Thursday, 5 February 2009

One for all

Routemaster bus

The humble omnibus. From the Latin meaning for all or for everyone. Subsequently shortened to bus, it has become the backbone of public transport systems worldwide. In 2007/2008, there were 5.1 billion passenger journies made by bus in the UK according to the Department for Transport's Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2008 edition. By comparison, the national rail system carried a mere 1.2 billion, and London Underground carried just over 1 billion.

Perhaps due to the ubiquitous nature of the bus, it is looked down upon by a large section of the nation. As personal wealth has increased over the past half century, people have become used to owning and using their own motor vehicle. Personal freedom has flourished – but at the same time it seems that community has diminished. People drive around in their own sterile box, an Englishman's castle on wheels. We have become disconnected from our neighbours.

A bus journey can be made for many reasons. The daily commute. A hospital appointment. Shopping in town. A trip to the seaside. The nightbus home. All walks of life can be found. Gossip and giggles. Fascinating sights out of every window. For every bad trip, there are countless uneventful ones. Catching the omnibus is like taking the pulse of the area, discovering the latest trends and reconnecting with the people around us.

And it is for those reasons, and others, that I plan to undertake the slightly bonkers project of travelling from one end of the country to the other by bus.

Image credit: matthewblack on Flickr

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