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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Vanilla Skybus: George Romero and Pittsburgh’s metro to nowhere

A prototype Skybus on display near Pittsburgh. Image: BongWarrior/Wikimedia Commons.

The late director George A Romero’s films are mainly known for their zombies, an association stretching from his first film, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, to his last as director, 2009’s Survival of the Dead.

But many of them are also a record of Pittsburgh, the city he lived and worked in, and other locations in the state of Pennsylvania in the late 20th century. Martin (1978), for example, isn’t just a movie about a kid who thinks he’s a vampire: it’s a moving portrayal of the post-industrial decay of the Pittsburgh borough of Braddock.

Though born in New York, Romero studied in Pittsburgh and stayed in the city after graduation, shooting commercials as part of the successful Latent Image agency. It was in collaboration with advertising colleagues that he shot his debut Night of the Living Dead. On both that movie and subsequent films, Romero and his colleagues used their experience and connections from the agency to secure cheap and striking locations around the city and state. 

It’s in Romero’s little-seen second film, 1971’s romantic drama There’s Always Vanilla, that a crucial scene touches on a dead end in the history of urban transport in Steel City.

In the scene Vietnam vet Chris, only recently returned to town after a failed music career, sees his father off on a train platform, after an evening where Chris got his dad stoned and set him up with a stripper. (It was the early 1970s, remember.) An odd little two-carriage metro train pulls up on an elevated concrete platform, Chris’ father rides away on it, and then Chris literally bumps into Lynn, whom he then both gaslights and negs. (It was the ‘70s.) You can see the scene here.

A screenshot from There's Always Vanilla, showing the Skybus through a chain link fence.

If you don’t live in Pittsburgh, you might assume that funny little train, still futuristic forty years on, is just an everyday way of getting around in the exciting New World. Who knows what amazing technology they have over there, right?

In fact, the Transit Expressway Revenue Line, more snappily referred to as the Skybus, not only doesn’t exist today: it hardly existed at all, beyond what we see in that short scene. In the 1960s there were plans to replace Pittsburgh’s street car system with a more up to date urban transit system. The Skybus – driverless, running on rubber tires on an elevated concrete track with power provided with an under rail system – drew enough support from the Port Authority and Federal Government for them to fund a short demonstration track at the Allegheny County Fair, at that point a local institution.

It’s this demonstration track and train that appears in There’s Always Vanilla. Film makers love isolated systems like this, or the UK’s many heritage railways, because they allow for multiple takes and a controlled environment. So it made sense for Romero to use this local curio rather than seek access to an in-use station.


The sequence in Vanilla shows that the Skybus system worked, and as a potential metro system it looks quite striking to this day with its curved windows and distinctive logo. But the proposed system wasn’t popular with everyone, and cost concerns and political wrangling stalled the project – until it was finally rejected in favour of a more conventional steel wheel on steel rail transit system.

The demonstration track was pulled up in 1980, although the small station and platform seen in the movie remains: Romero expert Lawrence Devincentz narrates a photo tour of the building on the blu ray of There’s Always Vanilla.

Vanilla was renamed and barely seen on release, but is now available as part of a boxset of Romero’s early works from Arrow Video, in ridiculously pristine 2K digital transfer. The Skybus is there too, a curio of Pittsburgh history caught on a few short minutes of film. Neglected back then, both seem considerably more interesting now.

‘There’s Always Vanilla’ is available on blu ray as part of Arrow’s ‘George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn’ box set, and will receive a standalone release later this year.

Mark Clapham used to work in rail regulation, but now writes things like this. He tweets as @markclapham.