Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has warned that the new sound chosen for London’s electric  buses creates dangers for road users and pedestrians as it sounds nothing like a traditional bus (start time after 15 minutes).

Spaceship sound

The sound which is being trailed in January has been described as sounding “like a spaceship”. It is argued that an artificial sound is necessary as electric buses are very quiet and so can potentially cause dangers for blind and partially sighted pedestrians.

Unite were initially consulted last year on some potential sounds for London buses but firmly rejected the one’s suggested as they did not sound like a bus.

Lack of consultation

No further consultation took place and Unite which represents over 20,000 London bus drivers was not aware that the “spaceship” sound would begin to be trialled this month.

Bad choice

Unite lead officer for London buses John Murphy said: “Unite recognises that it is imperative that the new electric buses make a clearly audible sound for safety reasons.

 “However we believe that the sound chosen is potentially dangerous as it sounds nothing like a bus.

 "In a world where people are increasingly distracted when walking, due to the use of electronic devices it is essential that there is a clear and obvious sound of a London bus.

 “If people hear the spaceship sound they won’t think ‘bus’ and could place themselves unintentionally in danger.

 “Unite is also concerned that drivers have not been widely consulted about the new sound and there are potential concerns about whether they will find it distracting or if it will affect their health.

 “Unite urges Transport for London to pause the rollout of the new sound, undertake a wider consultation with all stakeholders and agree a sound like a bus.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

 For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.