Buses are big and red. Except when they are other colours.
Buses are full of people who are going to places other than where they first got on the bus, apart from if they just want to keep warm all day and are riding all the way from one end to the other and back, hoping desperately that the bus driver doesn’t notice and decide they are lunatic.
Buses just keep on going.
Buses are great.
I still show off (twice in the last forty eight hours in fact, thrice if you count this typing I am doing now) about the day when I got on enough different buses in one day, on one ticket, that I was only paying 25 pence per journey. It was a bloody great day.
If public transport was better, and we had more localised food networks and sensibly sorted out trains, then we could probably get rid of all those cars and lay soil and turf over at least three quarters of the roads we now have. Our cities would be gorgeous. In extremis.
It’s weird paying an amount of money for a piece of paper than carries you a certain distance. It’s odd paying money to sit down and then be somewhere else. It’s slightly mental to sit in a box with people you don’t know and press a button when you’ve had enough.
But it’s beautiful crazy.
I know that most people think buses are either too expensive or too smelly or too full of people who they don’t like. This is a bad attitude to have to a service that gives you, and those people you don’t like, freedom. Movement is freedom. Getting to the other side of town, or up to the countryside, or to a different country. That’s freedom. Cheap and smelly freedom, but freedom that, on a per person basis, doesn’t hurt as much of the world as buying your own metal box to haul yourself and your stuff around in.
Personally, I prefer bikes these days, for my own proper sense of freedom. Riding through a patch of countryside, with a pair of panniers full of tent and clothes and maybe a snack for later is, frankly, the best feeling I’ve ever had. It’s a bastard load of hard work, but knowing that if I actually get tired or lost enough, I can just pop to the side, build a bed, and sleep until the sun makes me happy again.
Buses don’t quite give you that, but then technically, I’d probably get arrested if I did that exactly as I typed it.
The world works weirdly, but buses are one of those things within them that kind of make sense. A big box comes along, with a place written on the front. You get in the box, and hand over a few chunks of metal. Then you get off at the place on the front, or wherever you needed to be that’s on the way.
Drinking the world.
Illustration by Henry