Days of Yore and Buses

Why do bus drivers wear hi-viz vests while they are driving their bus ?

I’ve been bothered by this recently and my survey over several weeks has not revealed one bus driver who is NOT wearing a hi-viz vest while driving his/her bus.

What on earth is going to befall a bus driver while driving his bus that a hi-viz vest will prevent, its like me wearing a hi-viz vest to sit at my desk in my office all day, in fact, should I be wearing a hi-viz vest right now, and safety boots, and safety glasses – if that pencil lead breaks it could go straight in my eye you know.

And while we’re on the topic of bus drivers, who made the unilateral decision that we could do without conductors and what happened to all the conductors when they decided that they could do without conductors ?

What other job in the world could you do if you were an ex-conductor cast out into society without a second glance, with no re-training, no counselling, no support group to help ease your way back into normal life, how employable is an ex-bus conductor, not very I assume.

We had a bus conductor on the number 33 to Cookridge when I was a kid – that was a thing that happened in the old days of Leeds City Transport, you’d get on a bus and it would nearly always be the same conductor – this one was and old man, but ram-rod straight, tall and a head of snow-white hair, and a hearing aid.

If you were with your mother at the bus stop and it was his bus that stopped he’d get down off the platform and help all the ladies onto the bus, even if they didn’t want helping onto the bus, if there were old women on the bus he’d take their shopping trolleys off them and stash them under the stairs and then help the old lady find a seat and if there wasn’t a seat he’d cuff the back of the head of some lank youth and tell him, not ask, tell him to stand up and let this old lady sit down.

And he announced all the bus stops as if he was the most incredibly proud bus conductor, as if this was actually his route, as if he had invented the route himself and wanted to tell everyone how good a route it was, I would not have been surprised to find that he was the one at the Leeds City Transport who had designed all of the bus stops on the Cookridge route, personally, so proud was he of his bus stops.

“Horse-pit-tal Lay-ne” he’d announce in a booming voice full of grandeur and then step down off the platform to help the old ladies off the bus who were going to the hospital, “Down there madam, its a long walk though love, your Harold in there again is he ?” and he’d have a long conversation on the pavement while his driver sat there impatiently tapping his fingers on the steering wheel but unable to do anything about it for of course in the days I am speaking of the driver sat in a little enclosed cab at the front and the conductor stood on his open platform at the back and ne’er did the two ever meet except for a fag at the terminus.

“Tins-hill Lay-ne, and the water taar” he’d announce, as if anyone had actually caught his bus in order to visit the water tower, and pubs, he’d announce every pub en route as if the news bore great importance, just in case you’d never noticed before that there was a pub en route, “The Three Horse Shoes” he’d announce and people would quickly glance up from their newspapers and notice for the first time that we were stopping at a bus stop near the Three Horse Shoes and they’d quickly roll up their newspaper and get off for a pint instead of going home for their tea, for thats what men did in those long distant days of yore and rarely did they ring home to let their wives know for there were no telephones in most houses and their wives just burned their tea for them and the men would roll in an hour late, half drunk and declare “What do you mean my tea’s bloody burnt ?” and follow it up with a slurred, “Why?”


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