With the proposed congestion charge in mind I have decided to check out all the alternatives to me travelling to work by car. Obviously I’m going to fix the results so that cycling wins hands down but today the mode of transport under examination was the omnibus. Here is my log for the day:
Left the house at 6:53 and got to the correct bus stop at 6:59. I chose to arrive at the stop "job interview early" (as opposed to fashionably late) allowing time to stop and re-tie shoe laces, to find the correct bus stop, to allow for the bus being early and for being abducted by aliens etc. I will discount the ridiculous waiting time from the journey time as long as the bus turns up on time. It was coming all the way from Bolton so there was opportunity for it to be delayed somewhere along that 10 mile journey.
Whilst waiting a 98 arrived at 7:02 followed by the 93 at 7:04 and then the X44 Witchway Express (a popular choice) which turned up a minute later. I expect that particular bus provided the quickest way to town but I’m taking a First Bus to Salford City Shopping centre and another one out to the Quays using a £3.70 First Day ticket, which I can use again this evening getting to samba practice. The timetable said 7:08 at Tesco Prestwich and at 7:09 the 95 turned up dead on time by my reckoning – isn’t public transport marvelous?
I fumbled for the appropriate coinage (I had plenty when I left the house) and after what seems like an age I finally retrieve a rogue pound coin from the depths of my pocket. Nobody sniggers at this incident but I feel a complete bus amateur. I take my seat, there are 10 of us on the bus and the adventure begins…..
We go along Bury New Road and down Hilton Lane as I would on my bike (though a bit slower!) then turn right up Sandy Lane through the Butterstyle Lane estate. I expected this, as round-about journeys are all part of the bus experience. Writing on the bus is tricky (I mean my blog and not graffiti), and I don’t think reading would be easy either. I plug the headphones into my mobile phone (something I note that has been invented since my last bus ride) and tune into XFM where Mike McLean amuses me.
After a 4 minute diversion we return to Hilton Lane and I’m feeling a bit sea-sick. Writing is getting harder although my sickness could be partly attributed to a slight hangover (Birthday yesterday) and therefore a lack of breakfast. 7:20 and we hit Littleton road, this is where I should be on my bike about now on a normal day. 7 minutes later and the bus arrives at Salford Shopping City, the 53 bus stop turns out to be the next one along from where I dismounted from the 95. I could walk to the office in the next 30 minutes but this is a bus challenge and so I wait for the appropriate form of transport. A 69 Arriva bus pulls up which I could have taken if I’d bought a £4.30 all service ticket, so I have to let that one pass. The 53 runs 3 times an hour and as I’ve missed the 7:25 then the 7:45 should get me to the office around 8am (which is the target). As I start to read a Metro I picked up off the last bus (another benefit over cycling/car/running) the 53 arrives. It’s 7:34 so is this the 7:25 or the 7:45? 7:38 and the bus sets off just after Hendo gets on the bus. Hendo has recently converted from bus to cycling although still busses on a wednesday because he plays footie straight after work. He assures me the bus is 7 minutes early rather than 13 mins late. The bus crawls along Trafford Road and I get off about 2 minutes walk from the office. I reach my desk at 7:58 making the door to door journey time just under an hour if I’d left the house at the proper time. Not bad at all, quicker han I expected and no hiccups.