First Put The “Bus” Into “Abuse.”
The recent fare hike (another one) is making cycling look like a viable alternative: ten all-day tickets would pay for a wee second-hand two-wheeler, although they have pre-empted this loss in custom by making the buses and bicycles use the same lanes of the road – if you’re on a bike within the vicinity of one of First Glasgow’s buses you’re taking your life in your hands.
Despite this increase in fares, and with no significant improvements after the last hike – their fleet is still filthy on the outside, smelly and rubbish-strewn on the inside, with ill-mannered and impatient drivers who succeed in hitting every pothole available to them as they create others – they have instead invested money in providing wi-fi on one route, for no feasible reason, and also despatched one of their staff to hand out bunches of roses to unsuspecting passengers in the week prior to Valentine’s Day. Hardly fucking relevant.
I am reminded, too, of a piece I wrote for my stand-up set: “First Glasgow’s timetable is the greatest work of fiction in existence – no matter how many times you read it, you still have no idea what’s going to happen next.”
Today, I boarded the 118 service into Glasgow city centre. I fired in my £1.80, and (without a word from the driver) was issued a ticket marked £1.85 – I don’t know how they are making people aware of the change in price, but it’s certainly not through the effective and centuries-old method of verbal communication. The ticket destination was printed as Renfield Street/Hope Street – two one-way streets in the centre of the city that sit parallel to each other, with traffic flowing in opposite directions – and there was nothing untoward about it. The only slight discrepancy, and it is one I feel is worth noting here, arose in Renfrew Street, outside the RSAMD (as it will forever be known to me – none of this Arsey Ess [RCS] rename shite). Specifically, the driver pulled into the stop and switched the engine off.
“Is this the last stop?” I asked, his communication being as ineffective as before. He had parked without saying a word.
So, there you have it – First Glasgow sold me a non-transferable ticket for a journey that was longer than the one their bus actually made. I don’t mind walking (I prefer it infinitely to paying to be on their dreadful buses), but I was running to a tight schedule and so it was something of an inconvenience. Maybe the fact I had to walk past the next three or four stops is why the driver didn’t pursue me for the extra five pence, although, as I understand their five-stop fare has risen to £1.15, this seems like a disproportionate and inadequate discount on my ticket price.
Given the appalling level of service, it’s a real shame that First have the monopoly on travel in this area via First Glasgow and First Scotrail, and you can read a dedicated Twitter feed about the latter’s repeated incompetence here. For those of us sick of the steep cost of being shoogled on their filthmachines, it’s making cycling alongside the buses seem a risk worth taking.