Monday, September 08, 2008

On buses and taxis

I couldn't decide today whether to write about Sydney bus drivers, or London cabbies... until I realised that combined they would make an uber-post. So here goes:

- Sydney cab drivers are pants. They don't know where they are going. And they don't offer a refund if you have to do all the navigating yourself (indeed on more than one occasion they have thrown the AtoZ onto the back seat and I have done just that). I have taken to carrying my own AtoZ. It's just easier and being pocket sized I can pass it forward and point at the appropriate road without my arms aching.

- It all makes me think wistfully of the London cabbie. Five years of running over pedestrians on the streets of London from the back of a scooter while they peer at an open AtoZ to memorise it really does pay off. They may be the UK's most expensive cabbies but you get The Knowledge thrown in free so it's certainly worth it. Plus their chipper banter really brightens up the endless queues into Soho on a Friday evening. London cabbies; I salute you.

- London bus drivers, however, appear to have learnt their manners from Sydney cabbies. Or walls. They stare dead ahead as you embark and you almost have to poke them if you actually want to pay your fare (perhaps Ken and now Boris are paying them extra to incentivise passengers to buy an Oyster card so no interaction is required). If you want to get on or off with a push chair, however, you are guaranteed a response from the London bus driver. A huff. I don't miss you.

- Sydney bus drivers, I think, are naturally morning people. As you embark they take the time to give you change, or merrily watch you swipe your Travel Ten ticket. They cry "Have a lovely day!" as everyone hops on and off - even if you exit via the middle doors. Having been raised in the land of the polite cabby (not the land of the cheerful bus driver) this takes me by surprise *every single morning* and makes me smile each day. I think Sydney bus drivers should be on the Australia immigration posters. They are fab.

The End.


Anna said...

Ah, now can we be expecting a comparison of bus passengers? Public transport etiquette fascinates me; the ban on eye-contact and how it doesn't apply in breakdown situations, whether it is ok to sit next to someone when there are empty seats elsewhere.

I'd love to know how they do things down under... I imagine it's a lot less fraught with tension!

Emily Wearmouth said...

Ah yes the rule about not sitting next to someone while there is room elsewhere stil applies here and there isn't a lot of eye contact either.

Good point. Seems the friendliness stops at the driver!

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