Today I want to talk about the single greatest thing that was invented since Google came into my life: The bus app.

The history

When I first heard on the news that they were going to divert part of TFL’s money to pay for these apps which would let you know when a bus was coming, I have to say that I was unimpressed.  My exact reaction was, I didn’t want to pay for something which I was never going to need.  I also thought that people could just do what they had always done, look and see the schedule on the bus stop and then wait.  After all that is why they have the bus shelters and seats.

I was wrong. 

After moving to an area where I had to rely on buses to take me to a train station, I realised firstly how long it was not to have a tube a seven minute walk away. Secondly that I had not really thought about the fact that though I lived in a nice area, it was the most rural I had ever found myself.  And thirdly, I confirmed how rubbish buses actually were for relying on getting anywhere.  I was a train and tube person transformed to being a bus person and it was new kind of life.

What to do….

Enter the first edition of the bus app.  I downloaded it from the app store, all the time admitting to myself that I was a hypocrite but that needs must. And needs did.  Suddenly from randomly trying to adjust my time so that I was at the bus stop not too late but not too early so that I would have to wait outside, I found myself walking to the bus stop and basically doing it with such ease that I only had to wait a minute or two before the bus came.  Perfect.

The upgrade

Later, I upgraded to Citymapper and it was just even more greater than words.   I could not only check my bus, but my careful calculation, I could also check to see if I would make the second bus which would take me straight to the station. Or check the time of the train to see if I should walk up to the station instead.  Suddenly a bad situation got better.

Now I am no promoter of Citymapper but I have to attest to its helpfulness.  It does not mean that I don’t sometimes miss the connections.  Nor does it mean that the bus driver is suddenly going to speed up the bus (sometimes they just drive sooooo slowly).  Or that he/she won’t sit at a bus stop for a long time because they are early (a qualm for a different time). But it does mean that I have reduced waiting times.

It also mean that after I get off at the train station after work, I can check my app and then run or walk down to the bus stop. Thereby insuring that I do not have to wait twenty minutes for the next bus if I can help it.

And on weekends when I go and visit a friend by tram, instead of leaving her house and waiting at the tram stop for ages, I can time my five minute journey perfectly so that I am waiting just one minute.   

No qualms?

Well… I have had some times when the app has decided to not work.  Or when it says that the bus will be twenty minutes and I have gone back home, only to see the bus rolling past like a gangster. 

It also doesn’t take away from the fact that buses are still rubbish.  I would prefer if I had the choice to ditch the bus and go back to knowing that the tube was frequent enough that I only had a five minute wait at worst.

But when all is said and done, the app makes my life a whole lot easier.  And for that I am thankful.

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