Sunday, 18 September 2011
Ridin’ the ol’ folk’s bus
“How much is a return ticket to Aberdeen?”
The woman I asked, the youngest-looking of several queued up at the Huntly bus stop, returned a puzzled look.
“I really don’t know. I have a bus pass.” The others smiled. They all had bus passes.
So do I. Every Scottish resident older than 60 holds a bus pass that gives bus trips, at government expense, anywhere in Scotland.That day Amber and I decided to take the bus instead of our usual train, thinking that we’d save a few pennies.
The big blue bus pulled up at the stop. We loaded our suitcases under the bus. I swiped my ol' folk's pass, then paid Amber’s fare. £16.80. That’s £4 more than the rail fare would have been.
While we squeezed into the seats, with legroom less than a RyanAir flight, I sucked a mint to settle my stomach. The constant vibration made me too nauseous to read a book. So I had time to ponder both the meaning of the universe, and also why the bus is so expensive to take, despite taking 40 minutes longer than the train and being more uncomfortable.
One possible answer was in front of me, all the q-tips poking out above the seats, my own grey head included. Amber was the only fare-paying passenger on the bus. Her £16.80 was bankrolling the entire trip. The rest of us were freeloading.
The money behind