Joys of Public Transport

Posted 29/1/2016

In this modern day of cars, many people still use, and rely on public transport, but is it still a public service? It now often depends on what service you use. What is public transport? Usually buses and trains. The problem is these are no longer run as a public necessity but as a profit making business.

I use both. The bus daily for work, the train for recreation on days out etc. I do have a valid, clean driving licence but the cost of running a car today means for me it is not worth it.

It is due to the way my local buses are run that has made me reconsider getting the monthly bus pass that I currently buy and making plans to go back to my own form of transport - walking!

Basically, the way modern buses are run, is it really worth it if walking is an option? In my case, no.

This is why...

Have you ever found yourself heading for the bus stop and watch helplessly as the bus you want suddenly goes past early? It is surprising how often this happens. This is THE most annoying part buses. They are running a service with a timetable. I sometimes wonder if the drivers can read. I mean, I can see no circumstance where a bus should run early. This is my number one gripe. And this happens waaay too often. 

Trying to get to the bus stop, unable to run, putting your arm out, and the driver just looks through you as he drives past anyway, without stopping? Yep, been there too.

Then there is the waiting for a bus that is a no-show, you keep waiting, the next is the same, then the usual "three come at once". I remember (yes I am showing my age here!) bus inspectors? They had the authority and the common sense to sort those buses out, putting passengers onto one bus, sending the others ahead to terminus to put them back on time etc. How I miss that. Now the buses often travel in packs, running together usually one empty because it stays at the back. The worst is usually one or two are often late, still picking up passengers and full. Why do they not use common sense and  put at least one back on time. What a waste.

Timing! I NEVER go for a bus between 9.25am and 10am. Why? Pensioner free passes. The buses heading into town often run early after 9.20am to avoid the morning pensioner pass rush, then you wait ages as the next bus is not only late, it is absolutely packed out with pensioners. They all just HAVE to get that first bus at 9.30am. I have nothing against the free passes but its impossible to get on a bus if you are fare paying at this time unless you are at the start of the route. 

Baggage! Don't have any! I mean it! Want to go shopping in town? Don't buy anything! Have you tried getting on a packed bus with four or five shopping bags? Good luck! Most do not have overhead storage and even the luggage rack at the front have been replaced with another seat!

Overcrowding! This is the one thing that buses and trains DO have in common! And we all hate it! Add in the baggage problem and it is awful trying to get on, and especially off the bus at your stop. People standing, with bags, people sat, with bags, someone at the back, with bags, add in a couple of children! Ohh the joy of getting from the back of the bus to the front to get off, past all those people standing, with bags, sitting, with bags! Noticed how these days, handbags are the size of small cases?

Raised bus stop platforms? I love them. They raise the height of the pavement to allow safer and easier bus exit and entry. The problem is the number of bus drivers who do not stop at it, but just always overshoot. Some stop where there is no kerb, where the ground level is flat with the road.

Now I have a knee injury (part of the reason I have been using a bus for the last two years). Getting off a bus, stepping down to ground level is very, very painful. Most drivers do not even lower the bus even though the bus is capable. (I stopped asking due to the most common rude response from the driver).

Now don't get me wrong. There are some good points to buses. Where I live they are (supposed) to be every 5 minutes and generally they are. They get you to the heart of the town, especially useful on busy days, Christmas, school holidays etc. They are actually not badly priced if you use a weekly ticket, or even more value with a monthly ticket. I noticed a car park allowing all day parking for £2.50 a day, close, but not in the town centre. A monthly bus pass for me is £39.00 and takes me into the very centre and allows unlimited travel. This is the reason I get a bus pass.

So what is changing? Me!

Like I said, I have a knee problem which makes walking painful as well as metatarsal problem in my foot. I also work in a job where I am on my feet, split shifts working early mornings then late afternoons. Each of my jobs are 18-20 minutes walking time away from my home. Some nights it takes me half an hour or longer to get home when the bus I want has gone early and I have to wait for the next one. On other occasions I can be waiting at the bus stop for this "every 5 minutes" bus to find the one I wanted went early, the next is late and I have waited 15 minutes, thus missing my connection or being late to work. Standing in the cold waiting, wondering if the bus is even going to arrive, having been left at the bust stop due to the bus not turning up at all very early on the morning, it has been very frustrating.

So I have decided I am going to go back to walking. My bus pass runs out at the end of February. I may buy one more pass to take me to the end of March, depending on the weather and how my new pain management works out. I have purchased several talking books in preparation. I am going to save some time and money. The amount of time I have stood waiting for a bus to turn up, I could have been home already!

It will be difficult with the pain that I have now in my foot and knee but taking some painkillers hopefully will negate much of it. It will be healthier, cheaper and probably faster in the long run. I used to walk everywhere before the onset of this pain. It looks like it is not going to go away. Also the weather getting better and warmer, mornings are getting lighter, spring is on the way.

Will I stop using the bus altogether? No. I will still need it for two journeys a week and those I will pay as I go. The rest of the time? If I can, I am going to walk. I have a few hundred hours of David Eddings plus Weiss & Hickman Dragonlance books to get through.

Yes, this year is going to be a good year to start walking again.

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