dMo's blog

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

bus: a puff of sulphurous smoke & a fire-engine-red smear. a gaping door above the rear left wheel. a spiral staircase to the second floor. this ain't a bus -- it's a spaceship. beam me up! i wait till it slows down & hop aboard, stagger up the stairs as it lurches. every acceleration, every deceleration, every stop & turn is a lurch. every pothole an abyss. i cram my knees against the bench in front of me. i pass the conductor a pound for the fare & ask him to tell me when we've reached Angel. he just grins. in my entire year in london, i've yet to meet a surly bus conductor.

flash forward 4 years. there aren't any more buses like that in london. one gets nostalgic. these days there's a bit more space and a lot less fun. there's a tv alternatively piping advertisements and showing the public that they're under surveillance by any one of 7(!) closed circuit cameras. the buses come to a full stop before people get on or off. the whole geometry is off -- the old bus was an iconic, sexy thing. the new one's a box.

they say that the new buses are safer and more accessible by the elderly / disabled. probably true, but misleading. the real reason for the change, is cost. the driver collects the fare. no more conductor. and is it me or is the driver really a surly bastard half the time? and i wonder how much an hour of bus tv adverts costs? oh, and yes -- the fare's now 2 pounds cash -- that's $4 to you (us?) yanks -- inflation of 100% over 5 years. and this is what they call public transportation.