Irritations of Modern Life; 1. one-man buses

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THE `PAY-as-you-Enter' double-decker bus travels under many aliases. Because it needs to. It is that unpopular. Also known as the `One-Man Bus', because it goes at the speed of one man pushing it, it is the motorised equivalent of the tower block. And like the tower block, the people responsible for it are never to be found inside.

Let's start with the design, if you can call it that, of this characterless, ugly box. On the outside some of them are now completely covered in advertising. If the bus didn't move off (eventually), you'd think it was a hoarding.

The dreary interior looks as if workmen opened the doors, threw in the seats and poles, then bolted them down where they landed. Every possible travelling position is catered for. You can sit facing forwards, backwards, or sideways, a foot higher than everyone else, looking at the window clips, or with your face inches away from the metal stair-covering.

The stairs are tinny, the bell is tinny, the whole feel of these busses is like the cheap metal of foreign coins with an exchange rate of 17,000 to the pound sterling. No one could find a journey on one of them anything but a chore.

They cause road rage, passenger rage, driver rage, and bus queue rage when the bus you want goes sailing past those already standing at the stop. It has single-handedly been the cause of all the traffic jams known to man. These things park so long at each stop that workmen had the time to install the bus lane around them.

Once on, you can't get off. Held up in traffic, you're a prisoner only a yard before the bus stop because it's more than the driver's job's worth to let you off.

Its alias, the `driver-only' bus, only proves the designers forgot the existence of the passengers. In their rosy world, there are no disabled people, no old people, no mothers with push chairs, no people with shopping, suitcases or crutches and I'm sure the trials were a great success.

The answer is not to bring back the conductor. There's nowhere for them to stand. But bring back the old Routemasters, the hop-on hop-off buses, the ones that actually moved, the ones you could travel on for pleasure. The ones designed for passengers - I refuse to be called a customer - but that's another irritation ...

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