Thursday, 3 March 2011

Brisbane buses

I am sharing with you the best Letter to the Editor I have ever read in The Courier Mail. It was featured today and it is about the sorry state of Brisbane's public transport system and the lack of courtesy that some students exhibit. 

It is also the reason why Jason now drives to work after 20 years struggling with the Bombay Bus Service (his words, not mine) and why I avoid buses like the plague. 
This letter describes perfectly how we feel whenever we use the bus. If you like, imagine dapper, suit-wearing Jason (as opposed to the shirtless one that you all know and love) on his way to work in the City as you read it...  

Sweet images of revenge
AS the crammed bus jerks nauseatingly along the Western Freeway towards Indooroopilly, murderously childish intentions flicker in my mind like a movie of sweet commuter revenge.
With my work gear clutched between my legs, fingers grasping for the nearest pole to break a fall, my back aching and my work uniform clinging to me, I plan and plot my revenge.
See that schoolboy slouching in the seat to my front. I walk past and flick that stupid wicker hat off his red hair. I do the same to all the other schoolboys who take up the seats along the aisle. Flick, flick, flick.
See that university student with the green concession go card that gives her discounted fares. I will punt that $2500 notebook computer out of her grasp or accidentally dislodge the USB connecting her sleek iPod, probably with the aid of my blue go card, the expensive one for workers on medium wages who don't own any of the above technology because their money goes on bus fares.
See those schoolgirls, giggling and whispering in a group of chairs, watching as I struggle to surf around a corner. Out goes my foot as they depart the bus. Trip, trip, trip.
The grey-haired grandmother standing behind me and the pregnant woman cheer as I block the way of the young school children rising from their seats.
Soon enough, we reach Indooroopilly and I realise I am 34 years old and beyond such adolescent antics. Still, as they stream past me and my sore feet, I grin to myself.
Briohny Dixon, Fig Tree Pocket  letter from here

Briohny for Lord Mayor!!!


  1. That wouldn't happen in Canberra! Then again, nobody uses the public transport here :)

  2. Priceless! Briohny, you're my hero!!! I don't think the Courier-Mail online has letters to the editors. I'd love to do a big Shout Out to Briohny. You Go Girl!!!

  3. I had to catvh the bus to school for 5 years, and it turned me off for life. This was in the 80s, things must have changed because we certainly had to stand up for adults though and if we didn't people would ring the school and dob us in and we'd be humiliated in assembly. I am horrified kids don't stand up for adults now!

  4. Briohny has my vote in the next election! I try & avoid public transport, I'm just not emotionally equipped for it.

  5. She hit the nail on the head. Sometimes I think I'm a grumpy old woman, but school children on buses are generally obnoxious and disrespectful.

    And I get the impression that bus drivers don't care what happens on their shift.

    I detest public transport.

  6. Yes, I'm not a fan of buses. For me to get to work on a bus, I have to catch two and it takes about an hour and about $6-8 I think. Whereas if I drive my tiny car it takes about 10 minutes and costs about $2. No competition.

  7. Public transport in this city is appalling. I drive, sometimes for an hour in a half, to travel 30kms. Which is in preference to a train trip with training materials and no seat or a non-existent direct bus service.

  8. For 3 years, I relied on public transport to get me to uni. Sometimes it would take two hours from the time I left home to the time I walked into the lecture theatre. I hated every second of it. I once had a school kid throw a ruler at my head, so from then on I avoided the 3pm trains.

  9. Very funny. But also sad because why have this generation not learnt what we all did. The simple respect of giving up your seat for an elder, etc. Someone has failed them is it them or their example that are to blame?

  10. Filbert Street Girl4 March 2011 at 10:55

    I totally understand where Briohny is coming from BUT in my perspective this problem is easily fixed. Ask them nicely to stand up. If they don't then get firm or speak to the bus driver. Since when do children hold so much power in society? I thought it was a rule of catching Brisbane City Council buses that students stand when the bus is full? Sorry, my memory isn't great - I've been living in San Francisco for the last three years catching dirty, graffiti covered buses with drunks, drug addicts, transients and trying hard not to catch ring worm and hepatitis. Yes, it really is that bad. Mind you, it's cheaper than Brisbane and I'm sure I'll complain just as much as Brionhy when I get back home...but I won't be standing while I do it!

  11. Hi I just thought I'd pop in and let you know a I was so impressed with the bus system in Brisbane when I last visited my sister in Ashgrove from Sydney. I missed my flight to Brisbane and the next only got me as far to Gold Coast where after stepping outside caught my first bus to a railway station to take me to Central. From there I caught a bus to Ashgrove. The bus was so clean, cheap and efficient and trouble free. Next day caught another-same thing.Each bus is gorgeous. Brisbane has the best bus system I have ever experienced. I also love how easy it is to get to the Brisbane airport. Our Sydney airport is a nightmare to get to. In some areas of Sydney the bus journey is downright scary with things being thrown at poor bus drivers heads, and bullying behaviours displayed by people at odds with their world and each other etc. Brisbanites I'd hop on one of your buses anyday and have a quiet word to the kids -'there is a lady who looks like she might like to sit down' or 'lets give that tired worker a seat'etc.Let us be reminded that kids can learn from their wise elders when they reasonably speak up not by just ineffectually fantatising about getting revenge.

  12. Well, as the mother of a teenage school boy who takes the public bus, I do find that a little offensive....I mean, I put my son on the bus with the hopes that he is safe. In all honesty, I hope and pray that I've taught him to stand up for elders etc etc but as I am not there to monitor, I have no idea (and no, he is not of the wicker hat brigade!) . I can only pray that he would show respect although from what he tells me it is very rare for him to actually get a seat.

    Having said that, the issue is with the BCC and not putting enough buses on to cater for the school pick up. We live approx 40 minutes from school on a good car drive, yet despite the fact that he leaves school at 3.10, he has sometimes not been home until 5.30 as there are only a few council buses that leave from his school and if he misses them or if they are overcrowded and therefore he is not allowed on, he has to walk to the main road. It absolutely infuriates me that our children are in this position but as I work I cannot be there to pick him up and have to make do with an awful system!

    So, I guess that before we perform spiteful acts on these kids, we need to teach them that, as adults, we can use manners. I know that if someone asked my son to stand up, he would. He is a good boy, although let's face it...a teenager!

    And don't get me started on the overworked, overstressed bus drivers. They are just another story altogether!

  13. Oh and just wanted to add that we have nothing to complain about really. Try catching a bus in Rome. Omg! Sardines squashed in a can is an understatement. I remember standing there thinking that the driver could not possibly stop for another person and when he did I wondered where they were going to go...on the roof perhaps!!!! But no, we all squashed in even more and let me just say that I have never felt complete strangers that intimately before in my life! Thank God my husband was on one side of me! Rofl!

  14. Blame the schools and bus drivers if this is happening! I haven't caught a bus for ages but when I used to catch one for my 45 minute commute to an inner city Brisbane school, we were NEVER allowed to sit down whilst full-fare paying adults were standing. First of all, it was a school rule and secondly, the bus driver used to yell at us to get up if anybody dared to sit... Of course this was a very long time ago so I'm sad to hear that things are so different now. It's probably best to call the schools to complain...

  15. Thanks for all your great comments!

    Let me just say I did not share the letter to encourage violence against concession paying students!!! I'm sorry if it offended you.

    I liked Briohny's letter because it voices a frustration that many commuters feel when using public transport (which is filled to maximum capacity). And I love pieces which are written imaginatively and tongue-in-cheek.

    It is true you can ask concession paying students to give up their seat if you have paid full fare.

    I think the point of the letter is that common courtesy today is no longer extended to others. Courtesy should be given willingly and without question. When we need to demand it, it is no longer courtesy.

    Like Kitty, as students we used to give up our seats on the bus to adults. It was a given and we never expected to be asked. At my old school we had a strict head mistress who'd shame those who were caught taking a seat. Bless her!

    Allertons, I'm very glad you had a good experience on the Ashgrove line, especially as you were a visitor. And true, our public transport could be worse...

    As a resident, Brisbane buses can be hit and miss depending on what suburb you live in and when you travel.

    Full-to-the brim buses or scheduled services which don't show up are a constant source of frustration where we live and was the main reason why Jason drives to work.

    That's just our personal experience though...and I'm quite certain we're not alone.

  16. There are only two things wrong with public transport:

    The Public


    The Transport.

    Things have gone down hill since Inspector Blake retired.

    "That's made my day, that 'as."

  17. Showing your age there Mr Rooney.

  18. I might have been a bit biased, as I had one of those green student fare cards, but I recall that public transportation was pretty good. Here in los Angeles, riding the bus like being in the third world.

  19. I've caught the bus to work and home again for 17 years. That's right 17 years. I've paid my dues on the damn things.

    At 9 months pregnant the thing that is super annoying is an able bodied person sitting in the "Vacate for Pregnant Woman Seat"

    I just tell them to stand up, and they do.

    My suburb is a weird "destination" suburb for things like coffee and boutiques and machester. I feel that priority seating, service and parking should be given to those of us who live within its crowded confines and who have paid our dues on the unmitigated hell that is the 374 and 375 bus service.

  20. Public transport = slow, uncomfortable, annoying etc.

    Cars = expensive, slow, infuriating etc.

    Cycling = cheap, faster (in peak hour), fun and good for you.

    Why people don't cycle more is beyond me. No, COMPLETELY beyond me.


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