Someday my Bus will Come

So today I had to make it out to the Wild West which meant just your average multi-modal rural journey: six miles by bike (with a small portion of a popup bookshop in my Brompton’s basket) down to Big A Road, bus to Notso Bigtown, and then a lift onwards. After extensive consultation of the bus timetables, maps and Google Streetview (to check if there was a bus stop where I was planning to catch the bus – I have seriously no idea why I ever thought Google Streetview was a gimmick; I can’t imagine life without it now), I was fairly certain that I could make it in time although, as the next bus wasn’t for an hour, if I missed the first one it would actually end up being quicker just to cycle to Notso Bigtown, even with half a ton of books in the front basket.

on the road

bus stopThere’s an argument (I’ve made it myself from time to time) that more cycling could be the salvation of the rural bus service because the effective radius of a bike means that you can generally get away with taking just one bus instead of two,* and because buses can then take you further more quickly and on much scarier roads than you can comfortably manage on a bike. But then again, once you’re standing at a deserted rural bus stop with no timetable and no shelter and no indication of how you might know if you had missed the bus if you had missed it, then really nothing does seem more unlikely than the arrival of a rural bus.

Which is unfair, because the bus arrived bang on time and I even had time on the way to stop and photograph some sheep (I really will keep on posting photos of sheep here until you tell me that you’ve seen enough…).

reflective sheep

And while it will still never be my preferred mode of transport for any journey where I can feasibly ride a bike, as a writer I probably should try and spend more time on local buses. In London, when I was writing my old blog, I was continually confronted by people and little glimpses of their stories, intriguing enough at times to spark an idea or bring a character to life. This morning as we passed through one of the intervening villages, the bus picked up a cheery middle-aged woman who explained her leather jacket, eyeliner and semi-punk hairdo to the driver as she got on (I am guessing this was not her normal get up): “We all had to dress up as someone from the eighties and this was the nearest I could get to Siousxie and the Banshees. Or Siousxie and the Banshees with a shopping trolley in my case.”

You never get that kind of quality comment from a sheep.

* having to co-ordinate two rural buses turns a not-madly-convenient-but-doable journey into the sort of epic travelogue people write books about – the publishers surely only turned down Dervla Murphy’s ‘Across Galloway by Public Transport’ idea down on the grounds that it was clearly impossible and they couldn’t be responsible for sending someone off on such a fool’s errand.

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7 Responses to Someday my Bus will Come

  1. Aah yes the hours of my life spent waiting on suburban buses. I used to swear Firstbus would drive me to drive, I bought a bike instead, best thing I ever did.

  2. Actually, even as a city-dweller, multi-modal transport is usually a tad more adventurous, and always more time-consuming, than I would wish. But I just love biking(!) and saving carbon

  3. john gibson says:

    There can never be enough photos of sheep.
    John

  4. buckyrides says:

    Did you lock your bike up at the bus stop?

  5. Andy in Germany says:

    “more cycling could be the salvation of the rural bus service because the effective radius of a bike means that you can generally get away with taking just one bus instead of two,”

    I think that’s the idea behind some cycleways in Bogota. I vaguely remember they said that a small bus has something like 15 seats, so every 15 people cycling to the hub means one less minibus and a more frequent service from the hub to the centre.

    Cartainly the rack railway in Stuttgart gets a lot of traffic from cyclists who live some distance from the top and work in Stuttgart.

  6. disgruntled says:

    Well, who knew buses (and sheep) would prove so popular …

    @Buckyrides, I have a Brompton so I just folded it up and took it on the bus with me. Pleasingly the new buses with the dedicated wheelchair space also have a luggage space which is exactly the right size for a folded brompton

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