Mairi Gordon on bus travel: beam me up Scotty

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

I could have travelled to France in the time it took to escape the East Fife Mail’s circulation area.

I’ve had a thought which puts my commute into grim perspective.

It takes less time to fly across the United Kingdom than it does to get the bus across the Kingdom of Fife.

In fact when I made the mistake of boarding a ‘slow bus’ from Leven to St Andrews on an ill-fated bid to visit mum and dad I could have travelled to France in the time it took to escape the East Fife Mail’s circulation area.

Though I was treated to some on-bus entertainment courtesy of a teenager who can do an uncannily good impersonation of a horse – hilarious for the first five minutes, less so after an hour.

Don’t get me wrong... there are some benefits of bus travel. For example your bus pass doesn’t only earn you unlimited travel but also unlimited smugness, after all you are saving the planet one commute at a time.

And who doesn’t love to be a back-seat driver, clucking impatiently when the driver takes a wrong turn and gasping dramatically when the bumper gets bashed – it’s a little like being the chorus in a really dull pantomime.

And, should your iPod run out of battery, you can always feign sleep while listening to you fellow traveller’s conversations with total impunity.

Plus it’s a relatively cheap option and, most importantly, I can’t actually drive yet and am as close to getting my own car as Jeremy Clarkson is to chaining himself to a tree in an anti-motorway protest.

But day after day of winding through Fife on a bus, which seems somehow to be even colder than the air outside, with a sneaky hot water bottle tucked inside your coat can get a little wearing.

So I was disappointed to hear plans for Fife’s hovercraft have run aground. There’s no guarantee a hovercraft would be any warmer than a bus but I’m sure it would be faster.

But the daily commute has given me plenty of time to dream up some high-speed transport alternatives.

A Fife underground, a lightning speed monorail, a fleet of coast-to-coast motor boats or a squadron of micro-light planes perhaps?

In India a network of space-age looking white globs called pod cars, which are a bit like a cross between an ordinary car and a horizontal lift, is being planned for the ancient city of Amritsar.

So why do we Scots find ourselves still stuck at the back of a shuddery-juddery bus? After all if the latest Star Trek film is anything to go by we should have an edge when it comes to engineering the next generation of high speed travel. It was after-all our very own ‘Scotty’ who solved the mystery of transwarp beaming. Perhaps we just need a little more out of the box (or bus) thinking to link up our villages, towns and cities, and make crossing the Kingdom a little less of a trek.

But for now I guess it’ll just have to be a return to Leven and warp speed if you please bus driver.

*Mairi Gordon writes for the East Fife Mail