Friday, 30 December 2011

Public you use it?

There isn’t any in South Africa....that’s what I’m told. Well actually there is but I’m also told NOT to use it, it’s not safe, trains are dirty, overcrowded there is trouble on them, expensive. There is the Gautrain running from the airport to Pretoria and many stops for shopping and entertainment, but we’ve not been on it yet and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve missed public transport, the freedom to catch a train to Birmingham to watch the football, a train to Worcester for work or shopping. Putting the kids on a train to visit their dad and catching the bus back from town if I did too much shopping to carry.
But on this trip to the UK I’ve realised that I haven’t missed it at all, not one bit. My first train journey on my UK visit was from Gatwick to St Albans, OK granted it was 7am and travelled through London, yes it was going to be busy, but it was over crowded, I stood up for the 90 minutes it took, stopping at many places to pick up even more people. I had two cases, it was hot, people were shoving their way on and off and people were narky with me for taking up the room. No one said anything directly but there lots of comments behind my back.
The next train I caught was from Reading to Newport. I had a seat; there were TV screens, like on an aeroplane, £1.73 per journey and a good selection of programmes. It was a cleaner train with a buffet car. I hate that, you have to plan your trip for coffee to ensure you don’t stop at a station whilst you’re gone so no one can steal your luggage.
The third train trip was to Birmingham to watch the football. I parked in Colwall a few miles from Malvern as there is off road parking available which is free. An uneventful trip to the football, freezing cold, made better by the fact we won. I had a seat on the train, but it was over crowded and a few people were getting narky as they thought they had the right to a seat and not someone else of the same age/ability. If they had a disability or were pregnant and it wasn’t obvious then they should’ve said. Anyway as is typical of this train journey, there was an announcement that the train wasn’t going past Great Malvern and we were to alight and wait for the next one in 20 minutes. So shivering on an open platform, we waited and there was an announcement that the nest train to Hereford had been delayed. We shivered for an hour.
There was one bus trip from Bath to Bristol...£ I found the answer to the question ‘where do they get these people from?’ Seems half the passengers were off to appear on the Jerry Springer show.
I realised I miss public transport because it wasn’t available, not because I enjoy using it.

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