Where I live is kind of like 10 miles or so outside the city centre. I work on the fringes of the city. I live 20 minutes walk from a local rail network station (Hunts Cross) and 5 minutes walk from the nearest bus stop. There are also 3 major high schools in the vicinity, St Julies (school for girls) [previously known as Notre Dame but the headmistress rebranded it as St Julies in the early 80's because all the kids were getting taunts of "hunchback" and "the bells"], St Francis Xavier (school for boys) [which is where I went to school] and Gateacre Comprehensive (School for trainee chavs) [Think Grange Hill. Allegedly Phil Redmond based his fictional school on Gateacre Comp, even the uniforms and badge crest were similar].
My bus stop plays host to 4 bus routes:-
- 192(which morphs into the 217 in the evening) Halewood to City Centre via Kirkby Civic centre and Fazakerly hospital [We're talking a real trip round the houses with this bus. Legend has it that one 192 that left Halewood in 1998 still hasn't reached its destination. Due 2007]
- 74 (previously the 75 until 2 years ago when it was previously the 35) Halewood to City Centre via Penny Lane and Ullet Road [this bus takes about 45 minutes on a good day. Unfortunately there are only 2 good days every year and both of those are Sundays]
- 166 Garston to Belle Vale circular [Totally useless]
- 78 Halewood to City Centre via Wavertree Road and Picton Clock [This bus is the one I normally get into work. It usually takes 30 mins but the route features some handy bus lanes so it usually tends to zoom to its destination]
If I was to get the 166 I would never get to work, similarly the 192 goes round the houses and I would need to set off last year if I intended on getting to the city tomorrow. The 75/74 is a pile of arse and is often caught up in traffic on the busy Smithdown Road commuter route. The 78 is ideal as it supposedly gets to its destination without too much fuss.
There used to be at least two other companies running buses along those routes and, though in frequent, there were enough buses so Mr Commuter didn't really have to worry about when they set off on their journey. Recently, however, one of those companies folded and a rival to Arriva, Stagecoach, took over the routes of Glenvale Transport and basically fucked about with everything.
Stagecoach, in their infinite arsery decided that the 78 wasn't good enough for them to go all the way to Halewood (once greenbelt now housing) and decided to only take their buses to Childwall Fiveways, which is like 5 miles short of the full destination. This is a pile of arse! Especially as the 79 (City Centre to Netherley) is possibly the most frequent service and travels exactly the same route to Childwall Fiveways. Realistically, if you wanted a bus to Netherley you only have to blink and a 79 will appear before you. Yet no one of any calibre lives in Netherley. Netherley is basically an open air prison-cum-1970's sink estate where most of the population drive chavved up VW Golfs and Corsas. Therefore the only bus company out of Halewood these days is Arriva and for some bizarre reason they do not drive buses between the hours of 8am and 8:30am. Meaning that if I need to get the bus I have to leave my house at 7:50 and then take the gamble that the bus driver feels like doing the whole route and not start from Woolton Village rather than Halewood/Mackets Lane.
Its a joke. The level of housing increases, the level of greenbelt decreases [Eeeh when I were a lad all this wuz fields], the frequency of buses decreases and the level of isolation to those whose wives are away with the car increases. Believe it. And don't even think about getting a bus in or out of Halewood after 6pm unless you want to brave the 192 and its magical mystery tour.
So anyway, my point. I am so disgusted with the way that us Suburbanites have been left busless [and for that matter broke because a bus journey which used to cost me 50p in 1993 now costs a stonking £1.30] that I am going to write a letter to Mr Merseytravel. It will go something like this
Dear Mr Merseytravel,
Do you think that's concise and to the point?