Sunday, 18 January 2009

I love buses

People think it odd, but I absolutely love buses. Going on them, that is. I don't mean that I am some sort of bus-spotter, noting down registration numbers with glee (those people do exist, oh yes).
I know a lot of folk think that getting the bus is a pain, but I have never seen it like that. Even with a pushchair, which I admit can be a struggle on the bus (especially when you have a driver with a dislike of buggies), going on the bus is, I think, enjoyable. You can read, listen to music or just observe the huge variety of people who choose the bus as their mode of transport.
I am always amazed at the strange items people choose to transport by bus. A few months ago I saw a woman seemingly using the bus as a removal van, with the help of some friends. She even had a fold up bed along with her. It made me wonder what the story was behind that. Just today a man on the 43 caused much annoyance by trying to transport two massive standard lamps. I myself caused much consternation when I took a huge homemade chocolate cake into work on the C2 in 2005.
I have never really understood the naysayers when it comes to buses. I have heard people refer to buses as 'pov wagons' (hmm...very PC!) and so on, but people from all walks of life use them, especially in London. They're a pretty levelling experience, and a social one as well. People tend to speak much more to each other on the bus than on the tube or other forms of transport. There's something sociable and communal about them, I think.
I wonder whether any snobbery about buses stems from Thatcher's hideous comment about how if a man (what about women - do they exist too?) finds himself on a bus after the age of 27 (was it 27? if so, why?) then he can consider himself a failure. In other words, we should all be driving round in cars, sealed off and alienated from each other, contributing to poor air quality, climate change and sitting in endless traffic jams - then we've really made it.
What utter nonsense. All hail buses!


  1. Hi Sarah - I am a fellow Green (don't believe we've met yet) and also take the bus a lot. It can be unreliable, overcrowded, slow - and yet I still enjoy the experience. I think a renewal of London's public transport system would do wonders for the city and its population.

    I believe there are four ways we could improve the service in the short-term: more seats for the elderly; more space for buggies and pushchairs; buggies and pushchairs being allowed on through the back doors; a partnership between TfL, the bus companies, and the companies that manufacture baby buggies and pushchairs to make sure buses can fit them and vice versa.

    I'm not sure what it's like north of the river, but where I am there are usually only four seats reserved for elderly people at the front of the bus, and always more than four elderly people! Likewise with buggies: it must be an absolute nightmare to try and get a buggy onto the bus, get it through the standing area at the front, then park it in the buggy area, especially when there is another parent with a buggy already there.

    I have seen a lot of arguments between parents with buggies all trying to fit into that tiny space on the lower deck, and it's quite sad - whatever happened to solidarity?! But it's about time the powers that be helped ease overcrowding and make bus travel easier for everyone.



  2. The upper deck of a bus gives you a whole new perspective on an area you thought you knew well!

    I used to catch the 43 to work back in the 60s and I remember when both ends of Holloway Road were traffic lights.