Thursday, 19 June 2008

On the Buses

As Tracy suggested in her comment to yesterday's post, public transport plays an important role in British tradition. Unfortunately we're not talking about what passes today for transport, but what they had in those ever-elusive "good old days", and we're going back before my time, since all my life I've found public transport to be a total nightmare.

Not being an anorak, I can't really do the subject justice, but I'll have a go at talking about a very special type of British Bus. The Routemaster:

You will recognise this from a picture in yesterday's post, if you weren't too busy staring at the eye-candy.

This particular model of double decker was built in the 50s and 60s for London Transport. Buses in London were (are?) red, hence the colour, and their popularity makes them the archetypal London Bus, even though there have been plenty of others over the years.

When I was a student in South Manchester in the late 80s, the Didsbury - Town Centre route used Routemasters for some reason. They were still painted London Transport red, and they were the best.

The reason is that they had a conductor. The driver sat in his cabin completely shut off from the passengers, and a conductor took the fares. This meant that the bus only had to stop long enough for people to hop on and off. There was no waiting around for people to find the exact change. It made them safer at night, too.

They were nice and warm in the winter - their heaters were a lot more effective than in modern buses, for some reason. They were too warm in the summer, though...

Nowadays buses look more like this one, which is in Stagecoach colours. Stagecoach is the Microsoft of the bus world:

I'm sure these buses are much safer, wheelchair friendly, etc, but sometimes progress seems to have no soul.

I'll leave you with the following. Contrary to the commentary this kind of event isn't very common, and people amazingly are rarely hurt. We'll prove this when Tracy comes for her tour by putting her in the front seat at the top.


Tracy said...


Tracy said...

Yes, well, while I'm flattered that you will save the front seat on the top for me, I think I'd like mine a little closer to the back, thank you.

Like you, I think I prefer the old fashioned red. The other one just looks too... modern?

Bee said...

I used to love public transportation. For years and years I took it instead of having to buy a car.
The people watching was awesome since I'd get stuck with all kinds of loony tunes.
The downside was the creepy men.

Now it's rare that I take a bus or train anywhere since Andy hates not being in control. He'd rather swear at the traffic and people if we're going to downtown Chicago.

Dan said...

I hate public transportation, that old buss looks like it smells like dog ass or fart.

Brian o Vretanos said...


You get a good view from the top, since you've got no driver in front of you.


Buses are great in a city, but elsewhere they never run often enough or go where you want. Trains are overcrowded. The people who run these things seem to be friendlier these days - when everything used to be state run they were usually seriously miserable and had no idea about customer service.


They used to keep them clean. On YouTube I saw a video of a guy in Illinois who's got one (it cost tens of thousands to ship it over), so you might get the chance to have a ride some time...

Jean Knee said...

we don't have any public transportation here. :(
the picture below the last bus is just white, that's all just white.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:


It should be a You Tube thing. It works for me - does the link below work?

bus video

Brian o Vretanos said...

While I'm at it, here's a funnier one:

bus driver vacancies

Jean Knee said...

okay, now they worked .

the height of our bridges is marked, but I'm sure plenty of dummies have done that with trucks etc.