History has seen many great disasters. The defeat of the Persian armada at Salamis in 480BC. The destruction of the Hindenburg. The invention of the iPhone, leading to the society of depressed and atomised individuals in which we find ourselves today. But there is one calamity which is unsurpassed in the field of human incompetence. A catastrophe that makes all other failures and fiascos pale in comparison. I am, of course, talking about the invention of the Stagecoach U1 bus service, supposedly running between the main campus of the University of Warwick and the town of Leamington Spa.
I say supposedly because it is unclear whether this service actually exists or not. The mythical status of the U1 has been confirmed in conversations I’ve had with other students on the topic. Most of them tell tales of standing at the stop outside the church in Leamington for hours, waiting in vain for a bus that never comes, their dejected faces streaming with tears. As a result, the U1 seems to have acquired a reputation as the automotive equivalent of the Yeti. Some claim to have seen it, but most people dismiss these sightings as the ravings of the criminally insane.
If you are lucky enough to be standing at a bus stop in Leamington and, against all odds, a U1 appears through the mist and pulls up, don’t expect that your mental torment is at an end, because you must now pay for your travel. Most people simply pull out their bus pass, and this is acknowledged with a resentful nod by the driver. Woe betide those without bus passes, who must dig around in their wallets looking for some cash with which to pay the driver, who by this time has taken on the appearance and temperament of an Alaskan grizzly bear.
We should also spare a thought for those unfortunate individuals who lose their bus passes and must pay £300 for a replacement
We should also spare a thought for those unfortunate individuals who lose their bus passes and must pay £300 for a replacement, although at this point some credit should go to the SU, which has recently negotiated some improvements in this situation with Stagecoach.
Despite this progress, Stagecoach continue to spit in the faces of their paying customers, with the U1 service to Sydenham cancelled from the 16th September onwards this year. I can only assume that someone at the Stagecoach HQ has completely taken leave of their senses, given the number of students that live in Sydenham and the surrounding area. This move strikes me as particularly myopic given the fact that there are no less than seven stops north of the river in Leamington, with four of these being on Kenilworth Road towards the outskirts.
If you’re someone who lives in the far north of Leamington, consider moving house or buying a car rather than inconveniencing hundreds of your fellow students every week
This situation persists despite the fact that most students live nowhere near these stops, and, after a long day, have to sit through the arduous experience of the U1 stopping eight times before they are anywhere near their houses. If you’re someone who lives in the far north of Leamington, consider moving house or buying a car rather than inconveniencing hundreds of your fellow students every week.
Of course, these problems would be more tolerable if the taking the U1 was in any way a pleasant experience. It is not, and here the passengers must shoulder some responsibility. I can’t express the level of fury I feel when people sitting at the back of the bus use some combination of apology and grievous bodily harm to shove their way to the exit first in the most unjustified fashion. Try to remember to treat others with some degree of respect as you travel on the U1, this sweaty, odd-smelling monument to all that is wrong with British public transport.