Taking the bus

Intrinsically there is something depressing about the bus. With the honourable exception of interstate Greyhounds and the 209 from Mortlake to Hammersmith there is precious little romance about bus travel. Everything about it seems geared towards frustration, angst and misery. There’s a reason Tinie Tempah wants us to know he drives past the bus he used to run for – and why the Divine Comedy sang about the National Express and not First Great Western.

Trains at least run to timetables and have stations. Buses claim to have times but lurch to bus stops, shelters, random points and never seem to take the direct route. The adverts on the damn things always only ever seem to be about fare evasion. I have no idea why it is this bad but consistently – and I speak as a daily user of public transport – buses are the most soul sapping way of getting about. I suspect this is why there are very few decent photos of buses, bus users or the bus journeying infrastructure.

Tom Wood took thousands of shots of Liverpool in the 70s and 80s (and beyond) both from and on the bus. If I had the time, patience, skill and requisite cojones I’d want to do the same – because for all that bus travel is frustrating and angst making it is also a unique way of seeing a place. Those lurches in traffic from a raised vantage point – the observation of other people on the bus, each trying to be themselves or forget where they are but all in a forced public setting. Needless to say most times the camera stays unfired but there are great moments happening everywhere, in amongst the wondering why the hell the damn thing can’t just move forward.

This shot is of a street just off High Wycombe town centre. I just like the contrast between the glamour of Cheryl Cole – herself at the time starting to lose her sheen as the people’s sweetheart on the X Factor – and the rather mundane surroundings she appears to be watching ever. As ever, I make no great claims for it, I just took it because I wanted to. You can see the details of it here.

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