London: Public Transportation
I never ever thought that I would be one to talk badly about public transportation. Growing up in California, effective public transportation was a thing of fairy tales and whimsy. I did not know a single person who used the bus to commute to work or took the train to travel. Aside from being heavily stigmatized, it was ineffective. When I came to Europe, I was in awe! Metro systems to get you around town in flash? Buses to get you from Point A to Point B on the cheap? I could travel everywhere I wanted and didn’t have to worry about a car — I had to be dreaming.
Well, it’s been over one year and I still rarely have issues with public transport. Despite the occassional sweatiness of the Tube and the long commutes by bus, it works. Today was the day that I felt like a true Londoner; a person well-versed in the ways of the public transport system who, for the first time, complained about inefficiency. Unlike yesterday, today has been rainy, cloudy and drab. Going out in weather like this tends to put me in a bit of a bad mood anyway (usually this bad mood lasts for but a moment; I blame it on the Californian in me — still getting used to the lack of sunshine). I was meeting friends for lunch so I jetted out the door and walked briskly to the bus stop (in 4″ heels, mind you), umbrella in hand, jumping over puddles to avoid being soaked up to my calf. I got to the bus stop at Belsize Park and was thrilled — 2 minutes until my favorite 168 bus was going to arrive.
Two minutes passed. No bus.
Five minutes passed. No bus.
Twenty minute passed. NO BUS.
What in the world is going on?!! The C11 bus has come 239423084 times and the 168 can’t seem to find its way to this little bus stop where I am waiting ever-so-patiently?! Admittedly, I acted like an annoyed child, checking my phone every five seconds for the time and huffing and puffing as I waited in the rain.
These were the thoughts going through my head: ‘I cannot believe that the bus isn’t here yet! I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes! I have places to be… what if I had to be at a real appointment?! Who is responsible for this madness? Do they have one single bus that runs this route? I mean really!’
That’s when I had to stop and take a breath. I’m turning into a spoiled Londoner who forgets to appreciate the fact that there is a working public transport system! Yes, I had to wait a bit longer than anticipated (for one of the first times this year). Yes, I was annoyed. In the grand scheme of things, though, I should be grateful that there is a bus to take me where I need to go. On top of that, I pay a measly £1.20 to get to my destination. Seriously. Breathe, Shannon, and stop complaining. This is really a message to all Londoners: I know it’s annoying occassionally and you compare the UK system with the system in France/Spain/wherever it’s better than here, but take a moment and think about what we deal with in the US! No public transport to speak of (except in a few exceptional cities). We have to drive, pay for cabs and deal with the grubbiest, grossest public transport in existence. Once I remind myself of that? Well, I guess I should be thankful that a twenty-minute wait is all I have to complain about.
xoxo from London,