Monday, 13 March 2006

“You couldn’t let me out here, could you?”

No, not a chance.

Actually what I say when some asks me if I can let them of the whilst we are stopped at traffic lights or in heavy traffic is, “ Sorry Sir, the company aren’t keen on us opening the doors except at bus stops.”

There are door on buses for one very good reason. It isn’t to stop people getting on with out paying or to keep the bus warm in winter and roasting in summer. It’s to stop passengers hurting themselves buy getting on or off buses when they are moving. Back in the dim and distant past all buses were what is known in the trade as back loaders. The old London Routemaster is the most famous example of a back loader. An open platform at the back and until front loaders turned up in the late fifties and early sixties passengers regularly hurt themselves decking on and off moving buses.

Two examples I most vividly remember from my childhood, one happened at Brookes’s Bar in Manchester. I had just come out off the Imperial Cinema (a flea pit, you could sit in the front 4 rows for 6 pence (old money), you were about 6 feet from the screen and you usually came out with a stiff neck as you spent the entire film turning your head from side to side just so you could see all the screen). Across the road stood, and still stands, the Whalley Hotel. Some one came out of the pub just as the 81 was leaving. He forgot the old maxim that there will always be an other bus (who am I kidding) and started running after the bus as it pulled away from the stop. Grabbing the bar at the back of the platform he hoped to pull himself on to the bus. Instead he found that he was running faster that Lynford Christie on a good day and was unable to let go of the bar. He continued running, holding the bar in the desperate, forlorn hope that he would gain enough speed to deck on the bus. Sorry to say he didn’t make it and the effort of running faster than a speeding bus got too much and he fell, still holding on to the bar, and was dragged along into Moss Lane where somebody managed to tell the driver who stopped. An ambulance was called.

The other example happened at All Saints where some decked of the bus as it went round the corner into Oxford Street. The motor cycle combination hit him and he ended up in the side car. He was a bit luckier then the above gent, after a brief shouting match with the motor cyclist he walked off with only a slight limp.

So we have had doors on buses for over 40 years and passenger still ask if they can get off at the lights. Some drivers do let them. Not me. It’s to do with the look on the lawyer’s face when he asks you how you broke your leg.
“Getting off a bus.” You reply. A slight smile appears on his/her face.
“At a bus stop?” He/she asks.
“Yes.” you reply. The smile vanishes like a ticket inspector when he realizes the bus approaching is on a school run.

Or you answer, “No. At the traffic lights.” The smile is now broader than the Grand Canyon, £ signs exploding in his/her head.

So if you were one of the four passengers who asked the question at the top of the page last Friday, you have a brief inkling of why I refused. If you were the one in Brixham, I am not a miserable git. I just don’t see why I should risk my job to save you 10 seconds.

I hope you all watched part two of Planet Earth apart that is, the gentleman in Brixham who called me a miserable git. Personally I hope your TV blew up.

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