I caught a bus to a shopping mall once when my car was in for a service. It turned what was usually a 20 minute trip, into a 90 minute (not very) scenic tour of the suburbs. I have not been near one since. Not only are buses terrible to travel on, they are also extremely annoying for other road users who encounter them on a daily basis.
Buses are by far the slowest moving thing on the road, and although they are not as pleasant to look at even Lycra clad cyclists are faster. Despite their complete disregard for driving at a decent speed, buses have complete priority over everybody else on the road, if not by law then by pure “I’m bigger than you” mentality.
Why should the unwashed people of public transport should have priority over me to get to where they are going? Daytime buses are generally full of old people or the unemployed, neither of which are in any particular rush to get anywhere.
Stupid bus lanes
In between thinking up new ways to stall on making actual important decisions, our brilliant Government thought it would be a good idea get rid of the second car lanes in the city centre and turn them into bus lanes. That means, between the hours of 7am to 7pm, many of the roads in the city centre and leading into the city are a single lane for cars whilst outside of rush hour, on the odd occasion that a bus drives down the road, it has an entire lane all to itself.
Surprisingly, the result of this is that there is an empty lane running down some of the busiest roads in the city centre for most of the day. Next to the empty lane, all the cars are crammed in a single lane backed up into the suburbs because it takes twice as long to get through the traffic lights and if somebody decides that they want to turn right everybody has to wait for them. I’m not even making it up, a trip down a 2km stretch of the city now takes 3 and a half minutes longer than before the bus lanes were introduced and the average speed of cars has reduced by 9kph.
To top it off… The buses now all line up at the start of the bus lanes to get into them which brings all of the traffic to a standstill. It is OK that the bus lanes have gridlocked the city though, because the Government are making money by issuing $300 on the spot fines for drivers caught in the lanes.
Bus priority at traffic lights
At some intersections, buses have their own place to pull around all of the traffic waiting at the red light and wait at the front next to all of the other traffic. They also have their own traffic signal which lets them pull away first. In the middle of the intersection, the bus waiting lane then merges back into the regular road. The net result is that all of the cars are now stuck behind the bus again. Whatever moron came up with that idea should be shot, or made to ride the bus for the rest of their life.
Bus priority means that on a typical morning, a car driver comes upon a bus, the bus stops at the side of the road forcing the car wait before going around it. It wouldn’t be so bad if they had the decency to park parallel to the curb but the majority of bus driver I come across don’t give a shit and will leave the ass of their bus sticking out further than Kim Kardashian’s?
At the next set of traffic lights, the bus pulls up and goes into its own lane at the side of the road before pulling away in front of everybody else. If you make the mistake of leaving the passenger window down, you get a car full of fumes. Now you are stuck behind it again as the never-ending cycle continues. The net result is that everybody on the road gets to their destination at the same time as the bus.
Giving way to a bus
As if having their own bus lanes and priority at intersections wasn’t enough. We also have this stupid law that cars must give way to buses. I understand that it must be difficult for a fully qualified professional heavy vehicle driver to drive such a large vehicle. However, in the mind of your average overweight bus driver, it means that they are entitled to indicate for a nanosecond before pulling out into the side of your car like a kamikaze pilot when you are alongside them.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the bus stops were decent distance apart, but because people are so lazy, the stops are 10 metres apart which makes the drive to work like driving down a pinball table.
Bus vs car
Yes, I understand that part of the purpose of public transport is to ease the pressure of cars on the road. But, most buses running through the day have no more than 10 people on them and if those 10 people were to drive a car instead, the traffic would keep flowing smoothly and everybody would get to their destination quicker. Their journey would take a third of the time, and everybody would be happier.
If you want a solution, encourage people heading to the same place to get together and carpool. Or here is an idea, let cars with more than 1 person in them use the bus lane.. It has worked in America.