Djcnor’s Weblog

Preliminary to the Water Company Exercize Program

Posted on: February 18, 2009

I love the UK public transportation system. It’s not as good as it was when I first came to visit in 1985, and the Brits will tell you the same (That’s one of Maggie Thatcher’s changes they regret), but it’s danged good. Because it is so good, we have not needed to own a car. Now, that’s a significant budget savings.

We live about 2 miles outside a town of a population of about 125,000. Since the bus system was de-socialized, there can be more than one bus system serving overlapping areas, and all sorts of other arrangements.

For example, we have 4 city buses per hour (4 in each direction) that stop at our nearest stop. In addition, there are  3-4 of the county buses that stop as well. And then there are, it seems, even more of the park-and-ride buses from a parking site further outside the city.

The park-and-ride buses go right past our stop. I think they have a stop at the city train station just before the city center, but that’s a mile and a half or more away. It’s very frustrating watching those buses go past empty in the middle of the day.

All these buses run from around 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM and then there is a once an hour bus in each direciton after that. I don’t know how late it runs.

You can’t use the same tickets on the city buses as you use on the county buses (and vice versa) unless you travel free as do those 60 and over (who can travel free on local buses throughout the whole country!) or disabled. This means that the most convenient way to use these systems is to hold a weekly pass for the city buses AND a 10-ride ticket for the county buses. The least expensive way is to have a city bus pass and be frustrated that you can’t take the county buses. (You can see the disadvantage of having all these different systems overlapping and not cooperating.)

In addition, there are the trains. There are several lines that go all over the place. London is about two hours away. All the little villages out in the county have small stations that are served about every half hour to an hour. And the summer deals for wandering the county and going back and forth to the seashore towns are great. The prices to London during rush hour are anything but great, and they aren’t particularly great off peak.

We also have a bus station in town for long distance bus travel. Going to London via one of these long distance buses is much much cheaper but takes about half again as long.

Last week, the water company started work on the road where our closest stop is. I need to write a whole post on the consequences of this for us…and I will, but not tonight.  

I’m going to designate certain posts, past ones, and this one, and others in the future as ones to read if you really want some clue as to what it would be like to live in another country. I especially want to talk about what it’s like to live under the European version of socialism, because it is so different from the stereotype so many Americans have. I am inspired to do this and to invite other such posts from ex-pats in other countries by a post in the WiredSister blog by Red Emma. Yes, Red Emma. So? Read her anyway.


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