Thursday, February 02, 2006

Rant: Buses

It took me an hour (ONE HOUR) to travel that one mile or so to get from my house to the local hospital.

A dear friend of ours had a stroke (minor one, thank God) and I had to go visit him.

It is no distance at all to drive to the hospital. But taking into consideration the parking charges, carbon emission and the supposed convenience of a particular bus service, I thought, surely the bus is preferred.

Standing for more than half an hour in the freezing weather wasn't any fun. The bus time-table declares the bus frequency as 'every 8 to 11 minutes'. The young man in front of me -- he was waiting when I got there -- had had enough and walked off to the main bus station.

I was rehearsing in my head what I would say to the bus driver. I was not going to pay as I should, legally, have my money back if the service was late.

There was no need for that. When the bus came, it was full. The guy who (jumped queue and) went ahead of me couldn't get to pay and was told to hop in the back. I waved my card and the driver told me the same. We tried very hard to re-organize ourselves on the bus to make sure the doors could close.

Then an older lady got on, with some difficulty.

A young mother and her push-chair was wedged at the door. She was positioned to get off. But that also meant no one else could get past her.

At the next stop I had to get off the bus and helped a couple of push-chairs off. Then I saw that there was another push-chair -- empty -- taking up space in the bus. I was furious. Why didn't the mother fold it up? It could have made all the difference.

Next stop: the bus station. More passengers got off, but, wait for this: even the remaining passengers were told to get off. Another bus was waiting.

I was fuming now. There was another bus right behind this one, empty. We had to get on this one. (The young man who walked off earlier got on this bus here.)

Two stops later we were all safely deposited at the hospital.

That short distance has taken me an hour. Is this that kind of bus service that would encourage people to choose (as against 'use') public transport?

Most of those passengers on that bus did not have choice. They depended on the buses. I had the choice, but chose the bus on account of environmental prinicples.

A journey of not more than ten minutes, or 21 even if you added that maximum of 11 minutes waiting time, should not take an hour.

If only walking or biking does not require crossing a very complicated and major round-about, I would have walked. Even walking would have got me there quicker.

Would I choose the bus again?

Watch this space.

Back to Organic-Ally.


Henno said...

In Oxford there is a pedestrians' association (OxPA) trying to improve things for pedestrians—such as getting across roundabouts that are built with only motor traffic in mind. Planners seem to forget that walkers and cyclists are legitimate traffic too. Is there a similar group in your area? Just a thought.

LSP said...

There is a local environment group that is in close liaison with the council to improve things around here. But there isn't enough political will, I think, for local politicians to be too enthusiastic about these projects. Those who are, are often hampered by lack of funding. We can only hope that with further input from such groups, the environment (including public transport) is not going to be forgotten in the Council's budget. Thanks for the comment.