Londoners, here’s why it’s officially time to be nicer to bus drivers

London is famous for its frostiness – so much so that lots of people feel silly saying ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ to bus drivers in the capital. But it turns out that we should be greeting our dedicated drivers, with a new survey revealing they’re happier when passengers are nicer to them. Who’d have thought?

A pilot survey in Hammersmith found that the wellbeing of bus drivers improved when they interacted more with their passengers. In the test, stickers were placed on some buses telling riders to say hello or thank you to the drivers. In non-stickered buses, just two in ten people greeted the driver, which rose to three in ten in stickered buses.

The research was carried out by the University of Sussex, TfL and research company Neighbourly Lab. In a survey of 77 drivers, a greeting was found to have a positive impact on their day. The research also found more than 80 percent of passengers at one bus stop believed saying hello had a positive impact, though less than a quarter actually did it.

Some bus drivers said passenger interaction made them feel ‘respected’, ‘seen’ and ‘appreciated’.

Dr Gillian Sandstrom, director of the Sussex Centre for Research on Kindness, said the results suggest ‘micro-interactions like these are more well-received, and more meaningful than most of us realise’.

The bus may be £1.75, but a bit of friendliness costs nothing. 

More on micro-interactions here: Are unstaffed supermarkets bad for London’s soul?

Time Out’s brilliant new podcast, ‘Love Thy Neighbourhood’, is out now. Listen to the fourth episode with Paul Chowdhry here.

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