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London Life

#BusGate: How to kick London Bus’ ass (and other top tips)

How to kick a London Bus's ass...

It’s funny how things turn out. There I was worrying that I wouldn’t have something fresh, new and relevent to form the basis of my first proper blog post, and then TFL (good ol’d Transport for London) came hurtling to my rescue.

I should’ve guessed actually. When all else fails, you can usually count on London transport doing what it does best i.e. failing to get you where you want to go, but sending your stress levels through the roof instead.

Firstly, let me apologise to my friends on twitter who have already heard this story. In fact they experienced it first-hand as it unfolded.  In true twitter-style, it was immediately branded as #BusGate . You’ve got to love twitter; it’s amazing how efficiently-expressive you can find yourself being in 140 characters.

And so, to #BusGate. Well, in a nutshell, after a lovely evening in town watching the football and catching up with an old mate, I found myself running from the tube to the bus station to get my usual bus home.

As it’s the bus station at the start of the route, there’s the inevitable panic when you see the bus, realise the engine is on and the driver’s about to pull away. Cue a mad dash trying to run to the bus, hoping the driver will notice you, find an ounce of compassion and wait until you leap on board. Failure to do so results in at least a 10min wait for the next one. (time is precious my friends, especially at 11:30 at night).

The other night I was lucky. The driver saw me as I ran across the bus station. Our eyes met. He acknowledged my existence and need to get on that bus. Only a complete git would drive off now.

Which says something about the quality of London bus drivers.

I ran right up the door and just as I was about to get on, he shut the door. Literally, shut the door In. My. Face.

Surely a mistake? He could see me. In fact he saw me.  The engine’s not even on. He’ll open the door at any moment and let me on.

And then he started the engine. At which point I knocked on the door.

His response was to check mirrors, indicate and manouvre. Despite a paying customer banging on the door … and no doubt much to the amusement of everyone already on the bus.

I don’t know if you’ve ever wanted to jump up and down on the spot with anger in a public place, but if you have then you’ll know how i felt. It’s not very often I get that angry.

But that driver had seen me. He’d acknowledged me. His bus was the only one at the station so I couldn’t have been running for any other reason. And he waited until I was within yards before closing the door and casually pulling away.

He may as well have just flicked me the bird – Eat my dust etc.

At that point I saw red. This may have had something to do with the fact that I was very tired, it was very late, I had an early start the next morning and my sense of humour goes AWOL when tired. (‘Grumpy’ doesn’t even come close).

But anger can sometimes bring amazing clarity and determination. I had a revelation; the first bus stop on the route is on the other side of a very big shopping centre and roundabout. Nightmare to get through… but there is a short cut. Meanwhile the bus driver has to negotiate a massive london gyratory and a 3 or 4 traffic lights.

If I ran – and ran fast – I could beat him to the first stop.

Let the record show that this thought process took less than 0.5 seconds to process. Literally as I stood there fuming, watching the tail lights of the bus pull out of the station, I made the decision; run to the next stop, leap on board and give the driver an absolute, very public, very loud bollocking.

Now if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s running. Two marathons… hellooooo. I’m not usually very fast, and I’m certainly not a sprinter, but again, anger does wonderful things. I was off at a speed.

Through the bus station, into the shopping centre, past Tesco’s, past the dodgy Weatherspoons, out the other side, along the pavement.

Checked over my shoulder; yep the bus is behind me. Not far behind me, but still behind me. I reached the bus stop about 15 seconds before the bus.

I have to say, the look on the driver’s face was wonderful. Absolutely classic. Door open, he looked at me and recognized me instantly. And that recognition confirmed exactly what i thought – he closed that door on me for the hell of it.

For a laugh.

Because he could.

And then he looked away, which I took to be a total admission of guilt.

I stepped on board with a furious stomp. I was really more angry than I’ve been in a long time. It was late, I’d just sprinted two or three hundred yards, I was out of breath and it was hot. I was sweating through my shirt, and that really, really bugs me.

I can’t remember the exact conversation, but it went something like this:

Me – “Do you not want to shut the door in the face of customers who are trying to get on your stupid bus?”

Him- trying to ignore angry ranting gayer on other side of protective glass having complete hissy fit.

Me- (louder) “I said, do you not want to shut the door when there’s blatantly someone trying to get on your stupid bus?”

Him- (looking straight ahead) “It’s up to me when I decided to drive off”

{Entire bus load of passengers now listening…}

Me-  “The hell it is. You do not shut the door in the face of a customer, especially when the engine’s not on, you haven’t pulled away and are quite clearly being obstructive for the fucking sake of it. You do not ignore a paying customer who spends over £100 on public transport every fucking month, pays your wages and keeps you in fucking employment,”.

At that point I realised that my little tirade bordered on abusive (it’s always more effective if you don’t swear, but my anger got the better of me). Technically he would have been quite within his rights to then order me off the bus or refuse to drive any further until I got off the bus.

And so I did the only decent thing left to do.

Before I could let him have the satisfaction of retaliating, I swiped my oyster card on the little beeper with a very dramatic ‘swish’, spun on my heel with an arrogant, nose-in-the-air turn and flounced off to find a seat.

And then I realised everyone on that bus was looking at me with total admiration. I guess we’ve all had similar situations at one time or another, and I’ve always suspected some of those drivers take great pleasure in pulling away whilst you’re running for the bus.  I like to think that mentally they were all applauding me. Anyone who gets that bus route regularly has had it happen to them at some point.

Of course, no one actually said anything… that wouldn’t be very “London”. But there was enough eye contact to know that I was their hero, if only for 15 seconds.


James 1 – 0 London Bus Driver

And that my friends, is how you kick a London Bus’ ass.

Here endeth the lesson.

PS. Don’t try this with a tube train. It won’t work.




5 thoughts on “#BusGate: How to kick London Bus’ ass (and other top tips)

  1. fab story! big up for giving him hell too! i am in a state of giggles and admiration.

    Posted by cluffy | July 10, 2010, 7:56 pm
  2. That’s brilliant! I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to do it and I know exactly how you felt. Also, this is your first blog post? Not sure if you’ve blogged before, but you’re pretty damn good at writing. It’s not often that I read a post from top to bottom without pause – I normally just skim for the important parts or get bored half way through – but this was awesome! So good in fact, that I even took the time to write a comment haha.

    Keep it up, I’m definitely coming back! Oh and I’m on Twitter too: I’m @Bull3t.

    Posted by Bull3t | July 10, 2010, 9:07 pm
    • Hey thanks v much for the compliments and yes this is a new blog, although i did write a smaller occasional one before about training to run the marathon (check my first post which has a url to it, if you’re interested). anyway, really glad you read it from top to bottom, that’s great to hear 🙂 i’ll drop you a note on twitter

      Posted by JamesMW78 | July 10, 2010, 10:16 pm
  3. Wow, well done on dealing with a bad bus-driver! Great story!

    Posted by Fiez Mughal | July 27, 2010, 9:50 pm

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