Friday, June 03, 2005

A funny thing happened on the bus........

Well no it didn't actually, and I can't really imagine much fun occurring on a bus no matter where, when or why, unless it was a female beach volleyball world tour bus...*drifts into deep thought*...nah that would never happen.

The reason for this post is a conversation that I had the other day on the subject of how difficult it was to get a bus in certain parts of Europe (we both having extensively traveled through much of Europe).

Having pondered the subject a little I've come to some conclusions for this all. I just think that each European country just likes to make it as hard as possible for travelers (well maybe not Germany - I found their transport system on the whole superb).

Firstly a lot of people only come into contact with public travel whilst away on holiday. So the language thing is a bit of a barrier in the first place. Then bus/train companies like to use dumb terms for the umpteen hundred different ticket types available. Us Brits are probably the worst for it though, come on what does a Supa Day Sava mean to a German tourist who's bothered to learn some real English - you won't find it in a phrase book!

Then there's the fact over here a train ticket will cost so much more if bought on the day rather than purchasing the required ticket 15 weeks ahead! For heaven's sake a standard train ticket from London to Liverpool bought on the day will cost more than a 1st class exclusive club dub members sir sir gold edition ticket bought 8 weeks in advance? This then brings me to the fact certain tickets can only be bought at certain times of the day (depending on where Mars is in conjunction with Sagittarius rising over my left nipple).

So what happens places like Italy in return decide to make things complicated by having the validation system - whereby bus tickets need to be bought prior to boarding (no-one will tell you this until you've waited 45mins for your bus and try to get on). Then once on the bus you need to validate the ticket yourself otherwise you get a fine (as potentially you could re-use the ticket indefinitely or until a conductor catches you).

Then there's the ambiguity of what counts as the location of a place. Usually only refined to flight travel, such as Frankfurt Hahn airport is actually a good 70 km from Frankfurt. The same can be said for the London airports (Luton, Stanstead) both an easy 40mins from London (I very vaguely remember reading that one of the cheap flight companies are doing flights to a European city but you actually land a few miles across the border in another country!). The worst I've encountered was being dropped off by a coach at a service station on the motorway and having to hike a few miles (carrying backpack and snowboards).

Look all I (we) wanted to do was get on, and say "one ticket to xxxxxxx, please" and pay the lowest price possible, sit down or stand (I don't mind) and get off at a reasonable distance to the location.

It's just all made so complicated for the locals, let alone for visiting travelers. So it really does beg the question why on earth is it called Public travel? When the public can't make head or tail of it all! What really takes the biscuit is that governments would like us to use more public transport (makes sense environmentally), but when it's so hard to figure out (and can cost so much more) no wonder people are reluctant to give up their cars.

The End