Posted by: travelrat | November 3, 2019

The Conductor


This week’s ‘Sunday Post’ was inspired, in part, by an elderly friend who posted on social media how angry she was about having to stand on a bus journey, and none of the kids offered her their seat. My friend doesn’t live in Britain, so they may not have the rule we had … (probably still have?) that a child travelled at half-fare, on condition that they gave up their seat if an adult required it.

But, it’s difficult to see who enforces this rule nowadays; back in the day, there was the Conductor, who really belongs on my list of Things that Aren’t There Any More.

This gentleman … or, quite often, lady … was responsible for collecting fares, thus leaving the driver to drive the bus. This, of course, ensured the bus wasn’t delayed by someone counting out the fare in sixpences and shillings if the driver collected the fares. Which he couldn’t do, anyway, on the older buses; the driver sat in isolated splendour in his own cabin. His only contact with the outside world was a sliding window, through which he could, when required, converse with the conductor.

They had conductors until fairly recently in some places, where they operated the rear-loading ‘Routemaster’ double-deckers. Since they’ve been phased out, though, passengers boarding most buses must pass by the driver, who issues tickets and inspects fare-cards and such.

Some companies insisted that, before you could drive a bus, you must serve a certain length of time as a conductor. Sometimes, you even had to do a couple of years as a cleaner before you could be a conductor!

One city, plagued with vandalism and general bad behaviour on late-night buses, had a security guard ride the bus to ensure order. Someone suggested that, to avoid delay at bus stops, he could also collect the fares.

‘What a good idea!’ exclaimed one Councillor ‘We could call him the Conductor!’


  1. First of all, I thought what a chance you missed to paint a slogan on the bus. All that space and no lies on it. Then I thought how right you were to remind us of the days of the conductor, the driver and the well-behaved kids, even if their behaviour was guaranteed by the presence of said conductor. I’ve just returned by bus from a nearby town (I can no longer drive due to my eye problems so have had to sell my car) but luckily, where I live, the driver keeps an eye on the kids and if there is any malarky he’s out of his seat and upstairs to sort them out. One of the benefits of living in a rural area!

  2. The bus is a restored ‘vintage’ one; if it still belonged to the bus company. it would probably carry advertising of one sort or another, Conductors of days gone by made me think of ‘Peggy’ (we never knew her real name, but she bore a striking resemblance to actress Peggy Mount) She ‘ruled’ her bus with a rod of iron … but, like most of her colleagues, we rarely had to ask her to ring the bell; she knew where most of us got off!

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