I never liked buses. I ride to work, and could think of nothing more nostalgic, transport wise, than rail journeys through the ideal villages of rural India. Then I realised I was too old to ride to work in winter. Then I realised I wasn’t and got some polypropelene gloves. In between, I decided to walk one day to work. I was told it would take 40 minutes. As I was about to cross Hoddle St, a bus marked “Queen St” like millions of others which must have gone by me pulled up and opened its door in front of me with a kind of gravitational pull. I got in, since that was where I was headed and goddamn was it cold. I took a seat (crazy concept). Fifteen minutes later the bus opened its door and deposited me a few metres from the doors of my building, which themselves opened up to welcome me. I could not have got there quicker on the train, I could sit down, and youths’ ipods were not arguing loudly modern music’s baselines’ rhythmic monotony. There was lovely scenery along the way, like St Patrick’s cathedral, and a human sold me a ticket for $2.30. [Thanks to Shadowplay over at Flickr for the wonderful image.]So now, I choose between four ways of getting to work: on the roads, on the bike; on the bike track; on the bus; and by train. From Abbotsford, of course, one could also canoe, and I will do that one day.
When I take the train, I look at the little hand-drawn timetable Miss K made for me because the bastards stopped making those little fold up timetables which represented a basal courtesy on the part of the state towards its subjects. I go to the station at the appointed time and definitely trying to avoid the gaps like the one between 8.26 and 8.43 a.m. and then the train doesn’t come. Connex then announces that the train is “delayed” (never conceding that the fucker might simply be late) and apologises for “any inconvenience”. Sometimes I listen to that with a bunch of miserable salarymen huddling out of the rain, but whipped by the wind, the sun not yet evident, insulted by the padlock preventing ingress to that other once-basal state courtesy, the waiting room, and wonder, bitterly, how a 7 minutes’ delay for a group of salarymen on a cold wet windswept morning locked out of a waiting room could possibly represent anything other than inconvenience. It’s enough to make you feel nostalgic for that particular brand of fascism in which the trains famously ran on time (and, no doubt, human beings with very nice uniforms and leather satchels and other paraphanalia of public service tore little tickets off of their perforated booklets and whistled).
The great thing is that buses to Queen St pour along Hoddle St in a constant stream having converged from far away suburbs. And I’ve realised buses pour along other thoroughfares too. Who will be the public transport map maker and bus correspondent for this blog? The people need you!