Thursday, August 11, 2011

Underground is Hell

One thing I won't miss about London (other than the greedy deranged looters rampaging through the city right now) is the public transport, most particularly the London Underground. It's like a Subway, only far more expensive, smelly and inefficient.

Mind you, I used to love not having to drive everywhere, in fact I managed to survive without a driving license until late 2007. The city is littered with tube stations and there are plenty of buses connecting everything else. It's a very efficient system except for when it's not, which is often enough for you to rely on its unreliability.

It's a bit of a problem trying to get to work on time when you don't know for sure whether there's going to be a delay or not, anything from a five minutes delay to complete cancellations of scheduled trains. The reasons are at least varied so you don't get too bored hearing the same excuse over and over:

Snow on the tracks in winter, leaves on the tracks in autumn, rays of sunshine on the tracks in summer, person on the tracks every other day, signal problems always and so on. And if everything is actually on track, literally, with your train you might still end up waiting in stops to "even the gaps" between trains in the service. It can really drive you mad. Maybe that what happened with all the rioters; they became demented after years of exposure to the London Underground system.

Of course the London Underground people work hard to improve the service which includes shutting down vital parts of the Underground System for weeks and often even months. It's a bit like a surgeon taking out the heart out of the patient's body so he could operate on it more easily. When they don't work hard to improve the service they go on strikes that bring the entire city to a stop.

Delays, planned work and cancellations aren't the only problems. Often you'd get the new driver who's still figuring out the controls on the go, accelerating and braking like mad, tossing everyone around like bowling pins. That is, if there was room to be tossed around. During rush hour the trains can be so packed some women might leave the train unintentionally pregnant. Even some men.

To be fair, it's probably a big city thing. I have no idea how the experience compares to subway train systems in other cities. I also don't particularly wish to find out. For the time being I am done with big cities. While an hour commute in each way is considered great in London (it means spending ten hours a week just travelling), in Winnipeg people actually move homes if their commute or school run is longer than twenty minutes. I like that. Life is too short.

Moving to Winnipeg means lots of lovely tasks to take care of and I was on the way to town on Monday for one of those tasks so I had the joy of using the London Underground once more. I allowed for an hour travel, but since a chunk of the track was out of service and won't be reopened until after I leave London I took the replacement bus service which was tortuously slow. And I was too late.

So I tried again on Wednesday, allowing for more time. I decided to kill two birds with one stone: I took Blake with me. Blake loves trains, planes and automobiles. What was for me boring and tedious was for him wonderful and exciting and in short bursts I got to glimpse things from his point of view which was quite nice.

Blake on the bus is cute, cute cute! All day long!
So I've taken care of business and we had a nice little lunch before heading back home. The weather has been quite bad since we came back from Winnipeg, but yesterday it was quite nice and sunny which added to the experience. The best part undoubtedly was sitting at the front of the double decker bus and looking down at the sprawling road below us. As far as Blake was concerned he had a front seat to the best IMAX movie ever produced: Driving Through London.

Who's driving this bus?!

Since I didn't take a stroller I had to carry Blake on my shoulders some of the time, but it was well worth it. Thank you son for turning a boring chore into a fun day out.
Blake's favourite part of lunch is the food.
I'll finish with this crude music video "London Underground" by Amateur Transplant. If four letter words starting with F and C offend you, steer clear.



Mark said...

Oh my, the language! Honestly!
Anyway, It was years ago but I found the Underground system pretty darn clean. I mean, have you been to New York?
Other than that, yes, your boy is super cute and I bet that bus ride was cheaper than the theatre, right? m.

Julie said...

My drive to work consists of one stop sign, three left turns and.... no wait. That's all!
I do have to put up with the occasional deer or moose on the road and yesterday a grasshopper flew threw my open window and hit me in the face and that smarted for a minute or two.

Mickey said...

Grasshopper assault?! I rather be stuck on the London Underground for two hours, thank you!