I’ve been a convert to travelling by bus ever since I moved to Stokey back in April.
This was partly down to there not being a direct tube to work nearby, and also because moving to east London’s “trendy bit” – hurrrrgh – meant inadvertently subscribing to a lifetime of Death by Rent, wherein an inch of your soul chips away every time you check your bank balance at the beginning of each month.
Happily, using the bus in London saves me a princely £30 on travel; money which can then be flittered away on more worthwhile pursuits – such as ordering three rounds of tequila five minutes before last orders at the bar.
Tequila funds aside, there are lots of reasons why buses are well good. But if you’re thinking of becoming a regular on board, there are a few things you should know.
2. Strategically placing yourself / your bag in the aisle seat to stop anyone sitting there doesn’t work
In fact, I’d say it’s the fastest way to ensure that someone does try to sit there. Because if there’s one thing Londoners love to do, it’s teach other Londoners a swift lesson in rush hour etiquette. Besides, everyone knows the only way to ensure no one sits next to you is to do what the bloke behind me did yesterday, and choose the seat next to a patch of dried vomit. Even then, it’s probably more hassle than it’s worth, because you’ll only have to explain to everyone who tries to sit there why they shouldn’t, and in doing so, alert the entire bus to the fact you’re sitting next to crusty sick. No, good morning to you.
3. By opening the window the minute you get on, you’re basically telling your fellow passengers “Good lord, you lot stink”
Opening the window is always a controversial move for some reason, but especially in winter. I’m always amazed by the top deck’s capacity for sitting in what basically amounts to a morning breath steam room; a place where passengers stare at the fogged glass, forlornly wiping the sweat off the windows with their sleeves as if there’s no other option. Guys, I want to say, this place smells like onions cooked in armpits. Let’s ventilate this badboy. Then I open the window. Five minutes later, the bloke next to me shuts it. No. he wants to reply. We’re fine as we are.
4. You don’t queue to board a bus. You bundle
Apparently, in some parts of the country and very civilised parts of the city (i.e. Fleet Street), people form an orderly queue for a bus. Not so in the wilds of east London, where you’ll be subject to a bus stop free-for-all that no amount of audible tutting can call to order. Ultimately, It doesn’t matter if you got there first, and it doesn’t matter how much you glare. This isn’t the Post Office, mes amie – it’s London’s very own street version of Ryanair. And that’s what elbows are for.
5. Don’t press “Stop” over and over and over again when the sign clearly already says “Bus Stopping”. It’s really annoying
A symptom of the headphoned masses? Perhaps. A perfectly logical thing to happen when you have 70 people in a relatively small space all going about their business? Maybe. An affliction of adults who never really got past the childish lure of a big, shiny red “stop” button? Absolutely.
Obviously this list is in no way complete, so if there’s something else you think newbie bus goers should know, leave it below.
(+10 points for the rhyming sign off, yeaaaah!)
Original bus image by jaggers, www.CGPGrey.com via Flickr
Alex McCormick says
Everyone.. and I do mean everyone… whether they know it or not… loves a good sing-a-long on the night bus back home. If you’re stuck for a good tune I recommend opening the floor with Sweet Caroline. It usually only takes a couple of dedicated singers to get the bus going.
Not everyone will join in (once had a driver but that is very rare), not everyone will openly admit they’re enjoying it, some will shout quite the opposite, but deep down they love it.
People traveling at 4am on a bus moving slightly quicker than walking pace just so they can get another bus (if you’re further than 3 miles from your house, somehow, there’s never a direct bus) are staved of entertainment… They’re fancy smart phone’s battery died about 3hours ago (if they’re lucky) and the windows are so dirty/foggy you have to know your stop by gut feeling alone.
So enjoy the ride, make some new friends (for 20mins at least) and make the most of your inebriated state, for tomorrow the hangover from hell awaits.
Haha – I think I’m one of the people who doesn’t know they love a sing-a-long yet (unless it’s me and my mates leading the charge) – but I can certainly appreciate the fact that nightbuses are a breed unto themselves. Normal rules just do not apply after 12am – I’m amazed how people get up the stairs in the state they’re in sometimes. Ah, buses. Come one, come all.
Michael Hutt says
This post really makes me feel good about my commute on a train, rather than tube or bus in London. It may take me two hours to get to work but the worst thing about it (other than delays and cancellations) is that sometimes it’s a bit hot and sometimes I have to stand up. Look at me looking at my commute with rose-tinted glasses!
Well, there are a zillion reasons I prefer the bus, but these are just the quirks. The only thing I miss about the tube is the relative speed that it gets you places. The bus adds another 20 minutes onto my commute each day, I reckon.
Alex McCormick says
I used to be able to Train it work when I was in Shepards Bush… ahh, those were the days
This is the best post I have read about London like EVER. Absolutely halarious, thanks for making my day!
Thank you, glad you liked it. My mission to inform the masses on matters of London transport etiquette is just beginning.
haha such a short but amazingly accurate post! Couldn’t stop laughing 😀
I like to keep these things simple. It’s the only way people will learn x
A post I wish I had written myself. I live in N16 too, and due to a change of job I will soon have to abandon my beloved 243 for the terrible overground + tube combo…
Argh, my sympathies. I’m a 76 / 243er at the moment, and the alternative is overground + 2 tubes – and I don’t hanker after that journey at all! The bus is slow, but I like it – and hey ho, the bad bits at least it gives me something to write about.
A hardened 38er, I agree wholeheartedly with every point. I would add the need Londoners seem to have to inhabit their own double seat, forcing you and your companion to take up seats on opposite sides of the aisle and whisper in hushed voices, but then again maybe we shouldn’t be talking at all, – it is public transport…
Ha! Greetings, 38er, 76 and 243er here. I don’t mind people talking so much. I mind children screaming / reciting the alphabet, and people on their phones who have no sense of how loud they’re speaking. At least people can’t do that on the tube!
Beth V says
Jojo, we need a second post on the night bus rules, pleez. (specifically the 243, since you’re asking) X
Beth beth, I’m thinking that would be a very good idea. I’ll do some research this weekend 😀