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Why buses are great!

January 27, 2010

Some of you might have snorted into your coffee while reading this title, but I thought it would be nice to extol public transport for a change. It seems to get a bit of a kicking in general, but we shouldn’t be too hard on it.

So, why do I think buses are great?

  • The obvious environmental benefits of 35 people piling into a bus rather than taking 35 cars out onto the road. In addition, many buses are being upgraded to run on sustainable fuels. Not many individuals can afford to do that.
  • Sometimes, in cities, they’re faster – how many times have you seen cars stuck in traffic as a bus speeds by in its own little lane? You’ve either been in the car cursing bus lanes or in the bus feeling smug that you took the right choice. Either way, you know what I mean.
  • You get to see the people that live in your area, be it countryside or city. Granted that if it’s the countryside the bus probably isn’t that frequent (downsides mentioned below!) so it’s full of pensioners, but in the city you get to see a whole cross section of society.
  • You can look out of the window! You’re not driving and you’re sat higher than in a car, so look around you. You’re probably taking a longer or more roundabout route too, so check out the new parts of town that you’re passing through.

Sure, I’ve had my fair share of not-so-pleasant bus trips too (and seen the fares go up). From horrible little Scousers spitting bits of chewed-up paper down MacDonald’s straws at the back of other passengers’ heads during my student days in Liverpool, to maniacal bendy-bus drivers in London (and the smelly, creepy dude who decides to sit next to you despite the bus being half empty).

And of course they’re not always ideal if you have to be somewhere urgently; they break down, they get caught in traffic (happens to cars too!) or they just don’t turn up (probably the  most frustrating thing for me).

Plus, in the countryside, you’re lucky if there’s one more regularly than every three years. (Oops, I mean hours, but perhaps my mistake means more, so I’m leaving it!) This is probably the most annoying point; make it easier for people to use public transport and they will.

But on the bright side, think of all the tales they’ve given you – a gift for entertaining friends and sustaining small talk. My most memorable incident was when I lived in London, when I used to get the bus to work at about 7.30am.

I trudged to the top deck, which was pretty empty, and went for the back seat. I sat down and as I looked about me I noticed a huge poo on the floor between the back row and the one in front. Who would do that, or who would let something else do it?!

Needless to say, I promptly moved (why, in case someone thought I did it?) and was hugely entertained to see all the new passengers do the same thing, especially as the bus filled up and they spied the empty seats. One poor bloke sat there for a minute before noticing ‘it’, doing a double take and moving to a new seat.

So, like I said: buses are great! They may not be perfect but at the least they might provide a good talking point…

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