Well over a year ago, our local buses began introducing new ticket machines. As with anything new, it all began rather badly. The bus drivers didn’t seem to have a clue, we passengers were just as clueless and for quite a while, it tended to be a case of ‘get on the bus’, listen to the driver state “We don’t have any tickets!” as you vainly flashed your bus pass in his general direction. I couldn’t quite make out what you were supposed to do with these new fangled ticket machines, and if they didn’t have any tickets, hadn’t installing them on every bus been rather a waste of time?
Kerri in the meantime seemed to have picked up the idea behind them straight away, as she held her pass directly in front of the small window, albeit with no response from the machine for her efforts. All I kept thinking to myself as we journeyed along ticketless was, what if an inspector boarded before realising that I hadn’t actually seen an inspector get on a bus for years.
Slowly over time, the new ticket machines have begun to work as they should. At least I think that they began to work as they should. Firstly, tickets were actually being given in response to you flashing your pass in front of them as you boarded. However, I was bitterly disappointed when at last I was handed one of the new tickets. They are simply a thin squarish waxed piece of paper, with little to commend them. Boring was my initial thought. As a passenger, there’s very little you can do with them once they are in your hand. Compared to their rather colourful predecessors, they are rubbish. How many hours have I happily whiled away my time during my bus journey, absent mindedly rolling those wonderful tickets up into a tight roll between thumb and forefinger in one direction, and then reversing the whole procedure? Or forming them into a smiley or talking mouth for the amusement of my children when they were younger? I can’t possibly do any of that with the new boring bus tickets.
Not that your actually given one every time you board a bus. It’s often the way that you ‘scan’ your pass, only to receive a curt nod from the driver (and a green light from the new ticket machine, that is if its working of course) to indicate that your allowed to continue up the aisle and sit down. Ticketless of course. So, its still all rather confusing, sometimes a ticket is handed over, other times not. Sometimes your pass causes some response from the machine, sometimes not. How are they supposed to work? There has been no information provided about their usage whatsoever for passengers, we’re all obviously supposed to be mind readers or Einstein's, and immediately know exactly what to do. Some drivers have vainly tried to help of course in their own way, though I suspect that most of them haven’t a clue either.
“ Place your pass in front of the machine (or on top as it seems as if, depending on which bus company you board, these new ticket machines are all very different to each other in layout) and it will register it.”
Ahh! Register it! Now the penny begins to drop! Sifting out types of users! Paying and none paying! Pass and none pass! Will it eventually come to pass (pun intended) where we pass holders are only allowed on certain buses at certain times because we don’t add to the bus company’s profits? Will we be relegated to old rusty buses that crawl along at a snails pace to cut costs? Will we be banned from peak time buses, relegated to (what will probably become known as) The Oldies Bus? I know this, there’s always a reason why new gadgets such as these new ticket machines are introduced, and I have that horrible gut feeling that for us pass waving passengers, none of it is good news. We may even arrive at a time when trying to board vainly waving our passes at the driver, all we hear are those well known words uttered by another senior in a land far away….
“You shall not Pass!”