7 Reasons That This Is The Greatest Bus Service Ever
Great news for 7 Reasons readers that are also fans of buses! For the third time in our history, we’re writing a bus-related piece featuring – you guessed it – buses! The reason for this is simple; as reported today, by various news organisations, a brilliant and ground-breaking innovation in the field of public transport has occurred in, of all places Wiltshire (and Hampshire) where residents of Winterslow can now avail themselves of what is effectively a one-way bus service to Andover, on weekdays and weekends. It does go in the other direction too, but the return service departs before the outbound service arrives. Here are seven reasons that this is a brilliant idea.
1. It Utilizes Underused Resources. At night, once buses have stopped running, bus stops stand idle and unpopulated, making them ideal targets for ne’er-do-wells, rapscallions and vandals. Not in Andover though. With the new one-way timetable, bus stops in Andover will be used outside of peak periods, in fact, all through the night, as bus-users from Winterslow use them to shelter from the elements as they wait until the next day to return home from their visits to WH Smith and Poundland. The new timetable brilliantly uses passengers from Winterslow as a free security force to protect Andover’s bus stops from vandalism at night. A free security force. Ingenious.
2. It’s Innovative. It really is. The history of Britain is peppered with examples of blue-sky, outside-of-the-box, joined-up-thinking and ground-breaking innovation and no one can say that this bus timetable isn’t innovative. A bus that only goes one way. It’s revolutionary! Or at least it would be, if it went full-circle and returned from whence it departed. But it doesn’t. It is, however, definitely an innovation. A one-way bus! A bus that takes you somewhere and then abandons you there. Have you ever been on one of those before? No, I don’t suppose you have.
3. It Encourages Further Innovation. Not only is the one-way bus to Andover innovative, it encourages further innovation. Because for great creative and inventive thinking to occur, three things are required: Time, will and an environment conducive to uninterrupted thought. Spending hours on end in a deserted bus stop takes care of the first and the third things and who, faced with waiting until the next day for the bus home (or having had their bus home leave before they’ve arrived) wouldn’t want to invent a time-machine? The bus-users of Winterslow could achieve great things while they’re waiting for their bus. How brilliant of their local authority to create the environment in which the creative talents of the people of Winterslow can bear fruit.
4. It’s Soothing. This public-transport quantum-leap eliminates one of the biggest objections people have to travelling by public transport. Timetable-anxiety: That nagging feeling that haunts people who know they have to finish whatever they’re doing punctually and get to a certain place at a certain time in order to return home. But now the residents of Winterslow won’t have to hurriedly conduct their affairs in Andover. They will experience no more the subliminal torment and creeping trepidation associated with having to rush their business to meet a tight deadline. The people of Winterslow can’t go home. They have been liberated from the tyranny of the timetable. And from housework and nice, warm beds and things.
5. It Elevates Bus Travel From The Realms Of The Mundane. Why do the people of Winterslow take the bus to Andover? I’m sure that’s a question that none of us ever thought we’d be facing but it’s there now, so let’s brainstorm it (very briefly). Okay, are we all agreed that it’s to use the more comprehensive facilities and amenities generally associated with a larger town; shops, banks, post offices and the railway station etc? Good. But those are all rather dull things (except for etc which is redolent of mystery). Now, however, a trip to Andover has been turned into a stopover. It’s not a trip to the bank before returning home, it’s a holiday. The bus-users of Winterslow are now tourists; travellers. They’re the diesel-set. It’s so much more glamorous than a regular bus service.
6. It Saves Money. It saves the local authority money as they only have to run a bus one way (unless the bus depot is in Winterslow. Or Andover) and it saves the passengers money as they’ll only be paying for single tickets (plus they can turn the heating off in their houses for the night and they won’t be using their televisions or hobs and ovens or washing machines). So everyone wins here and, when they’re not working on their time-machine, the bus-users of Winterslow will be able to spend their night in the bus shelter calculating just how much money they’ve saved! How thrilling and uplifting for them. This is the sort of financial whizz-kiddery that could revolutionise the public sector.
7. It’s Traditional. Wiltshire Council are merely the latest innovators in a grand tradition of cutting-edge bus-timetable thinking in the UK. With their one-way bus service, they may even have surpassed the nation’s previous high-water-mark in radical timetable departures: In 1976, it was reported that buses on the Hanley to Bagnall route in Staffordshire regularly sailed past queues of up to thirty people. This was because – in the words of Councillor Arthur Cholerton – if these buses stopped to pick up passengers, it would disrupt the timetable.* I think the one way bus service may well have topped the no-passenger model. I think the people of Wiltshire can feel rightly proud of their council’s accomplishment. And they’ll have a lot of spare time to feel proud in. Wiltshire District Council, we salute you!
Source: The Book of Heroic Failures (1979). Stephen Pile (An excellent read).