Sunday, 25 September 2011

Travelling on Buses

The regular reader of my ramblings - Mrs Trellis of North Wales - may look at the title of this post and think 'oh no, not another diatribe against Worst Group' (rants passim) As anyone from Edinburgh will point out by looking at the accompanying photograph, this particular posting is about the other bus company in Scotland's glorious capital city - Lothian Buses, the one that actually does care about people who use public transport.

I was on one of Lothian's spanking new buses the other day - what they're calling a Hybrid bus. Apparently it is cleaner, quieter and smoother than other buses,will cut the carbon footprint of the daily commute and is more efficient, more environmentally friendly and quieter. And, I have to say, I was impressed. It's also a talking bus - a recorded announcement is made for each stop along the route (the next stop is...York Place) and there is a small screen that displays how long it will be until certain destinations are reached. As if this wasn't enough, there is also free wi-fi access which, if rolled out to other bus routes such as Edinburgh to Dalkeith, will be a boon on the long journey trying to ignore screaming kids, drunks, loud students and annoying adolescents...

It's another sign of life in the 21st century. As a child growing up in Aberdeen, I was used to some ramshackle old buses as I made my way to school in the early 1970s. People still smoked on buses forty years ago, the only concession (if you'll pardon the pun) was that one had to sit upstairs if one wished to puff on a cigarette. Thus, the roof of the top deck of an Aberdeen bus invariably became brown coloured through years of cigarette smoke. Conductors were slowly disappearing from the scene in the 1970s but there was something reassuring about a man with a peaked cap coming to collect your fare and rummaging in his black satchel for change before handing you your ticket. On occasion he would, rather like today's Hybrid bus, tell you where the next stop was, although bawling 'Come on, get aff' tended to confuse non Scots visitors to the Granite City...

That brilliant singer/songwriter Paul Weller used to sing about 'travelling on buses' on The Jam's classic number That's Entertainment. Well done to Lothian Buses for at least trying to make public transport an enjoyable rather than just a necessary experience for many.

Now, I can't post about public transport without having a pop at First Bus. While Lothian Buses are going the extra mile, First Bus have done the exact opposite in the area I live. They've amended the bus route meaning my bus-using neighbours and I now need to walk half a mile to catch the nearest First Service 86. Alternatively, we can walk a few yards and catch a Lothian Bus which will be clean, on time and reliable. While the Worst Group buses are now running half empty.

As Lothian Buses will tell you with some degree of accuracy - they're streets ahead in Edinburgh...


Adullamite said...

Edinburgh always had superiour buses!
There was an attempt in the 70's to play music to lessen the impact of emptying pubs, but this did not last.
This bus looks good!

miruspeg said...

Very impressive bus AND blog post Mike!
Enjoy riding in style.
Peg xxxxxxx