The mysterious vanishing bus. An adventure.

I sent this email to the Unobus General Manager last week. Not even so much as an acknowledgement.

Dear Mr Finn.

I’d like to tell you about my journey home yesterday, which turned out to be quite an adventure. Depending, of course, on your definition of adventure.

I was due, as is often the case, to take the 16:08 service from Hatfield Forum to Stevenage. That’s route 635/625, Michael, but I expect you know that. As I eagerly awaited my bus, I wondered whether this would be a smooth journey. More often that not, Michael, it is. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that.

When the bus picked me up it was rather exciting. It was a bendy bus, Michael! I don’t get to travel on a bendy bus very often. They are so very long! And bendy! I knew that my excitement would be short-lived, however, as I understand that the meanies who operate Stansted Airport won’t allow you to take bendy buses there (the spoilsports) and sure enough our cheery driver informed as all that we’d be swapping to a different bus at the T-Mobile stop. Ah, well, I thought, at least I’ll get the pleasure of this short bendy ride before switching. And I know from past experience that when we need to do a bus swap, the new bus is always waiting our arrival.

But wait! What is this? There’s no bus waiting for us!

And so we disembarked (remember that word, Michael, I may redefine it later) and the driver said the replacement bus would be along ‘any minute’ before remarking that he was off to have his dinner. Which I expect was delicious. Mine was, too, when I eventually got home.

Now, Michael, I wonder if you can imagine this. We’d disembarked (that word again) with the promise of a replacement bus picking us up ‘any minute’. It was cold in that bus stop, let me tell you. Ten minutes passed. Not a sign. Fifteen minutes. As my legs began to shiver, I thought I’d at least try your customer service line to see if anyone would know where our replacement bus was. I have to say, Michael, I didn’t have much confidence that anyone would answer, as it’s not uncommon for it to just ring and ring. (Which is why I have your own office number stored in my phone as well. You know, just in case.) But you’ll never guess what… someone did answer! It was a lovely surprise, that. And not only did someone answer, Michael, but when she put me through to the garage the chap I spoke to there seemed to know we were waiting. He assured me that we hadn’t been ‘just dumped’; even better than that, he assured me that he’d seen the bus we were waiting for ‘just leaving the garage now’. Well, what a relief, Michael: soon we would be nestled cosily in a nice warm, unbendy, bus on our way home.

Can you tell this story isn’t finished yet? Sorry to keep you so long, Michael. But it won’t be nearly as long as we were kept waiting.

Another ten minutes passed. Now, I can’t picture exactly where your garage is but I know it’s very close to that cold T-Mobile stop. So I rang again. And it was answered again, which was lovely. But here’s the thing, and this is where the story gets a little confusing, to be frank, Michael. That bus he’d seen leaving the garage? It wasn’t our bus at all! Can you believe it? No, no, he’d seen a pink bus leaving the garage (they are so very pink, aren’t they, Michael?) and assumed it must be the one he happened to be talking about. No, no, that bus was going somewhere else. And to be fair, he was very apologetic about misleading me like that. But the whereabouts of our replacement bus still seemed to be an unsolvable mystery. How do you manage to lose a bus, Michael? No-one knew where it was, or when it would reach us. Apparently there was a driver, somewhere. But no bus.

Now, the whereabouts of the missing replacement bus was beginning to be a bit academic by now, as the next scheduled bus was due to come past any minute and would surely pick us up. Well, it did do that, Michael – although for entirely unrelated reasons that was running late, too. And of course that next bus is a 625 rather than a 635, which was fine for me, bound for Stevenage, but I did feel for those poor passengers who were actually heading for Baldock. All the way home I wondered if the replacement 635 would ever be found and pick them up, or whether they had to wait even longer to the next scheduled service.

Well, I did tell you it was an adventure, Michael. Though sadly not an exciting one.

Remember when I said we ‘disembarked’, earlier? And how the chap at the garage assured me we hadn’t been ‘just dumped’. Well, frankly Michael, after 45 minutes in that cold bus stop that’s exactly what it felt like. Your bus company dumped a load of passengers in a bus stop and left them waiting in the cold for 45 minutes for a bus that I’m not sure I believe was ever coming.

That’s not acceptable, Michael.

Trevor Coultart

If I ever get a reply, I’ll let you know.


Update: Still no acknowledgement, so I’ve sent a brief follow-up


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