Saturday, November 26, 2011

Who'll join me in savouring the twilight of these prosperous times, when we can all indulge in the freedoms afforded by car ownership ? Let the party roll on and the main-ies continue until the car inevitably careers over the peak oil precipice we've been hooning and doing burnouts around for years. 

The time will come when we'll be forced to join the lowly ranks of the users of public transport. It's a frightening prospect to be over a barrel, reduced to using Brisbane City Council buses, Queensland Rail trains, or god forbid, City Cycle bikes to crawl our way out of the suburbs to the bright lights of the city. 

Taking a trip on a BCC bus is a grim experience, beginning with the jittery paranoia that seizes people as they wait at a bus stop, turning ordinary citizens into agitated clock-watchers, gripped with fear that their service won't show up on time. Or worse, it will wizz straight past in a cloud of hot air, leaving them helpless on the kerb, squinting to read the bus route number that they'll have to wait another hour to catch. "Was that the 360?" one commuter will cry out wildly to no one in particular, "Are you waiting for the 360 too?" she will begin interrogating fellow blank-faced commuters as they tighten their sweaty grip on their GO cards.

When the lucky few whose right bus shows up on schedule, there is the dilemma to hail or not to hail. Hail, and risk being chided by an angry driver for breaking the code of practice when it comes to bus beckoning etiquette. Or don't hail, and risk not getting home, left in a waft of natural gas emissions from a disappearing rear end.

After staring down the driver, hoping he will stop the bus somewhere within running distance of where the passengers are standing, it's a race to clamber aboard before the doors snap shut. Once inside, hands aflutter, the passengers wave GO cards around like a troupe of travelling croupiers, the beeping and flashing of the card reader no less transfixing than the pokies. Meanwhile, the beleaguered bus driver takes command of the wheel, speeding to the next stop, sparing no compassion for the jangling line of commuters lurching up the aisle, falling with their bags and belongings into the nearest available seat. And yet, in a moment, it would appear no great inconvenience has befallen them as each passenger duly fishes their earphones from their bag and plugs into blissful electronica. And that's saying nothing about the ruinous blight on civil society that is the MX!

Mercifully, most of us will arrive at our destination not too adversely affected by the indecencies of BrizVegas public transportation. Although, sometimes, it feels as if the suburban bus interchanges are little more than lawless outpost of civilisation, bereft of humanity, lorded over by itinerant misfits, single mothers and cashed-up Gen Zs bearing iPhones. The future looks bright.

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