Friday 22 July 2011


Going on buses is not something I do a lot of because I have the good fortune to have a car...and I'm lazy.

But recently I used a bus to get into town and I couldn’t believe my eyes at the price of tickets.

The fares information from National Express who “run” (and I use the word in its loosest sense) our buses (in their best interests) is as follows:

Cash fares are based upon 'fare stages' – the fare is calculated dependent upon the number of 'fare stages' in the journey.

Each bus route is split into a number of these fare stages, each one of which contains on average 3 bus stops. The fare goes up each time a new stage in reached.

Buses have an exact fare policy and the driver cannot give change, so you’re stuffed if you only have a tenner.

For children the fares are: 1 stage, 70p; 2-3 stages 90p 4+ stages, £1. For adults the respective fares are: £1.20, £1.60 and £2.00.

To be fair to them a child’s day ticket can be bought for £2.00 and an adult one for £3.00. But can you imagine the not unlikely scenario of a mum and dad and 2 children wanting to go downtown? The return journey, even using the day tickets, will cost £10.00.

On the other hand, from anywhere within Dundee the average family car can make the journey to the centre of town and back at a maximum of between 50p and £1.50 in petrol, and I’ve never been unable to find a space in the free car park at Gallagher’s shopping centre. The net saving is for our average family is, therefore, at least £8.50!

So what kind of sense does it make to struggle with you purchases on the bus when you can drive into town for a fraction of the bus cost?

And the added advantage is you miss the surly attitude of the typical National Express bus driver and the likelihood of having to sit on a seat that some ned has had his dirty feet on, next to a old nechter who’s spent the lunchtime in the pub and whose breath would strip paint.

But please note that dogs travel free, so if any canines are reading this.... you know what to do!

Just a thought!


  1. How hilariously put Tris! I also get the bus in Dundee and to be fair there are two companies running them. One is National Express that you mention, where surly and disagreeable seem to be job essentials for their drivers, the other is Sir Brian’s Stagecoach. Now I’m not a fan of His Sirness, whose homophobia prompted him to fund that private referendum on not getting rid of Mrs Thacher’s clause whatever it was, but his busses are, to be, fair much nicer and better run. I think NE’s problem is that they are awful to their staff, who also have a hangover from the Dundee corporation and form when they ran the company themselves as an employee buy-out. Needless to say that unlike Edinburgh’s busses as soon as the employees sniffed the hint of a profit they sold out in the early nineties. Now the company would be worth an even more obscene amount of money, shame they never hung on, no wonder they are so surly!

  2. Yes Munguin, Soutar's buses are better. The staff are more friendly, the vehicles cleaner, and of course they seem to have conductors most of the time which lessens the strain on the drivers.

    Of course National Express is a terrible company to work for and the job must be incredibly awful to do.

    Driving a massive bus, often filled with rude people, who seem to expect the driver to get out and help them onto the bus with their bugggy and shopping and three recalcitrant toddlers; bouncing about on bumpy, pot hole filled, overcrowded roads, through spaces far too narrow for them, and all for less than the average wage, isn't most people's idea of a dream job.

    Have you noticed too, how often these buses have screeching brakes, which are annoying as they pass you, or for the 5 minutes you are on them? Imagine driving all day with that... And, how well are they maintained in otehr ways?

    I dunno if Soutar pays better, but he certainly maintains better buses.

    But the main point here is the cost to the traveller. If the government in Edinburgh wants us to use buses instead of cars, then they had better be in negotiations with the government in London to get more more money for them.

    In my opinion they should never have been privatised. If it was to encourage more competition, it hasn't worked. There were two companies before; there are two companies now. I don't know what the fares were back in the day, but I'll bet it wasn't £3 for a return to the town.

  3. I remember when I first came to Dundee in 1977, being amazed by the signs in the buses which read "No Smoking. No Spitting."

    What on earth kind of place is this, I wondered, where people have to be told not to spit on the bus.

  4. Here in the states, smoking generally replaced spitting. And before that, use of the spittoon or cuspidor generally replaced floors for spitting purposes.

  5. LOL Craig. Welcome to Munguin's Republic.

    It should, I suppose, be a given that you don't spit on the bus, but it seems that back in the day, at least in Dundee, people needed to be reminded that they were not still in the bar. I certainly remember these signs from when I was a kid, although at some time they must have disappeared, either because they no longer served any purpose, or because they never had.

    Wasn't there some sort of a fine if you were caught spitting...?

    And wasn't the "No Smoking" only on the lower deck?

  6. If you expect to rate as a gentleman
    Do not expectorate on the floor

    Ha ha, Danny. That wouldn't have worked here. There isn't a hope in hell that anyone would have understood the word "expectorate".

    I have a feeling that once upon a time there may have been spittoons in bars here.

    I'm not sure which is the more disagreeable to non participants, smoking or spitting, and I have some sympathy for the old Dundee Corporation in their desires to stamp it out on their transport.

  7. I have started to use the bus occasionally, as there is a half hourly service into Derby. It is one of the few bonuses of advancing years that I don't have to pay today's extortionate fare. When I last used the service regularly it was a shilling for a single and 1/11 for a return.

    But it has the drawback, discovered by the late Lord Curzon of Kedleston (who was an able politician, born too late for the country to accept a peer as prime minister - so was made Viceroy of India as a consolation prize).

    In conversation with colleagues, he spoke of "the man on the Clapham omnibus".

    "George, You've never been on a bus in your life" he was told.
    "O yes I have" he said "and they're no use at all. I got on one and said "Take me to the Carlton Club" and the buggers wouldn't go".

    In his younger days it was written of him

    "My name is George Nathaniel Curzon.
    I am a most superior person.
    My cheek is pink, my hair is sleek.
    I dine at Blenheim twice a week".

    But he never lost the flat "a" of his Derbyshire upbringing - no tripping down the pahth to the cahstle to take a bahth for him.

    Seriously though - if I go on saving the planet like this, the government is going to find some means of raising the tax I am no longer paying on petrol.

  8. Ha ha Mr Spalton.

    That reminds me of a story (perhaps apocryphal) of Queen Victoria's last living niece (and great aunt to Elizabeth), who lived in Kensington palace. Well into her nineties and a little 'eccentric', she was pretty much monitored. However one day she managed to get out of the palace alone and decided to go shopping. She'd heard of buses and of course she'd seen them as she was driven around, so she waited at the stop and mounted the first one that came along... and directed its driver to: "Take me to Harrods", which, in these more respectful days (the 1980s) he did, doubtless to the dismay of other passengers who hadn't paid to go that way!