"I have been commuting to work by bus for the last five and a half years. Depending on who I say that to I either receive looks of astonishment that suggest I should have been awarded some sort of medal, or comments about how buses are always late, smell strange and are full of weirdos. I try not to take the latter personally.
My route is on the number 16, from Canterbury bus station to the Saga offices in Sandgate, and back again. I make this journey five times a week, and it takes about an hour each way. I could take the train or get myself a car, but I choose not to. Despite moments of frustration my overall experience of bus travel has been hugely positive.
Getting off a couple of stops early and walking the rest of the way really does help with exercise, as clichéd as it sounds. There is no need to get stressed about finding, or paying for, a parking space. Time on the bus can be spent doing other things; I have been learning Dutch on a language app, (the number 16 buses have free wifi), and have rediscovered my love of reading. You get to see the good side of human nature, with complete strangers jumping up to help manoeuvre pushchairs or pick up fallen walking sticks. Bus travel is good for the planet, with significantly fewer carbon emissions per bus journey compared to the same journey made by a car occupied by a single person*. And its a really great value way to travel; my weekly ticket costs just £24.50** and I can use it to travel anywhere on the Stagecoach bus network as many times as I like within that week.
Yes there are downsides. There was the time the bus got held up in the snow and we all sat on board for a while until it got moving again. Or the time one of the bells got stuck and so ‘dinged’ non-stop for the entire journey, driving us all slightly insane in the process. I’ve seen angry people shout at bus drivers and each other, and I’ve waited in the rain and wind for a bus that was running late, only to have two turn up at once.
But for me the good far outweighs the bad, no travel experience is without compromise after all. I get to travel to work with a great view and a good book, and my Dutch is coming along a treat."
* Source: BEIS/Defra Greenhouse Gas Conversion Factors 2019
** Price on the Stagecoach Bus smartphone App