In recent years successive government departments have promoted buses as an efficient way to combat global warming and traffic gridlock. We are encouraged to leave the car at home and catch the Number 44.
Sounds sensible on the face of it. But if you apply a smattering of logic it becomes obvious that it’s utter nonsense.
Consider this: even if the bus IS more efficient and greener – which I very much doubt – when sitting at a bus stop it creates a tailback of parked cars, all of which are producing more greenhouse gasses than if they were allowed to simply carry on their way.
And have you noticed that when you do finally manage to get clear of the bus that’s been holding back the line of cars (and there will be another just ahead, don’t worry) it’s carrying only one or two passengers? A great big bus with a great big engine pumping God-knows-what into the atmosphere so that two people and a dog can get to The Buroo. Hardly sounds like a way to save the planet.
Now, buses are probably a good idea at rush-hour, granted. But for the other 11 hours it’s the stop – go – stop journey these wheeled boxes create for all the cars stuck behind them that really irks. With every stop, more cars join the queue until the bus is leading a mile-long procession through the town.
This isn’t helped by the number of bus stops, either. Take Polbeth; a village hardly a half mile from beginning to end. But it has eight bus stops – plus a temporary stop – within the village. And just yards outside the boundary there are another four! That’s thirteen places where a bus can block the street and create a jam, keeping a line of busy individuals and delivery trucks from going about their business, while a couple of dozy passengers fumble around in bags and pockets looking for the right change. And that’s just one village. Does that sound sensible to you?
Yet drivers put up with it every day. The next time you’re driving around a West Lothian town, try driving at bus-speed and stopping every 100 yards to ask whoever happens to be on the pavement if they have change of a fiver. I guarantee you won’t get very far before one of the drivers in the following cortege pulls you from the vehicle and gives you a hefty slap – or the police pull you over. But buses get away with it.
The conclusion? If you want to free up the traffic and reduce air pollution in West Lothian it might make more sense to reduce the number of buses trundling around our roads, and encourage people to take the car.