Love on the No. 40


bus

Now that we are plumbing the depths of winter, with daylight a distant, hazy memory, and climate conditions that would chill you to the bone, my trek to work to the industrial wastelands has become virtually intolerable. My work place itself, is in the November of locations – a singularly dank, grey, miserable, depressing, ugly part of town.

The journey has become a relentless obstacle course.

For starters, you never know when or whether the bus is going to arrive. The road which was closed while the tram track was being built, has now reopened. It’s since become a lottery whether or not you’ll end up standing by the side of the road, like a streetwalker, waiting for half an hour. In the dark, biting cold.

In a moment of desperation – after an hour, abandoned by the roadside last week – I wrote an email of complaint to Dublin Bus. Just to remind them that as my bus route is used predominantly by commuters, it is kind of important to us – only for our livelihoods mind – that the service is somewhat reliable. Traffic congestion and accidents notwithstanding, perhaps it might be advisable to redesign the route to facilitate easier passage – perhaps eliminate certain stops, and avoid certain areas, where no-one boards the bus, but which takes an age to navigate through. Common sense ideas from someone who is a loyal customer (although loyalty is easy when the bus company is running a monopoly.)

When I received a stock response email, saying that the delay on the route was as a result of that day’s train strike, and apologising for any inconvenience caused, I saw red. The train strike lasted one day. My bus is late or a no-show, around 50% of the time. I wrote a sternly worded response, to state that I was unhappy with the reply, and were my suggestions for improvement to the service going to be addressed?

I received a phone call. From headquarters, where the nice man told me that: no they wouldn’t be increasing the regularity of the service as the union won’t allow it. Also it was a ‘no’ to eliminating certain stops as the union, and the handful of passengers who use those stops wouldn’t allow it. They would also not be putting a notice on their website to warn commuters that the bus route is effectively broken, as Dublin Bus has no control or influence on how often a timetabled bus will actually appear.

I was less than best pleased. It would almost been better to have been ignored.

So it is with a heavy heart that I stand each day by the bus stop, wondering whether I will make it to work on time that day – despite being an hour early.

Yesterday as I boarded (it was on time for me, as I was getting the 8.30 service; the people who had been waiting for the 8.15 which never arrived, looked less content though)  I was followed by a blonde Polish woman who asked the driver if he would tell her where her stop was.

It was the same stop as my own. I could have simply told her to disembark when I did. But I was feeling surly and uncommunicative, looking forward to the upcoming work route snooze, so I didn’t.

She was chatty and friendly. And quite attractive. The driver was clearly a bit smitten, and started engaging in some mild flirtatious banter with her. He was rather comely himself, if the truth be told.

It turns out that it was her first day at work, and she was nervous about it.

About half way through the journey she approached him again and started chatting. This continued until we reached our stop. I had to clear my throat and ask her to make space for people exiting. I am all for blossoming romance, but not when it causes me delay.

I have a bowl of porridge and a boiled egg to look forward to upon arrival, you know.

Today, the bus was on time again. Today she didn’t bother getting a seat – spending the duration of the journey chatting and laughing with the driver.

Neither seemed too bothered by intercom woman, who announces the stops, and who warns passengers not to speak to or distract the driver, while the bus is in motion.

My suggestion – if they want to take their relationship to the next level – would be to exchange numbers. And fast.

After all he’ll be on a different shift next week.

Or he’ll be driving one of the buses that never appears.

Get his number, girl. While you still have a chance.

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