Monday 13 December 2010

Lesley's Big Adventure

Or ... Public Transport DOES work - sometimes!

Lesley wanted to visit a pal in Church Crookham; and stay for a few days.    Crookham is blessed with an "adequate" local bus service but the lovely Lesley wanted to start from Portsmouth!   This would involve a trek from the far south of Hampshire to the far North.   The usual advice would be, "I wouldn't start from there."  For once the often unreliable traveline and the often out-of-date xephos both agreed on the basic strategy.

So here goes...

1015 from Porstmouth Harbour to Waterlooville (arriving 1046) by First's motorway express route X42.  A brief respite in Waterlooville precinct,

20 minutes to buy a few things in Waitrose then off on Stagecoach service 37 which has arrived from Havant and will trundle off at 1107 to Liss; where, like Cinderella's pumpkin, it turns into a 38 and continues to Alton. Here the timetables provide for a generous one hour and fourteen minutes to explore, to shiver, to enjoy lunch or, perhaps just be bored.

Then it gets a bit exciting.   The next bus (Stagecoach 201 from Alton High Street at 1356) only runs when Alton College is open, although it is not specifically a college journey.   Presumably the link with the College provides enough revenue to make this group of very rural services marginally viable.

Now it gets a bit tricky.   Lesley seemed unclear about the location of her chum's "pad" with reference to bus stops, and Stageocach's time point (Crookham Crossroads) was not at all clear from a street map.   fbb had to resort to Traveline - where, with a degree in thermonuclear physics, it is just possible to find a list of every stop served by the 201.

Further telephonic consultation with Lesley revealed that her friend lived near "the Wyvern" pub - and one of the listed stops was Crookham Wyvern.   So the schedule ends there at approx 1442.

So fbb provides a neatly typewritten schedule for Lesley and then waits on tenterhooks to discover whether the schedule worked; or whether Lesley has disappeared into a Hampshire version of the Bermuda Triangle!

Amazingly both the outward journey and the similar return went without a hitch and, as Lesley is "of mature years" it was all done on her Senior Citizen free pass, so cost her not a bean.   So, much to every one's surprise (especially fbb's), it all worked beautifully - BUT, would the lovely Lesley have been able to do-it-herself?

No way, Jose!  (pronounced "hosay" by the way, so they say!)    Why is public transport so incredibly complicated - and wouldn't it be nice to go back to the good old days of the all-knowing "man in a hut" who actually knows all the answers?   Much, much more reliable than the impersonal world of electronic information!

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