The Bus Users’ Alphabet

East of the M60’s entry for National Poetry Day

6809 Leyland Atlantean TWH 809K, Frederick Road, Salford
A real bus in a real livery. Need I say more…

East of the M60 – or rather, the genius behind the aforementioned blog has neglected National Poetry Day. At least till today. Without further ado, here’s a piece I first wrote on the 08 September 2009 (though in keeping with today’s bus routes, with a few ‘minimal changes’ in the grammar and timekeeping department).

Any resemblance to contemporary operating conditions is purely coincidental.

*                       *                      *

A is for Approximate, a get-out clause to justify later running.

B is for Bunching, several buses at once caused by congestion.

C is for Conductor, largely an anachronism thanks to one-man operation.

D is for Deregulation, an insane system that saw the decimation of less glamorous routes.

E is for Early, a bigger pain in the ass than late running.

F is for Fiction, which in some quarters best describes the timetable.

G is for Garage, where the buses ‘sleep’ after hours.

H is for Hail and Ride: great for passengers in residential areas but a pain for drivers in a hurry.

I is for Information, sometimes non-existent in the sticks unless you have a smartphone.

J is for Joint Service between companies, obsolescent since competition was the notion.

K is for the Knype bodied Leyland Swift, virtually unloved by all.

L is for Leyland, home of the above, the Atlantean and the Leopard.

M is for Midland Red, a great company missed and dismantled by the Tories.

N is for Night Bus, a cheap though not always cheerful way of leaving Manchester on a Friday night.

O is for Overground, a sexy way of promoting frequent bus routes minus reference to buses.

P is for Patience, a necessary virtue whilst waiting for less profitable services.

Q is for Queueing, not only etiquette, it was once enshrined into law.

R is for Rover, Runabout or Rambler: popular names for day saver tickets.

S is for Stand, Stage and Stance; where one buys a ticket from a point listed alphabetically or numerically.

T is for Terminus, the end of, or interchange of any journey.

U is for Unreliable, a sweeping adjective or truthful statement of any one or a selection of routes.

V is for Validity, as in a season ticket or concessionary pass.

W is for Withdrawal, as in the loss of unremunerative routes.

X symbolises the abbreviated form for express routes, often prefixing service numbers.

Y is for Young Persons, who in their formative years play One Direction on their iPhones, though could be future bus users. (More likely “yeah right” by 17 once they’ve seen the car keys).

Finally, Z as in Zone, an alternative fare structure to that of stages using crude boundaries.

*                       *                      *

Before I go…

A nice question for other bus loving poets.

A Haiku has three lines, with the first and third lines having five syllables. The second line has seven syllables. Which modern day Greater Manchester bus route shares the same set of numbers as a Haiku?

Award yourself a point for correctly guessing the route number, another two for stating its starting and finishing points, and extra points for 1) each intermediate destination; and 2) its operator(s). Answers will appear on the East of the M60 Facebook page if unresolved a week from this posting. Good luck!

S.V., 02 October 2014.


2 thoughts on “The Bus Users’ Alphabet

Add yours

  1. 575 -Operator Arriva Wigan-Bolton
    Whelley, Aspall, Blackpool, Horwich, Middlebrook, Lostock, Heaton.
    How many points do I get for this, Stuart?
    Not bad for an old timer who doesn’t usually go further than Ashton!
    Ps. I tried doing Haikus -but was a bit rubbish!
    xx Yvonne


    1. Hi Yvonne,

      (I know you’re familiar with the blog as a reader but) Welcome to East of the M60 (also as a commenter).

      Firstly, the bus number, its starting and finishing points, and one of the operators is correct. Therefore, four points.

      A further six points out of seven for the intermediate stops. ‘Blackpool’ should read ‘Blackrod’.

      In all, you scored 10 points out of 13. The other two operators are South Lancs Travel and First Greater Manchester. ‘Aspall’ should be ‘Aspull’, but I shall let you off on the slight spelling mistake.

      Bye for now,



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