Every bus journey in Manchester has the same soundtrack: Bells pinging, tickets churning, doors hissing – and a chorus of ‘thank yous’.
After reaching their stop, many Mancunians happily bid the bus driver farewell, alighting with a casual “ta”, “thanks”, or the age-old classic “cheers, driver”.
For many of us, it’s a reflex. But others look upon the smiling habit with curiosity, or even confusion.
Most public transport workers don’t enjoy such vocal appreciation, which makes bus drivers something of a rare breed.
Train or tram drivers, for example, don’t get that privilege – and they probably never will. It’s difficult to envisage an era in which people queue up to rap their knuckles on the Metrolink driver’s door and bellow ‘THANKS’ through darkened windows before hopping out onto the platform.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason why bus drivers do enjoy a hat-tip from their passengers: You have to physically walk past them to exit, and ignoring the driver would be far more awkward than showing your gratitude. Very British.
Whatever the psychological motive, waving off the bus driver is embedded into our culture and regarded an unwritten social rule. At least for most people.
According to our recent poll, over 97% said they thanked the bus driver – with some claiming they had never failed to exit a bus without shouting their appreciation to the person (who is almost always wearing sunglasses, whatever the weather) behind the wheel.
Only a tiny number of people don’t see the point in showing their gratitude for a paid journey through Mancunia – with around 2% admitting they wouldn’t say “ta” at the end of the trip.
So, whilst a small cadre of commuters remain steadfast in refusing to thank their bus driver, the popular opinion is there’s simply no excuse not to.
Not the din of the engine. Not the chaos of the city centre traffic. Not even being in a foul mood after a truly shit day.
Nope. Nothing justifies slipping out through those sliding doors onto the streets of Manchester without uttering two little words.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons