Getting off the bus


altI have to admit, I was rather embarrassed to watch the eight minutes devoted to Britain in the closing ceremony of the Olympic games in Beijing. That said, it could have been much worse…

The red bus that formed the centrepiece of the celebrations was a lot swankier than my experience of catching buses in London. With the exuberance of a bull, Lynsey Hanley was prompted to celebrate the bus in a piece for The Guardian. It is the usual anti-car, anti-Jeremy Clarkson drivel, eulogising the wonder, the humanity and the diversity of the daily bus commute. I don’t know where she lives, but after a year of commuting from Deptford to Russell Square on the 188, I had a glimpse of hell. Read on the bus she suggests…I couldn’t hear myself think.

Perhaps things have changed over the last couple of years. Certainly, the part-privatization of the buses is starting to pay off. The underground should be liberalized as well. The experience is becoming far worse than catching the bus. Hosting the Olympics in 2012 will surely be the breaking point. By then I may well have volunteered myself to life in a padded cell and the promise of two hot meals a day.

Maybe Hanley is right. Maybe everyone loves public transport and will flock like sheep to it upon hearing her wise words. Well if that’s the case, then fine. When I am rich enough to afford the various taxes and charges to drive to work, it will be just the buses, the taxis and me on the road. Or am I not alone?