Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 13/07/07


I'm one of the fourteen or so people remaining who don't drive.

There are reasons for this. When I was about seventeen, and would have liked to have learned, I didn't have the money. Now, although I have the money, I no longer have the inclination. There are enough freaking idiots behind the wheel as it is, without adding one more to their number: one, moreover, with a limited attention span.

On the whole, I'm quite content with this. It's probably cheaper, and certainly more ecologically-minded. But it does leave you at the mercy of the people who run public transport in this country, and my experiences of the last two days have made me wonder ever so slightly whether I'm on the wrong track...or perhaps I should say the wrong route.

Yesterday, I came out of work at 4pm as usual, to await the bus which was due at about 4:09.

At 4:15, I was still waiting. I realised that it wasn't going to turn up.

The next bus was due at 4:22, but followed a slightly different route. This meant walking a couple of hundred yards to the next stop. So, that's what I did.

4:22 came and went. As did 4:25, 4:30 and 4:35, with no sign of a bus of any description.

Finally, at 4:39, it arrived. And, of course, because the two buses before it hadn't put in an appearance, it was standing room only, despite it being a 40-odd seater.

So, I had to stand for it. Well, I had to stand. For about two miles. On a route not known for long straight stretches.

What made it worse still was that it was the occasion of another (mercifully) brief encounter with The Little Cow (see the middle section of this for our previous meeting). I managed to keep pretty much at a distance from her this time, although that didn't stop me wanting to slap her one again. Just on general principles, you understand.

I got home just before 5pm. It had taken me an hour to go four miles.

Today, I finished at 4pm again, and went to wait for the 4:09.

Which again proved conspicuous by its absence.

This time, I didn't bother walking to the next stop once it became obvious that it wasn't going to turn up. I walked a mile into town, through yet more of the pissing rain which has made this summer, in weather terms, just about the worst I can remember.

I saw the 4:30 going by, and I think TLC was on it. There was no way in which I was going to place myself in the way of aggro (and temptation) again.

(I'm told that I'm not the only one she has targeted in that way, which makes me feel slightly better - at least I know it's not anything to do with my own actual or perceived peculiarities which set her off)

I never saw the 4:40, despite the fact that I was walking along the route, so I suspect that didn't run either.

I got to the bus station shortly before the 4:50 arrived. There were, as you can imagine, quite a few people waiting. When it pulled in, it turned out to be a 27-seater, and it was jam-packed before it left. I decided I couldn't face yet another two miles or more of hanging on to a metal pole for dear life, so I let it go. I finally caught the 5pm, which was a few minutes late (I can live with that - the traffic is quite bad at that hour), and - having, you'll recall, left work at 4pm - I got home at 5:30.

After Thursday's débâcle, I sent a snotty e-mail to the bus company (Arriva), asking what the hell they were doing not running buses during peak times. It's one of the largest bus companies in Europe: surely in the case of breakdowns they had vehicles and/or drivers in reserve?

Add to this the fact that the 7:23am bus into work hasn't run for three successive days, and you wonder what's going on with them. As if they cared, of course.

I've no great hopes of a reply. Eighteen months ago, they cut a portion off the route altogether without any warning. My complaints then went unanswered.

So, Arriva, this is for you. It sums up how lousy your service has been this week.

Arriva logo changed to read 'Non-arrival'