Within two minutes of reaching a bus stop I realised why I hardly ever use the service.
It was Friday, royal wedding day, and surely a good time to mix with strangers while we were all grateful to William and Kate for the day off.
Information at the bus stop told me all I needed to do was phone a special number, input the number of the stop and a voice would tell me when the next bus was due. Blimey. Reading Buses had discovered technology.
I phoned the number and a voice told me it was a Bank Holiday and there was no information.
It turned out there was a Sunday service operating. Had the message said that then I could have worked out when the bus was due from the timetable.
For £1.70 I got a jouney to somewhere near where I was going. Then coming back I noticed the £1 to town sign (pictured) at the stop in Hemdean Road, Caversham near the library.
There was only one problem. Buses from this stop don’t go to town. They go to Caverham Heights and Emmer Green. I asked the driver if it was £1. He said it’s £1.70. I told him it says £1 on the bus stop. He grunted and I put £1.70 in the metal thing.
A nearby stop also says it’s just £1 to go to town. It was also going the wrong way.
Twenty odd years ago I used Reading Buses regularly and always felt they were useless.
Now, a generation on, and they are still useless. They have technology but use it badly. If I learned anything from catching the bus on Friday, it was that firms can have the greatest ideas and the most advanced systems but if they don’t use them properly and if they are sloppy about their image, they may as well not bother.
The trouble is there is no alternative for most people.
Most just do what I do and get back in their cars.