This Bus Don’t Stop Here No More…

24 Feb

On Explainin’ The Cosmos, I like to write about anything and everything, as you may know. Between you and I, the only real rules I stick to are:

  1. It must be informative, or entertaining, but preferably a 60/40 split, and

  2. It must hold my limited attention span long enough for me to write more than, ooh, a couple of paragraphs before I shout “NNANRRHFG!” and throw the netbook half way across the room.

One exception to this rule is deaths. I don’t like writing about deaths at all. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with dying, and some of my best friends are dead. It just feels a little… out of line. Death, after all, is fairly final. Regardless of your thoughts on the afterlife (if that’s your cup of spiritual tea), death for us mere mortals is a one way ticket.

I’d like to think that some posts I make on this blog can help people improve their lives, in a roundabout, read-between-the-lines-and-do-the-exact-opposite kind of way, yet there is nothing in the world of the deceased that can offer such hope, only dread, and a feeling of a lack of direction between now and the inscribing of your tombstone.

That all said, boys and girls, GOOD NEWS!!! This is a blogpost about DEATH! YAY!

Though not the death of a person, I might add.

This is far more important.

This is about the death of a BUS COMPANY.

McKindless were the rebel transport operator of choice in Glasgow and neighbouring Lanarkshire towns. In Glasgow, the majority of buses are run by First Group, as are the trains (First Scotrail), leaving them with a healthy monopoly over the cities transport links. And, in fairness, they do an alright job. The buses are reasonably new, many with state of the art info-tellys, the buses usually turn up on time (give or take a minute), and the buses are usually clean in the morning. At £1.35 for a single into town, it’s not the cheapest bus service out there, but it’s still reasonable compared with cities of similar sizes.

McKindless, on the other hand, were nothing of the sort. The buses were old, half the size of their competitors, turned up when they felt like it (or so it seemed), and were only slightly cheaper (at the time of their demise last Friday, they only wanted £1.25 for the same journey). That’s why I loved them so, and why it was such a joy travelling on them.

I have no proof to back up this claim, but I suspect that First bus drivers are trained to show no emotion, or at least I HOPE it’s training. “Just put your foot down, drive, watch out for pedestrians, and print out tickets” is how I imagine that particular induction meeting ended. Any warmth or gratitude shown to a driver on the 62 of the morning is not just ignored; you wonder if it’s even registered sometimes. I can see how it can be beneficial to a company to have drivers with the personality of a toaster; it can to some seem “professional” and shows that these guys and girls are “committed to their job”. It also gives the service a uniform experience, much like all Domino’s Pizzas taste like a Dominos and not a Pizza Hut, you definitely know when you’re on the First bus.

By marked contrast, every McKindless driver I ever came across was INSANE (in a nice, not questioning their sanity way). The guy who usually drove the bus to work was a nice lad. He never bothered asking me where I was going, or how much the fare was, we just smiled at each other, I tossed my money in the coin bucket, and he printed out a ticket. Occasionally, when I was more compus mentus of the morning, I’d chat away to him, mindlessly mocking the “do not talk to the driver whilst he is driving” sign. Happy days.

Of course, talking to the driver whilst the vehicle is in motion isn’t to be encouraged, kids. Especially not if the bus you’re on is making more noise than you, and the kid with music-playing mobile phone combined. I must admit, the buses that McKindless used were excellent when they first came out. I should know, I remember the fleet being used by Metrobus in south-east London a good ten years earlier. A lick of paint can’t fool me. Despite the age of the vehicles being apparent on the outside, you wouldn’t have guessed from the inside. The buses hadn’t got slower with time,if anything, they’d got faster! Though the casual cynic might suggest it’s the maniac driver doing his best to finish his shift early putting his foot down, and just making it through the amber light with nanoseconds to spare, a feat that left adult passengers stunned, and children crying.

Not all the drivers were cuckoo in a good way, mind. There is a blind guy who occasionally gets on the bus, and one feckless driver decided he would help the blind man to his seat, by shouting directions. Remember the hit 80s childrens show, Knightmare? It was like that, but on a bus. From the 80s.

There was also the bloke in the afternoon, who I’m guessing had not been told about the Health and Safety (Scotland) Act 2005, because he would often stop his bus, on St. Vincent St, for a fag at about 4.15. He never left his chair or opened a window.

But the passengers didn’t mind all these things, because it’s what gave the service character, something which the modern world is massively lacking in at the moment (and don’t you dare call me “Grandad”, I’m 27 AND I got I.D.ed in Tescos last week). First are the market leaders because they are predictable, bland, and safe. I can see exactly why people admire those qualities in a bus company; no-one wants to die on their way to work in a speeding alloy box. But yet thats exactly why I would, even if it meant waiting for the little green bus on the horizon, and (hoping my boss isn’t reading this) even if it meant being late for the third time in the week, the overall package was a joy.

McKindless Bus ceased trading at 1900 on the 19th of February, 2010. They only had given a few hours notice to the local passenger transport executive, SPT, of their going out of business. Sadly, facts are few and far between as to why they were wound up so quickly – and my heart goes out to all the guys suddenly made redundant last Friday night. However, as one door closes another one opens, as the eternal optimists say – hopefully some budding entrepreneur will see the gap that’s now opened in the Glasgow transport market, and start a new bus company, because it would be a shame if the only guys in town were First Bus, and it would be a tragedy if these drivers weren’t let loose on the roads again, if only to keep us all in check.


3 Responses to “This Bus Don’t Stop Here No More…”

  1. MFAC February 24, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    I fuckin' hate info tellies. Info-iltrating my life.I do, however, like the drivers on the First buses. When they recognise you, in my experience, they are happy to chat about the football, or even, in the bloke on the number 89's case, wait for me to wrestle a case of beer through the single door in Maryhill shopping centre, walk round the corner and jog to his bus, before pulling away. His response to my gratitude was that "Ah don't mind waitin' on ye. A' these cunts have goat no other way uv getting tae Govan anyhow". I bought him beer for his Christmas.


  2. Will fae London February 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    Ahh that's the 89 though. I've found that the drivers on the 90 are nothing but megacunts who'll drive off if they see even the slightest hint of a can of Bass Lager


  3. Dave February 28, 2010 at 10:47 pm #

    RIP McKindless Bus Company. No more will I be stood at traffic lights, having plumes of diesel exhaust fumes blinding me, as the bus pulls away, or seeing them being mended by a mechanic at the side of the road!


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