THIS week, a bus-related survey, writes BARRIE HUDSON.
1.) As far as you are concerned, bus services in our towns and cities are:
a.) A good thing because they often allow people who would otherwise be unable to get out and about the chance to do just that.
b.) A good thing because they enable commuters to get out of their cars, thereby easing congestion, improving productivity and preventing millions of cubic feet of toxic gases from being released into the atmosphere.
c.) Those big things with a wheel or two at each corner.
2.) When a certain bus service doesn’t attract enough users to break even or make a profit, we should:
a.) Try to publicise the service more, so as to attract more users.
b.) Preserve the service even if more users cannot be found. Having an unprofitable route is better than giving people no options other than staying at home or, if they really must travel, getting behind the wheel of a car. There’s already so much carbon monoxide in the atmosphere that in certain parts of town you can knock your IQ down almost to bank senior executive level simply by taking a breath.
c.) Cancel the service immediately and perhaps have a half-hearted stab at introducing a third rate substitute which adds ages to people’s journeys. Who cares if kids start sneezing soot, so long as we get to save cash?
3.) If a council has overall control of a bus service, it is the responsibility of councillors to:
a.) Improve and promote it constantly as a vital public benefit.
b.) At the very least fight tooth and nail to keep it running adequately.
c.) Feel free to hack bits off it when money’s a bit tight.
4.) Hacking bits off a bus service when money is tight makes the public:
a.) Stay at home if they don’t have access to their own transport and - if they are vulnerable - perhaps become virtual shut-ins.
b.) Shun the bus service and public transport in general as it develops a reputation for being patchy and unreliable.
c.) Who cares what the public think and do, as long as the number of unhappy people isn’t enough to make a difference at the ballot box?
5.) When politicians, both local and national, lecture the public about the importance of public transport, they should also:
a.) Try their very best to maintain public confidence by ring-fencing public transport as vital civic good.
b.) Demonstrate financial and moral commitment to public transport at every opportunity.
c.) Feel free to wreck the very thing whose virtues they extol.
If you answered mostly a.) and b.) the chances are that you are an ordinary human being with a keen sense of our environment and the responsibilities of the haves toward the have-nots.
If you answered mostly c.) a future career in local politics might await. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to take yet another 200 grand from our bus services.
Oh, and don’t forget to consider awarding yourselves a massive inflation-busting increase in your allowances while you’re at it.