Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Shape Of Buses To Come

This is a curt reminder as to the sensitive relationship which exists between bus driver and passenger.

You can imagine a disgruntled and fed up driver, standing on a bench, late at night after a grueling shift, defacing the bus stop.

Remember the motto a colleague used to espouse - 'a happy bus is an empty bus.'  It is an undercurrent I have felt amongst drivers I have met throughout the industry. The companies try to institute customer care courses, which work to some extent. But at the final analysis, no amount of training is going to stop human nature. Grumpy Bus Driver Syndrome automatically kicks in when an aggressive, rude or violent passenger comes on board.

Maybe the future will hark back to the past. With greater usage of cards and less cash, the driver will be cocooned in a cab, similar to an old London Routemaster double decker driver. There will be no communication with passengers, except by microphone. There will be an ejector mechanism to push off the bus anyone who hasn't inserted the correct card into the machine, or is drunk, or antagonistic. There will be happy, smiling drivers safe in the knowledge that they are in no danger and do not have to strike up some conversation with someone they have no desire to.

Wishful thinking?

Of course. And if you happened to watch the film on ITV last night - Children Of Men, it is more likely, in view of the way the world is going, that bus travel might end up in the same apocalyptic way. Buses struggled along streets which were war zones as a result of the breakdown of society. The only bright spot was that the doors seemed to be permanently open. Brilliant. The bus wouldn't smell like an old bus anymore and it would be easy to evict someone if necessary. A simple stamp on the brakes at the right moment would be enough.

My fantasy was ruined by a voice. I must be near waking up. 'We are near awakening when we dream we are dreaming,' the German Romantic Poet, Novalis once said. This voice was a monotone to be precise. A monotone wearing a crimplene jacket and holding a clipboard: 'I'm very sorry, but you can't do that...not having the doors closed at all times whilst the vehicle is moving is an infringement of regulation 8642HG/2/11...besides your insurance is invalid...'

I will go back to dreamland.

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