The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

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3:50pm on Monday, 12th October, 2009:

9am Start


The university is on the other side of Colchester to where I live. Normally, it takes around 20 minutes to drive there from my house. However, if I want to get there for 9am, it'll take an hour or more.

My lectures on Monday begin at 9am.

OK, so today is the first day of teaching for this academic year at the gloriously late-starting University of Essex. I was planning to set off at maybe 7:45 or so, which would mean either I would get there ridiculously early (having avoided getting stuck in the school run traffic) or just in the nick of time (having failed to avoid it). Except, today there's a bus strike.

My younger daughter goes to school by bus. If the bus isn't running, I have to take her there. However, if I do take her there, I will not be able to get to the university for 9am.

Hmm, well what we did was set off at 7:35. I took her to the house of a friend of hers who lives near the school, so she could set off half an hour later and walk there. Then, I headed off for the university.

The drive wasn't all that bad, and I did indeed arrive ridiculously early (giving me time to do things like, oh, write a QBlog post). Judging by the traffic waiting on the hill outside the university to get into Colchester from the other side of town, another 10 minutes would have seen me ensnared and I'd have been sitting in my car watching the clock creep ever-closer to 9am and wondering if I'd actually be standing in front of students at the appointed time.

Of course, the fact that there's a bus strike may have made it worse, as people who would ordinarily travel by public transport were taking the car instead. Next week, when there's no strike planned, it may not be anywhere near as bad as it looked like it was getting today. Then again, there are another 3 or 4 strikes planned in October and November, all on Mondays, so maybe it won't be a whole lot different...

The strike is because the bus company has frozen wages, claiming that it can't afford to give drivers a pay rise this year. The bus drivers say that bus travel isn't badly hit by recessions, and that the companies owe it to their drivers to help them out in these straitened times. I'd be more impressed with this argument if we weren't in a period of deflation at the moment, and if raising drivers' wages wouldn't mean raising bus fares to cover the cost, thereby hurting those who really were in trouble financially. Still, this is why I'm not a union leader (well, that and the fact I'm not from Scotland or Liverpool, which seems to be a requirement for union leaders).

I wonder if it's possible for the council to allow regular traffic to use bus lanes when there's a strike? After all, if the buses aren't using them, why can't we? At the very least, it might be fun watching bus drivers trying to picket them.

Referenced by Transport Awareness.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).