today i paid £3.80 for the privilege of travelling, on public transport, from Kirkcaldy to Glenrothes.
is it a privilege?
sure, taking the bus is a ‘cheap and convenient’ way to travel. this bus has a funky colourful interior and leather seats, with seatbelts – which noone seems to use. the floor is littered with rubbish – discarded tissues, used tickets (despite there being a receptacle for such crap!), empty cans and plastic juice bottles that roll around the floor, irritatingly, with each tilt and turn the bus makes as it meanders along its designated route – picking up disparate individuals as part of the course. myself included.
is that a privilege?
in many countries, cheap and reliable public transport services are pipedreams. to me, by my definition, privilege is something more: something regarded as a special honour.
while i can appreciate the overheads and other costs implicated in the provision of such a service to a thankless public, i consider my own ideals. but it is all projection, conjecture.
the bus service, provided by Stagecoach, in Fife is, relatively, affordable and offers a host of services: OAPs can travel for free, and those with disabilities and those on low incomes can travel at a heavily discounted price. its geographical spread is far-reaching – locally and nationally – providing an infrastructure to Scottish airports and Fife hospitals, all major cities in the UK, remote villages and, on a macro level, each precinct within each of Fife’s townships.
is it reliable?
arrivals and departures to and from major cities are served on a regular basis; timetabled express buses from one town to the next – weather and driver nonchalance can put play to their overall reliability, however. the old adage of “waiting an hour for a bus and then three arrive at once”, in my experience, was borne of fact. sadly, i have witnessed this on so many occasions that i have lost count, and lost time i will never glean back.
is it comfortable?
travelling by bus can be a dirty experience. i have encountered dog shit on seats; passenger piss and vomit in the aisles; seats sodden and sticky with undetermined substances; litter strewn underfoot like a landfill; smelly and rude passengers; rude, racist, ageist, sexist drivers; and i have had to travel from one town to my destination unseated, as the bus was overly full.
and so, i ask… is it a privilege?
today, the bus aisle is strewn with litter and other passengers’ filth; the windows are dirty – i can barely see outside; and the nauseating mix of exhaust fumes and stale urine is making me feel quite ill.
today, i paid £3.80 to travel from Kirkcaldy to Glenrothes (a 10 minute journey by car). a journey that takes approximately 35 minutes in a supposed ‘express’ service.
am i asking too much?
am i a public transport phobe, or snob?
should i be grateful?
as i fully depend on public transport, and use it almost daily, i have little choice.
but i will let you – the jury – decide.
on the flipside, i have access to a wonderful public arena – one of the best – for people-watching. i have encountered a diversity of beings – human and otherwise. i have witnessed both endearing and shocking behaviour in equal measures. life is never dull, on public transport.
i have encountered as many considerate and helpful drivers as i have complete assholes, whom i have confronted in a spate of ‘bus rage’ and suggested that perhaps being a public servant was the wrong choice in this junction of their career…
i have alighted buses with both glowing heart and a broken one on many an occasion.
so i will ask one last time: is it a privilege?
answers on a SAE please… or leave a comment.
(c) Kat McDonald 2015