Monday, 12 November 2012

The Number 433 Route (Not)

(There is a Kent Route that goes from New Ash Green to Bluewater that seems to have this number?)

Whew – this thinking of ‘fillers’ for non-routes, but still making them vaguely relevant is HARD WORK. Thanks to Jo who gave me a pointer to Diamond Geezer’s link to the gallery of the man who is photographing people at bus stops, which has a charm of its own, and led me to think about bus stops, and then the Hollies’ song  'Bus Stop'

I seemed to spend so much time waiting for buses on the way home from school in the Sixties, that I used to fantasize that I would meet the love of my life at the bus stop, otherwise what was the point?. By the time the Hollies had the same idea I was no longer a daily bus user and when I returned to London I had met the love of my life (aah everybody) so bus stops became a countdown on the daily commutes between work and home. Work involved travelling round London’s estates and being stranded not knowing when the next one might come along. I have been known to kick the concrete as I stand there (should have walked) knowing I was going to be late for my date.

Waiting continued as I did the rounds of pre-school entertainments for toddlers – 1 o’clock clubs/ play parks/museums. You have 1 minute to fold your buggy and get two children aboard and in those days they were expected to stand or sit on your lap, if the bus was crowded. Cold weather, long waits and just toilet-trained children are not a good mix.

Then they started using buses on their own and claim certain stops as ‘My Bus Stop’ on the 63 Route even now. 

But look at us now – many more bus shelters, timetables on all bus stops, maps of the locality with important local features noted, and seats. Even better was the advent of the countdown – I know they have their moments and buses do occasionally disappear off the radar, but at least you could make an informed decision about whether to wait, take an alternative route or walk.

Every bus stop has its unique number and from last year you could text this to TFL and they would send you the times the next routes would be arriving; it costs but worth it if you have a deadline to meet. I cannot think how many bus stops there are in London and how much work this was to set up. Thanks TFL.

Now those with Smartphones can use a range of Apps to access the same bus arrival information ‘for free’ (or as part of their monthly contract – nothing is really free) so we are almost overwhelmed with information.

But still a bus stop is a bus stop – the would-be passengers chew / sit / fiddle / wait / lounge / eat (boy do they eat) / chat / scold or praise their children / fight from time to time.  For the elderly they are a social occasion as it gives you an excuse to start a conversation asking the question, ‘Have you been here long?’ The queues have become shapeless but largely good tempered, so you can see why they might appeal to a photographer.

I will just add a collage of bus stops, as I cannot compete with his more artistic efforts.     


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  2. One was created in 2015!