I prefer my bus to run on time and with a civil driver who is capable of performing their role in a fully comeptent and professional manner.
It is not entirely fair to pick on operators such as MBL and criticise them for runnig late when others manage to keep time. MBL almost alone among Melbourne's operators not only have cross-CBD routes but had them artificiialy joined some years back to create very long routes with little hope of ever running reliably.
Few people would choose to travel between Brighton / Gardenvale and the CBD by bus when trains are available at the same fares; fewer still would ride through the CBD out to Footscray and beyond. The routes criticised meet heavy traffic, many delays at traffic lights and yet are expected to provide a reliable and punctual service for, in the main, relatively short local journeys. Even the 600 group suffers some of the same problems as buses weave their way from St Kilda to Southland
Many other operators are not faced with equivalent problems and find it easier to run to time. The extreme other end of the scale would be Sangold's 509, a single vehicle trundling up and down Hope St every 20 minutes which is almost invariably right on time.
Drivers, driving standards and attitudes vary as widely as our population is diverse. Most who have driven me are a little heavy on the pedals and typically less than warming and welcoming. The same is true of many bus drivers in other countries in which I have travelled. It can be a thankless and often frustrating job, for ever trying to catch up the lost minutes while often elderly passengers board at their own pace, require change, request a timetable or other information, and so on.
And the driver is never seen as "right". Buses might be considered early or late (often the passenger's own watch is at fault here), too hot or cold, some passengers object to the radio being played, others complain that any ride is too bumpy or roughly driven.
Management of the various operators around Melbourne, and management styles and attitudes, also varies. This gives rise to operators whose buses are always well presented, while others are not so. Some have motivated drivers who are often talkative and welcoming while others appear to have a thoroughly demoralised workforce for whom almost anything - including the selling of tickets and keeping time - appears too much trouble.
And given the overall system whereby no bus runs until it is contracted and paid for by Spring Street there is actually very little incentive for any operator to do anything at all. If they received direct farebox income - even a percentage of it - there is then instantly the incentive to make every effort to run presentable vehicles with good quality staff. Failure to do so would then result in direct financial loss. This is not the case under the present regime.
Maintaining time is often outside the operator's control due to prevailing road conditions. That said there are many drivers who make a good effort no matter what to run on time (or regain lost imte); there is an equally large number who don't bother and adopt the attitude of "I come when I arrive" and if delayed will happily continue to run late and calim overtime for it.
The service overall is not structured to run for the benefit of passengers - which it should be - but simply as a Government supplied facility for which the feeling gained at times is that we should be grateful to have it at all. Many rural cities and townships, and country areas, would envy even the poor level of service most of suburban Melbourne is offerred.