Now, we don't drive. Kellie started, then money got tight, and I lost my nerve after a few incidents... Walking is not always an option - particularly when I'm having a shitty day and it's all I can do to dress myself. Taxis are notoriously expensive, so we don't bother with those...
Which leaves the buses.
On paper, our bus provider in Basildon is brilliant. The main areas of population have 5-10 minute bus services, there are regular 15-25 minute services to the places that are further afield, and there's pretty much nowhere you cannot get to in Basildon with a bus ticket.
The last few months have been what I affectionately refer to as a "complete and utter pissing joke" when trying to get a bus anywhere, and once again, yesterday did not disappoint.
Long Riding has one service that runs along it, between Pitsea to Laindon, stopping at Basildon slap-bang in the middle. According to the timetables, they come along every 9-13 minutes on average. Of late, however, you can be stood for an hour or more (I kid yea not) with no sign of anything even resembling a bus. Then, just to form the basis of a proper stereotype, three will turn up at the same time.
Yesterday, we had to get up to Basildon Hospital for Kellie to have her Echocardiogram, and upon arriving at the bus stop to Basildon, we were greeted with the following:
Yes, that is bloody foggy - the zombies are just out of view. However, the actual scary part is the timetable...Quite how they get this messed up at 9am is beyond me. They've only been running for two and a half hours!!
And this isn't a "Oh, you know, these things happen!" kind of thing... No no, this is a regular, almost daily event. On Monday to Wednesday, it tickles me to watch convoys of buses run to and fro past the house, but Thursdays ad Fridays, I have to take and collect Tam to and from school. THAT, my friends, is a little barrel of stress.
As it is, we leave early in case a bus doesn't turn up - but it's at the point now where the earlier bus doesn't show - so we could leave earlier and then spend half an hour standing around like loons. DON'T leave early, and you run the risk of no bus turning up at all, and being late from school.
In the afternoons, the stress is two-fold... Firstly, if the bus doesn't turn up in time, I run the risk of turning up late for Tam. Secondly, once I have collected her, sitting twiddling our thumbs till gone 4pm in the afternoon, knowing I've got to sort dinner or whatever out...
Invariably, when the buses DO put in an appearance, every person that has been stood waiting for their known adult life has to squeeze onto the bus - there's a reason they are every ten minutes or so, the 8/8A route gets busy - so you've got two or three buses worth of pissed off passengers crammed onto just the one bus.
It makes travelling so very interesting...
The trouble is, when you complain to them, their answers are the same - either new drivers, trying to blame some traffic event somewhere, or buses broken down. I'm sorry, if it's new drivers, then you need to finish training them. Traffic incidents happen every now and then, not daily on the same route. Broken buses - you charge enough for tickets, buy some more! Of course, with First Buses being the ONLY bus provider in the area, they don't give a flying monkey... They know full well it's a case of like it or lump it.
So First Buses in Basildon - you're pissing everyone off. Sort your act out for once!!
Sidenote: We ended up walking to Basildon town center, during which time we didn't see a single bus... Downside - After 15 a little bit, I was exhausted, and remain so even now.