Posted by: travelrat | September 2, 2018

Public Transport


There is an apocryphal tale about how somebody complained to their local Council about why the public transport in their area was so abysmal.

‘Why’ it was asked ‘are there so few buses?’

‘Because everyone uses their cars’

‘Why do they use their cars?’

‘Because there are so few buses!’

Actually, we don’t do too badly in this area. There’s a bus goes past the end of the street half-hourly on weekdays, which plies between Salisbury and Larkhill Camp. And, being over 60, I have the Bus Pass, which gives me free rides anywhere in England outside peak hours. So, people often marvel at the low mileage on my car.

As far as trains are concerned, I have to admit to a longing for the days when they were dirty and inefficient … but inexpensive. And, when you could just pitch up at the station and buy a ticket, and, if it was a return, come back when you liked, instead of being tied to a specific train.

I have a lot of time for the National Express coach service. I sometimes joke that they usually go where I want to go, but seldom when I want to go. But. I did use them a lot, especially when the over-60s travelled at half price on weekdays. Sadly, the Government withdrew the subsidy which allowed this some years ago … but they could have shelled out a tenner per head for a ‘coach card’, which allows a third off.

Although buses have changed almost beyond recognition in my time, we’re still a bit behind in some respects. I know of nowhere in the country where you can buy tickets at a shop or kiosk or something before boarding the bus. Other places, you can, and just either show your ticket to the driver, or validate it on a machine inside the bus. Indeed, I know of one place where the drivers won’t take cash. But, it’s not Dublin, where, not long ago, I had to pay in coins, inserted into a delightfully Heath Robinson contraption like a fairground push-penny machine.

A couple of years ago, there was a Vintage Bus Cavalcade in Salisbury, and I was exchanging a bit of nostalgia with a friend over some pictures of it.

‘Rear-loading buses, conductors and drivers wearing a cap!’ he said ‘That makes me feel old!!’

‘How do you think I feel?’ I said  ‘I remember a conductor giving me a hard time for paying a two-shilling bus fare with a pound note. That makes me feel really old!!’


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