Those of you who remember watching ‘The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin’ (Jack, I’m staring at you) will know that Reggie was always exactly thirteen minutes late to work, mostly due to signal failures. Having become a regular Tube user (I have the blackened fingernails to prove it) I’ve come to appreciate just how fine a service British Rail provides.
Case in point: Cardiff Bus Service.
Generally bad. Bus drivers don’t seem to want you as a customer so tell you to go to another ‘more appropiate’ stop, which turns out not only to go in another direction entirely but is also at the opposite end of the terminal to the next bus you will be directed to. Drivers also promise to tell you when to get off; they are lying and then deny all knowledge of that conversation when you get to the end of the route.
Venezia Vaporetto: When you board the waterbus you are guaranteed of getting to your chosen location at a speed somewhat slower than crawling, although for some destinations (like Murano and La Guidecca) swimming there is your only other option. However, getting on the boat is difficult, if not because queuing is a foreign idea to the average Italian then because the boats are generally crowded with passengers. Passengers who you have seen go past on the very same boat, unable to get off due to the crowding that denies you ingresso.
Roma Metro: The underground suffers from the same problems as the Venezia Vaporetto. The buses suffer from overly friendly men who either want to frisk your pockets or just want to feel your bum. Still, the most disturbing example of the latter was in the Vatican Post Office. He wasn’t even a priest!
Lake District Bus Service: The bus you want will break down just before picking you up. The replacement bus will take you to your intended stop. Your intended stop will turn out to be seven miles away from where you want to go. You will never see another bus again in the three hours of walking in the rain that follows.
Parigi Metro: Do not speak English to any attendants. They will deliberately send you off in the wrong direction, laughing silently as you trundle off, luggage in hand, towards some darkened pit of Paris. Bizarrely enough, they will be Japanese.
So, the Underground. It may have rotating line failures that are timed perfectly with my needing to get to Stansted Airport but its still a cut above the rest of human civilisation when it comes to efficency and speed.