21 TfL bus announcements that would improve Londoners lives more than ‘Hold on, the bus is about to move’

A London bus, inadvertently annoying everyone on board, yesterday.

Poor old Transport for London: they just wanted to suggest to people that it is safer to hold on when the bus is about to move away from the stop, and now every Londoner with an internet connection is using it to yell at them.

Not only is the new safety announcement, currently to be heard on all London buses, slightly patronising for anyone who has, say, used any form of wheeled transportation before, but it suffers from a technical fault. Passengers are treated to a rendition of “Please hold on, the bus is about to move” repeatedly throughout their journey, regardless of whether the bus is actually about to move or not.

If TfL really think buses need yet another announcement to break up the monotony of a bus journey, here are few bits of advice we think some people could really do with an occasional reminder about:

1) “Passengers sat on the aisle next to an empty seat in an attempt to claim as much personal space as possible are invited to get off the bus and hail a taxi instead.”

2) “Passengers sat on the aisle next to an empty seat across from a friend who has done the same are invited to get off the bus and jump into the nearest canal.”

3) “Passengers are reminded that sitting next to the only person on an otherwise empty bus is weird and creepy.”

4) “Unless they’re sitting at the front, which is fair game, let’s be honest.”

5) “If you just heard a ‘ding’, someone has pressed the stop button. Pressing it again won’t somehow cause the bus to stop more.”

6) “Seriously, would it help if we told you the bus explodes if it goes ‘ding’ more than three times in a minute?”

7) “There are seats available on the upper deck of this bus. Go up there and sit down so the bus won’t sail past the poor gits standing at the next stop in the pissing rain, you utter bastards.”

8) “Sorry chaps, if your willy is so big you need to spread your legs across two seats, it has to have a valid Oyster card.”

9) “Stop trying to make eye contact with strangers. This is LONDON.”

10) “Oh my god seriously leave that person alone they don't want to talk to you they just want to get home and cook sausages.”

In heaven, everything is fine. Image: Wikimedia Commons/Matty.

11) “Tourists: getting on the bus solely to ask the driver to explain how to get to Big Ben while everyone else is late for work will often offend. Especially at a bus stop in Parliament Square.”

12) “Anyone eating anything more substantial than a Twix is required to offer all the other passengers a bit first.”

13) Anyone drinking alcohol is reminded that not only is it now illegal, but it will make anyone who isn't extremely jealous.

14) “If you were listening to your piss-awful music through headphones instead of that crappy phone speaker you probably wouldn’t even be able to hear this annoying announcement.”

15) “Don’t stand on the stairs getting in the way, or if you do at least have the decency to fall down them so we can all have a good laugh.”


16) “Passengers considering having a loud and lengthy phone conversation should first rectally insert their handsets.”

17) “You. Yes, you. Everyone knows it was you that held up the bus fumbling around in your bag for your Oyster card and now wants you to die.”

18) “Chin up everyone, there is always at least a very slight chance that everything will be okay.”

19) “We apologise for the delay. It’s mainly down to all these dicks who think driving a car through central London is a good idea.”

20) “Please, can you all just stop being dicks, all the time.”

21) “Could the red-faced weirdo please stop getting so uptight about what other people do on the bus, you’ll do yourself an injury mate.”

Ed Jefferson works for the internet and tweets as @edjeff.

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Could twin towns bring Britain back together?

An unlikely pair. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Twin towns: an irrelevant novelty to most of us, a peculiar name on a village’s welcome sign. But could linking one British town to another – a domestic reinterpretation of this long-standing European practice – help bring Britain back together in a time of national crisis?

Born in the aftermath of World War II, town twinning aimed to foster cooperation and solidarity across Europe. Communities entered formal alliances, nurturing friendships and shared histories. Coventry forged links with Dresden and Volgograd, then Stalingrad, marking the devastation faced by their citizens during the war.

The democratisation of Greece, Spain and Portugal during the 1970s led to a new wave of twin towns across Europe, as did the fall of the Soviet Union a decade later. Since its inception, the focus of town twinning has been on uniting people through relationships. It is a testament to the initiative’s success that many of these remain to this day; Coventry recently enjoyed a performance at the city’s cathedral by Volgograd’s children’s choir.

While European relations have improved since the 1940s, unity at home has received less attention. As a result, Britain is riven with deep economic, political, educational and cultural divides. These fault lines are increasingly determined by geography, with a growing gap between our big metropolitan cities and almost everywhere else.

In comparison to other European countries, we face staggering levels of regional inequality; six of the ten poorest regions in northern Europe can been found in the UK. As outlined by Alan Milburn, the government’s former social mobility tsar, “the country seems to be in the grip of a self-reinforcing spiral of ever-growing division. That takes a spatial form, not just a social one.”

These divisions are poisoning our body politic. As Adam Smith argued in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, putting yourself in someone else's shoes is vital for developing a moral compass; in doing so "we conceive ourselves enduring all the same torments, we enter as it were into his body, and become in some measure the same person with him..." But this is difficult when we have little interaction or experience of those with opposing views.

This is increasingly likely in geographically polarised Britain, with the places we live dominated by people who think alike. Our political leaders must commit time and energy to bridging these divides, just as the leaders of Europe did in the aftermath of the Second World War. By forging links between different parts of the country, a new era of domestic town twinning would do just that.


School exchanges between sister towns would offer an opportunity for children to be exposed to places, people and perspectives very different to their own. This would allow future generations to see things from an alternative and opposing perspective. It may also embed from a young age an awareness of the diversity of experiences seen by people across our highly unequal country.

MPs would be encouraged to spend time in their constituency’s sister town. First-hand exposure to voters in a very different part of the country would surely soften the views of even the most entrenched parliamentarian, making for a more civil debate in the Commons. Imagine the good this would do for Parliament today, with Brexit gridlocked because of the unwillingness of MPs to compromise.

In 2016 the Carnegie UK Trust launched its Twin Towns UK programme, a pilot linking twenty towns across the UK to examine how they might develop together. Emerging benefits include a reduction of insularity and a greater awareness of the bigger picture. Its focus was not on bridging economic divides – towns with similar socioeconomic characteristics were twinned – but initial outcomes from the scheme suggest a broader programme of domestic town twinning could have a powerful impact.

Looking further back, Camden has been twinned with Doncaster since the 1980s, a relationship that unionised Camden Town Hall workers forged in a display of solidarity with striking miners during the 1980s. Funds were raised to feed families of striking workers at the pit and Camden locals even drove north to deliver presents at Christmas. Though the relationship appears less active today, it serves as a powerful reminder of twinning’s capacity to bring people from very different places together.

As we prepare for Brexit it’s imperative that we protect existing twin town relationships with our European partners. This is of vital importance when we know sadly many of these are under threat from austerity and gloriously un-PC mayors. But we should look to breathe new life into these traditions too, where possible. Domestic town twinning would do just that: a step towards bringing Britain back together, just as a continent was reunited after the devastation of war.

Ben Glover is a researcher at the think tank Demos.