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Weekend public transport

Keith Parkins | 08.11.2007 09:54 | Climate Chaos | London | South Coast

Travelling on public transport at weekends is a nightmare, especially on Sundays. Is it part of a conspiracy to drive people off public transport? A public transport system of which a Third World country would be ashamed.

Whenever possible I try to avoid travelling at weekends, because the transport system is so bad.

Why, for example, do the tube trains run less frequent on weekends?

Since the London Underground system was part-privatised, half the system seems to shut down at weekends for 'essential maintenance', as I have often found to my cost.

Following the party at rampART, which followed the Anarchist Bookfair, I tried to get home. I got to Aldgate or maybe Aldgate East, and found the line I wished to use, or at least in the direction I wished to travel, was closed. I had to go via a roundabout route and with minutes to spare (I did not think I'd make it), I caught the last train home.

During the week, four trains an hour to London. On a Sunday, one an hour, one slow stopping train, stopping at all the stations. And that is before rail works throws a spanner in the works.

Brighton, is the exception to travelling on a Sunday. In the summer a relatively good service, arrive at Gatwick, wait a few minutes, then non-stop direct to Brighton.

Come September, the non-stop Southern train does not run. I have to wait about 20 minutes, then catch a stopping First Great Western cattle truck.

Last weekend, I got as far as Guildford, then it was a bus. There should have been two buses, one fast, non-stop to Gatwick, the other stopping at all the stations. There was only one bus, around the houses, down all the winding country lanes.

I gave up at Redhill, got off the bus and caught a train. Luckily this was a Southern train not a FCC cattle truck, but it was as though it was midweek rush hour, the train was packed, standing room only.

The only compensation on the trip down was the autumn colours reminding me of Alwyn Marriage's lovely poem 'Indian Summer' which I had recently heard her read at the Guildford Book Festival and I did, when I eventually got there, have a nice day in Brighton.

If I thought the journey down was bad, the return trip was an even worse nightmare.

I had wanted to get home early evening, I had even thought of dropping off and visiting friends in Guildford. I finally got home not long before midnight, cold, tired and thoroughly pissed off.

I was given duff information at Brighton. I was told the bus went from Gatwick at 2107 and there was only one bus every two hours. I knew this could not be correct as the train service was hourly, but assuming xx07 past every hour, I caught the 2000 Southern train rather than the 1946 FCC faster cattle truck and settled down to read Brick Lane by Monica Ali which I had picked up in Brighton.

On arrival at Gatwick I found the bus timed for 2040 had just left. There was one at 2107, but it was the slow one. I had just missed the fast one.

I therefore decided to wait at Gatwick for the next fast bus at 2140, as both would arrive at Guildford more or less the same time.

Could it get worse? Yes. And it did.

The bus was a clapped out double decker bus that appeared to have been pressed back into service from a scrap yard. Most unsuitable for driving at high speed down a motorway.

Do the operatives of privatised public transport systems hate their passengers? Would they rather we travelled via our own private means?

Keith Parkins


Display the following 3 comments

  1. Slowcoach. — Ann T Oil baron.
  2. Transport — Co@ch driver
  3. i tried it — clarks son