With Thomas Heatherwick’s new London buses being introduced this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about buses and public transportation in general.
Despite the fact that I’ve lived in ‘public transport’-friendly cities like New York and Amsterdam, on some level my LA-ness will always bring a certain distaste for it to the surface… The slowness, the array of disturbing too-human odors, the proximity to People (with a capital ‘P’) and the lack of control are all concomitant with taking a bus or metro.
But there are precious rare times when magic (not ‘shit’) happens on public transport, like getting ‘the best seat in the house’ in a citywide sense.
For instance, on several occasions, I was en-route home from the office, when I discovered masses of irritated, stranded Londoners spilling out from the nearest Tube station (‘oh no, yet another snag in the Underground works’). So I was forced to hike up to the closest bus stop and wait for that familiar #7.
Seven is indeed a lucky number. That’s the bus that makes its way down Oxford Street, through Oxford Circus, into Marble Arch, Paddington, Westbourne Grove and then Notting Hill. Luckier still is finding the crème de la crème ‘balcony’ seats empty. You know the ones. On level two of the double-decker bus, front row centre.
So, shoes on railing, legs inappropriately scrunched up, head back, mp3 player blasting, I cruised down that nighttime stunner, Oxford Street, watching snapshots of beautiful London woosh by. I took in the Victorian details–mouldings and sculptures–that I would never have perceived from ‘down there.’ During the holidays, I found myself virtually at eye level with the festive lights and decorations hung high away from pedestrian sight lines.
Meanwhile, some ethereal, moody ’90s tune or other like ‘Champagne Supernova’ by Oasis was my spacey, chillout soundtrack. As I jokingly said to one of my mates when she said she was opting to take the bus home, ‘Have fun thinking deeply about your life.’
It doesn’t get any better than this pensive and aesthetic journey… Sometimes it does get worse, when another passenger signals with their looming form, that they’d like to nab the seat next to mine (how dare they–I’m a season ticket holder!) Alas, I’ve mostly been lucky in this respect (long legs–the perfect ‘velvet rope’ so to speak).
Then there’s this moment when you almost forget that you’ve been inconvenienced by the tube closure. As the bus driver takes advantage of a few empty blocks to pick up speed, there’s a fleeting thrill…and a few seconds–just enough time to completely let go.
Read Other Expat Articles:
Single on de Singel: When I First Moved to Amsterdam
The Decision to Move Abroad: Feel the Thrill, Feel the Fear
From Accidental Tourist to Purposeful Resident: Impromptu Moves Abroad
The Love Affair With Place