sluggishness, and the education of public transport

Eech. Feeling incredibly sluggish today. Was hoping to be bright, energised and constructive. Uh huh. I have done some things I wanted to but in a very limited way. I had a massage this afternoon. I am just as crunchy, apparently, but have a little bit more movement. Well what with doing exercises 6 times a day I would hope there would be something!

I am planning to pop into town tomorrow morning to get some things sorted. If I catch the earliest bus after Rest Stop 1 I should have a good sized window. At least now there is another bus company running from the top of our road, three times an hour. Previously there was only one. That one is still running, so in fact there are now four. As long as you get a return journey with the same bus company, it’s fine.

I really think in order to convince people to use public transport it’s not about making car travel more difficult but making public transport a more viable alternative – no, a better alternative. There are some cities where this is the case. It is easier to go by bus than by car. The rates are good. You can get cheap citywide travel cards. Until the public transport systems become reliable, affordable and preferable it’s no good railing at people not to use their cars. We choose the easiest way. We choose the way we know will get us there. It is how people see the world of transport, in practice – whatever their theoretical – probably more environmentally friendly – opinion is.

Not having the option of going by car, I go by bus. It certainly keeps you from getting ‘inside my bubble’ syndrome. The other week I was waiting at the bus stop. There was another man who asked me when the bus was coming. Then he explained he was visiting his mother. Then he proceeded to call his mother. Every now and then, he would spit in the hedge. A little old lady came and stood beside me. Another little old lady in a green coat hailed her from a distance.
‘Always digging up the bloody roads, ain’t they?’ she said to me, motioning to the roadworks opposite, while I smiled and nodded at her. She then carried on to tell us how lovely the roads were in Canada. And that she was surprised that this bus stop was still operational. I felt silently grateful that it was. She continued in this vein, punctuated by the occasional ‘pssft!’ of the bloke spitting in the bushes.

Trains too, can be educational. I once unintentionally went to Brighton on Gay Pride weekend. A lad with pink hair called Tim befriended me at Westbury and insisted we sat together. He then showed me his purple feather boa and fish net stockings with great enthusiasm. His stilettos were too deep in his bag. He offered to get me a job working with Orange, if I wanted one. A guy from the Welsh valleys sat opposite (we were at a table). It was obvious he had never seen anyone like Tim before in his life. He wore a moody expression, didn’t say much, and looked frankly baffled as Tim engaged him in conversation throughout the journey. There was a middle aged lady sitting across the aisle wearing so much jewellery she clanked and clattered as she moved. She, too, became very enthused in the conversation. I sat there for most of the journey simply watching the dynamics with some amusement.

You see, if I had gone in a car there is so much I would have missed. Some say it’s not worth the hassle of taking public transport. I say the hassle is worth it. Who can beat the sense of camaraderie when the train is late?
Who do we have to say ‘typical!’ to and roll our eyes?

Perhaps, like Flora in Cold Comfort Farm, I am gathering ‘experience’ and will put it all in a novel one day. Whether I’m cut out to be a novelist, I really don’t know.

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4 thoughts on “sluggishness, and the education of public transport

  1. You have such interesting encounters on your trains! Where we live, the people who take the Metro (our subway system) into D.C. just don’t talk to each other. Even the tourists just talk among themselves. It’s probably the way the cars are set up – you don’t face anyone. During rush hour, in particular, all the government workers just read the newspaper or stare into space. I would love to sit next to a chatty cross-dresser – LOL!

  2. I have to admit these scenarios don’t happen that often – and certainly on something like the London Underground would be even less likely! Still if I’m trying to get somewhere and have to change trains the likelihood increases. My most recent was sitting waiting for a train when Gordon Brown walked past with a whole contingent of suited companions. That was just before he became Prime Minister. I forgot about that when I wrote this entry. Sorry, Gordon (!)

  3. Gordon Brown! I suppose, in that case, it would be rather like me seeing Hillary Clinton or John McCain walking by as I sat in Union Station (the big train, not Metro, station in DC). Of course, they’d never take a train or a subway anywhere. They’d be in a limo going to the airport. [*rolls eyes*]

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