18 May was meant to be crunch day, with services up and running towards some kind of normal. An expected rise in passenger numbers.
I’m not at work and don’t hear anything to suggest a dramatic change has happened. The next morning at 0430 the bus is definitely busier. But I can still socially distance and now I have a crappy surgical mask. How effective, I don’t know. It’s a pain. It makes my glasses steam up and I really want to scratch my nose.
When I flag down the bus, I wave at the driver, I say “morning” as I board, when I leave, I shout “thank you” and we wave as I get off. Before the crisis, this level of chat with the bus driver was reserved for outside London, where you can leave via the front door. We may not all be in it together, but transport workers now know we have a lot in common.
I work the whole week with the same person every morning. It makes it easier to sort out who can leave early on which days. O is still driving in, while parking is free and mileage is being paid.
We get our first customer complaining. “Why can I not pay cash?”
“They have stopped that at most stations now. You can use cash in some places and also top up at the shop just there”.
“So it is free is it”?
“No, as I said…”
“Stupid. What am I meant to do? I always use cash”
“I appreciate that but as I’ve said…”
“What are you going to do if I just walk through the gate?”
“Well nothing, but as I said…”
I look on as the customer walks through, I sit back down and get back to trying to find an episode of “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue” I haven’t already heard. There are mixed views about going cashless. “Stops the vagrants” someone says. “We don’t have to mess about with cash round the back, fewer mistakes, less aggro customers with lost money”. “They’ll come for jobs though. If we don’t have money to deal with, they’ll say they don’t need all of us”.
It isn’t noticeably busier until later in the week. My station doesn’t have any security marshals dealing with the feared crowds. I see several elsewhere, sometimes in the station itself, one at a lift.
“Maximum 5 in the lift” says the sign. Not sure where that figure has come from, and no one is standing 2m apart while they wait for it to turn up.
Poor guy, standing underground all day just directing people to a lift. He shouldn’t even be in the depths of the station to begin with.