THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Selfish bus passengers causing overcrowding court is told

From the News Letter, February 14, 1929

By Darryl Armitage
Sunday, 14th February 2021, 6:00 am

Much of the trouble experienced by bus conductors with regards to overcrowding was, in the opinion of Sergeant Noel Sweny, due to selfish passengers who had forced their way on to vehicles despite them already being packed, reported the News Letter on this day in 1929.

Sergeant Sweny expressed this view during a hearing at the Belfast Summons Court when a prosecution was taken against the Belfast Corporation for “permitting overcrowding” on one of their buses.

The bus in question was licensed to carry 31 passengers but that when it was stopped it was found to have 37 passengers.

An old school bus was just one of the vintage vehicles on display at the Garvagh Clydesdale and Vintage Vehicle Club Show in September 2014

Sergeant Sweny added that one of the passengers had told him when the bus had been stopped that the overcrowding was not the fault of the conductor as he and several others had jump aboard during a traffic jam.

Sergeant Sweny’s observations drew comment from Mr H Toppin, RM, who remarked that in London that passengers never made any attempts to board a bus when it was full.

A fine of 35s was imposed on the Corporation while the conductor was ordered to pay 15s. Meanwhile, a prosecution that was taken against the Belfast and County Down Railway Company was dismissed thanks to the evidence of the bus conductor.

The company appeared before the court accused of having allowed an extra five passengers to travel on a bus.

But the conductor, after presenting evidence of his actions, explained how he had told the bus driver not make any further stops along the route only to find extra passengers who were asked to get off the bus.