physical and emotional trauma that I would suffer before reaching my destination.

I had not been waiting long when the magnificent vehicle turned the corner of Regent Street and began its approach towards where I stood. It was led by a double-length number 38, which pulled into the bus stop effortlessly. The 38 driver, a short man in his early forties, hurriedly left his seat upon arrival and began to adjust the bus’s oversized wing mirror, which had evidently become misplaced.

I saw the 19 come to a standstill behind its dormant brother. It was a good 50 yards from the allocated bus stop. One or two people began to move towards it, as if to board before it had reached the stop. I disapproved of such behaviour, knowing full well that bus drivers had been instructed to open the doors only at official Transport for London bus stops. Through the crowds, it became impossible to see whether the wishes of these early-boarders had been fulfilled, but I presumed that they had been. I continued to wait patiently with several other rule-abiders.

You can imagine my shock at what happened next. As the 38 began its departure, the 19 slowly began to roll forward into the stop. I extended my arm into the street to signal my intention to board and I saw that several others did the same. This detail is significant: the driver’s eyes met mine. She was a middle-aged woman with red hair and though she averted her gaze almost immediately, our connection was unmistakable. She was fully aware of my presence.

Nonetheless, she made no effort to stop. Fixing her eyes firmly forward, she continued onwards with a look of sturdy determination. The crowd surrounding me let out an audible sigh, exchanging looks of shock and dejection. But I was in no mood for dejection.

I shot down the street in a blaze of consumer outrage. Messenger bag at my side, I ran as fast as my size 10 Adidas sneakers would carry me. I was lucky. She was forced to stop at two consecutive sets of traffic lights and I overtook at a sprint. Panting but thankful for the apology that surely awaited me aboard the bus, I arrived at the next stop and turned to see the 19 only seconds away. This time there would be no delay.

Once again I extended my arm, and after dutifully allowing others to board the bus before me, I prepared to make my case.

‘You saw me back there but didn’t stop,’ I said between breaths. She stared past me into the road.

‘You saw me back there but didn’t stop,’ I tried once again.

‘Excuse me?’ she offered, with an immediate indignance that did not bode well for my hopes of a polite resolution.

‘At the last stop. You saw me but you didn’t stop.’

She sensed that she was caught out and sought to silence me with the defence that she had ‘let a lady on at the last stop’.

‘You didn’t stop at the stop,’ I insisted.

‘I was behind the other bus,’ she returned.

‘We were all waiting at the bus stop.’

‘When that happens, I don’t come to you, you come to me, honey.’

Her use of the affectionate term in such impatient and aggressive tones sent chills of condescension through my body.

‘You’re supposed to stop at the stop.’

‘That’s not how it works, and you’re going to have to take your seat now.’

For what felt like hours but was in fact only seconds I weighed up my options. The prospect of a fast journey and an early arrival was certainly tempting, but I knew in my heart that I could not live with such an unjust defeat.

‘You’re going to have to let me off this bus now.’

Her face was one of mingled shock and anger. She opened the front doors and I stepped down onto the pavement. The doors snapped shut instantly and the bus rode away. Though my subsequent wait was in excess of ten minutes, I knew that I had done the right thing.

I could tell you that the bus’s registration number was LJ05BHO and that it left Bond Street Stop G at precisely 12:48pm on Wednesday the 9th of September, but I have no interest in seeing the driver disciplined. Ineptitude is its own punishment.

Instead, I would simply like a letter of response confirming that Transport for London buses are, in any and all circumstances, intended to stop at bus stops only. I intend to frame it and hang it in my living room.

I hope that that is not too much to ask.

Yours truly,

Charlie Lyne