Wednesday, 26 March 2008

About public transport in the UK (1) [Despre transportul în comun în UK]

Assuming that most of those who would ever have anything to do with public transport (or public transportation in American English :-) in Great Britain understand the beautiful English language – I’m now beginning a new series.

I have a lot of good things to say, very few bad ones as well, but mostly neutral pieces of advice that could be gathered under the covers of A traveller’s Manual (here’s a useful Website bearing this name).

A first paradox that foreigners may soon come across is the fact that the whole transport system in the UK is both complex and easily comprehensible.

Complex – because there are so many means of transport, routes, operators, bewildering price differences, or stations/junctions (see how many only in Greater London). Easy – because there are posters, brochures, electronic billboards, and cheap (around £ 1) or free maps everywhere.

Moreover, if you can’t do it yourself online (here, here, here, here, here or here), someone at one of the equally numerous information desks would be pleased to help planning your journey. And even give you at least one A4 print page with routes, schedules, itinerary, and so on. Free of charge!!!

Some may see this as another exaggeration of the Nanny State (some kind of feminine version of Big Brother), but I honestly find it a good example of British civility.

For the first episode, I guess anyone could use some advice about travelling in a double decker bus. First of all, for hopping on only use the front door near the driver, to whom you’ll show your ticket or you’ll pay the money for one.
You’re advised to have exact change, but don’t worry. In the worst case, a fellow passager could help you change a £ 10 or £ 20 bill.
But then you should worry about not being caught on the relatively narrow stairs towards the upper deck when the bus takes a turn. You wouldn’t imagine, but losing one’s balance at well over two meters above the ground is very easy – I’m not kidding at all!!!

The red giant only stops where the driver sees people waiting (and he does see them, ‘cause the likelihood of cars obscuring the area near a bus shelter is more reduced here than in Bucharest) or if passangers signaled their willingness to get off. And they do this by pressing the little red buttons marked “STOP” that are of no use in Romanian buses.

No button pressed, no stop – therefore if you forget to do it, don’t start making a fool of yourselves in front of the CCTV cameras (sometimes up to four in one bus!) by asking explanations from the poor driver.
How do you know where to hop off? Well, this is either announced by a pre-recorded voice message, the name of the next stop is alight on a screen, or you could ask the driver when you get on, and he’ll shout when your destination approaches.

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]


Anonymous said...

vroiam sa scriu si eu desore autobuzele care vin de la/la aeroport (acum ma refer la Luton). Soferul pune bagajele calatorilor pe "statii", in ordinea coborarii. el le pune, el ti le da. chestiunea care am observat-o este ca atunci cand a oprit in statia pe care ai mentionat-o, el se duce imediat si da bagajele tale jos, si apoi pleaca. deci ideal ar fi sa fi si tu sa te mai mosmondesti prin autobuz. nu sta sa astepte, trebuie sa respecte orarul. si sunt foarte stricti.
confortul este cu adevarat in acele autocare (daca zici autobuz, la noi are alt inteles).
daca nu stai foarte bine cu engleza ideal ar fi sa fii atent cand pronunta numele statiei, ca altfel asa cum scrie in postare el pleaca mai departe daca tu nu "semnalezi" ca vrei sa cobori.

Anonymous said...

am uitat sa spun ca biletul luat de la sofer este 14 lire/adult, iar de la casa de bilete 10.