I live and work in London since January 2007 and for the first time in my life I do no longer have a car. Until recently I have been rather happy with public transport in this great city. I use all means of transport, from DLR and tube to boats and buses.
Especially buses can be a good alternative, especially in certain parts of London which are do not have a dense underground network, but they are also a good, fast and cheap way to travel short distances.
Unfortunately buses don’t have a good reputation, especially in the South East and East of London, due to un-civilised behavior of a small minority of young people. But to be honest, so far I have never had any real bad experiences, and actually find it sometimes rather interesting to see that there is some life in the bus 😉
Things have changed since June 1st. Let me explain why. Today was a wonderful sunny day here in London, and as such I was the whole day underway in different areas of London, using public transport to get around. This included several bus rides. But twice, those rides had been interrupted by what seems to have become something common: The Bus stops at a station, turns off the engine and doesn’t continue its travel. The only option was in both cases to get of the bus and wait for the next bus to arrive to continue the journey. Why?
Well, since June 1st it is for every 11 to 15 year old to have a ticket with a photocard in order to be allowed to enjoy free travel on buses. The reason behind this new measure is apparently to be able to keep youngsters who behave bad on buses of the buses by revoking their right of free travel.
Unfortunately the job to enforce this new rule has been pushed towards the bus drivers. Driving a bus in London wasn’t necessarily an easy job until now, and this new rule certainly doesn’t make it any easier. On several occasions I saw rather heated discussions between the bus drivers and young people who wanted to get on the bus without a photocard. Sometimes, the discussion ends with the young guys getting of the bus again, but sometimes they simply ignore the driver an go on and take a seat on teh bus, mainly on the upper deck on the bus.
This leaves the bus driver only one choice. He stops the engine and waits until they either leave the bus again, or “help” arrives.
Unfortunately, in most cases they won’t leave the bus, and as a consequence most of the other people, who don’t have a clue what is happening (there is no communication) simply get off the bus and wait for the next one to arrive.
This clearly can’t be the solution! Taking the bus has become a joke!
Oh yes, and to make the day perfect, at one of the stops on Manchester road a group of teens started throwing stones and other stuff at the bus..sometimes it is a really an interesting experience to live in this great city 😉