Friday, 27 May 2016

Racks and wrecks: why I am off my trolley with buses.

Will transport companies EVER put in place buses that are designed for passengers AND their shopping, luggage, buggies, children, wheelchairs and so on, to travel comfortably together - I do stress the comfortable bit. Recently, I endured a nightmare journey from Heathrow to the suburbs, on an airport designated bus. Quite simply, I was trying to look after my trolley suitcase, computer bag and handbag. Ravenous, I wanted to consume a sandwich while travelling in comfort. A not impossible feat, you would imagine, but the very few luggage spaces were already occupied when I got on the bus - at the airport, I stress - the craft being no different from a central London bus. I had no choice but to occupy a "normal" passenger seat while holding onto my computer bag and handbag with one hand, and clutching my roving-inclined trolley with the other. Every time the bus turned, lurched or even swayed slightly, I was obliged to become a human octopus, struggling to prevent my possessions from clobbering other passengers. Eventually, another "baggage" passenger disembarked and I was able to occupy his space, but not before I had become an enraged, sweating, humiliated wreck. The irony is - it does not have to be like this. When I lived in central Europe, even "town centre" buses were long, elegant transport cabins, with one or two seats abreast at one side, a wide aisle for walking up and down, and a floor-level rack along the other side. Suitcases leaved singly into this rack, while the smaller top rack was for lighter baggage. Sways, turns and lurches made no difference; the luggage stayed in place throughout the journey. When whatever passenger disembarked, he could simply retrieve his suitcase without disturbing that of anyone else. Best of all, the rack was bayed at intervals, leaving space for buggies, wheelchairs, walking aids, whatever. This seating arrangement enables the passenger to sit alongside his or her secured luggage or child or invalid companion, and allows him or her to eat, read, listen to music and actually enjoy the urban voyage. Of course, I am aware that in chilly, old Great Britain, any sucker unable or unwilling to pay £50 or so for a taxi deserves every discomfort and humiliation that the system can throw at him. If we have to haul luggage onto those boxy, rack-free "passenger" buses, all I ask is that designers leave enough room - in the downstairs deck, at least - between and underneath seats, for suitcases - please.

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