Wednesday, July 6, 2011

This is Oyiboland - Public transportation 101

So the following morsels about using UK public transport were mostly culled off the net but modified here and there by me from my experience. Do you agree with me?

  • Front seats are for senior citizens or disabled. If you are a young able bodied person you had better sit in the back of the bus or on the second level of a double decker. Otherwise, you risk the wrath of senior citizens who will not hesitate to call you selfish and inconsiderate.
  • Don’t be deceived by the number of people standing in a bus. If you scan the back seat you will find there is a free seat. I've always wondered about that phenomenon. Why do Brits prefer to stand in public transport?
  • Avoid sitting upstairs if there’s no-one else up there when taking the night bus.
In Nigeria  - front seats are for uniformed men. It's supposed to be so they have no hindrance in responding to emergency. Me thinks It’s cause it’s the best seat. Then free seats while people choose to stand? Ha, is that a joke?

  • The British queue for everything. Yes transport too.
In Nigeria – Well, if you’ve ever taken a bus from CMS heading to various Victoria Island stops, you’ll learn to hop on and hang in, cause that bus isn’t going to stop. Queue? What’s that?

Transport fare:  
  • Where you can, buy weekly savers! Saves you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Plan ahead. Buy your tickets at least a week ahead to get maximum discount on fares. You want to buy on the day especially train tickets or Coaches? Get ready to pay through your nose.
  • If you are in London buy an Oyster card to save money. It’s especially wonderful when the card reader is broken. You won’t be charged a pence but those using cash will still have to pay! On the down side, an Oyster card must be swiped at every stop unless you run the risk of being penalized and paying FULL fares. Not funny.
  • Have your exact fare especially for those of you in the bigger cities – London and Birmingham. Durham buses usually give you change.
In Nigeria – Come with your exact change or risk a long drawn out wait-time to get it or as Okeoghene has reminded me - unholy wedlock.
 Annoying fellow passengers:
  • If you enter the bus/train and you see a gaggle of females sitting together, please move to the next coach unless they are going to be laughing like Banshees all through the journey and induce some real stress. Personal experience.
  • Beware of the smarmy red faced red haired older man who volunteers to help you with your luggage. He is probably drunk and pretending to be a gentleman is his license to talk to you. Run!! Personal experience.
  • Mothers with strollers? Urghhhh!! They park it in the middle of the way and expect the rest of us to climb over them or stand. Mscheew.
  •  Check the change you receive from taxi drivers. I got a quarter dollar coin change instead of a 50p coin last week. Error or deliberate? I wonder ….
  • Always bring reading/listening material if your journey time is over 30 mins.
In Nigeria – The evangelists and professional beggars selling their ware – be it salvation or sad stories will make even this simple pleasure (reading or listening to music) impossible.

Bus drivers
  • Flag down the bus even when you are at stops that are not marked “request stop.” I can’t count the number of times buses have whizzed by me at a mandatory stop on the route.
  • Do not count on the bus driver to tell you where to get off. Even if you’ve asked them for help, they may forget or simply not care. Rather pick a map and use it as your guide to see when you’ve passed the streets in the vicinity of your destination.
  • If you get the opportunity, especially on regularly travelled bus routes, smile and say thank you to the bus driver as you get off the bus. They deal with the crappiest people abusing them day in day out. Be one of the nice ones.
P.s. I usually say thank you. Even back in Lagos. But if you are nasty, nope you don’t get my thanks.

Travel times
I know we say a lot of good things about Western efficiency but Britain doesn’t rank high among the efficient countries. Think of how they bungled clearing Heathrow’s runway after the 4 inches of snow that fell last Christmas. Finland cleared their 20 inches in 8 hrs, Britain cleared their 4 inches after 4 days.
So do allow yourself at least an extra 15-30 minutes when journeying on public transportation subject to traffic conditions and other situations that crop up. In Durham a 15.30 bus can easily become a 15.55 bus. Hence it is sensible to plan your journey with +/- 20mins leeway.
In Nigeria – No bus schedule. Choose a strategic boarding position and listen hard.

Avoiding injuries on bus
  • If a fight breaks out on the top deck, assume the crash position they show you on planes, this way when the people fighting fall on top of you, you suffer minimal damage.
  • When descending from the upper deck, hold the hand rail and watch your step ALL THE WAY DOWN. If you’ve fallen before say  ‘Yea!!’
  • Mind the gap!! 
In Nigeria - if you've never lost an outfit to wicked hooks or nails poking from innumerable parts of a Danfo bus, gotten scratched by those same hooks, or hit your head on some part of the door, then you must be the 'chauffeured child of some filthy politician. 

To be honest, If there is anything I’ve truly enjoyed here, it is British transportation. After the jungle of Danfos and death-trap taxis (Ibadan taxis especially), I know why their average life expectancy is 80 and ours 47.

So I saw this video on the Newyorkerproject's blog. I keep imagining what would have happened to that guy in Nigeria. Don’t you just love just love Western stoicness! Everybody just minding their!
Got transport experiences to share?


  1. lol @ the nigerian versions,really ][nts to look out for,thanks for sharing dear.Had a transport experience but it wasn't on bus sha.

  2. Ginger ur post sabi long o!
    LoL oya lemme go home and read from dia

  3. lol....everything is soooo on point! How annoying is it when some random dude starts playing music so loudly from their phones!!! I live in Nirmingham, no vus driver go give you change! They pass by broadstreet daily, if you ask them where is broadstreet they will say they dont know. Thats just mean! lol

  4. Very insightful post and your Nigerian commentaries are funny. Of course the front seat is the best seat and also the easiest place the policeman can be seen by fellow policemen so the driver will not be charged the usual"shandy".
    You know it is a skill to be able to jump on a moving bus? But with BRT now you will find bus queues at stadium, ojuelegba and the notorious cms.
    Change is another issue. That is where you will see "change marriages"; where the conductor will "join" passengers together and let them look for the change themselves. One time my "change husband" asked if i wanted to buy anything? See me see wahala.

  5. Lol@annoying fellow passengers....

  6. Your personal experience made me laugh. I hear there are BRT queues nowadays on the major routes. No more molue in Lagos though Danfos still run. I think people prefer to stand esp on routes that have bums half-living on the buses cos you don't know who has been sitting on that empty seat.

  7. One thing I appreciate about London is the transport system.

    I often commute into Central London (which is approx 10 miles from me) and it is like nipping next door

    Makes you realise how much the poor transport system is stalling development in Nigeria. For example, if we had trains etc, people could conveniently commute from Ibadan or Ife everyday - instead of everyone crowding into Lagos.

  8. We actually had a fairly easy time taking the underground both in Paris and London. We didn't take the bus except in Amsterdam and it was fairly straightforward too. Nigeria would be an eye opener! LOL!

  9. OK o, I apologize on behalf of all the people who have ever been "Mothers with strollers?" but many don't park in the middle of the way o.

    Don't London buses have something like "side spaces" such that people with strollers can push them to the side and not obstruct feet traffic?

  10. Hahaha! I just watched the video of the man licking his shoes. Only in New York!

  11. LMAO....NY is a crazier UK, I tell you...U seem to have left out the homeless who thinks he is the next Britain's Got Talent. E tire me o jare..

  12. I laughed o, esp @ the 9ja angle.. so correct! just the few weeks i spent with my BIL made me realize how pathetic/gruelsome our transportation system is in 9ja...well, with the new construction going on, we hope for a change *which i take with a pinch of salt!*....The BRT & UNITY buses plying CMS & BADAGRY are trying but not enough to meet the demand...the problem is still MAINTENANCE! Many of the vehicles are broken 9jas, they refuse to stand in such buses o! The bus driver had cause to shout at a passenger *YOU WAN SPOIL THE BELL!* becox the guy pressed it so hard when it got to his bus/stop! *laughing* sister, can a leopard change it's spots? or can a pig stop been a pig even when clothed with silk??...our 'MENTALITY' must change first before these changes would take place....a passenger behind me was shouting at the driver to stop nah, as we got to our final destination, i turned around & told him to be patient, that the driver must park well off the road! He grinned, & said, I BE 9JA nah! *laughing*

  13. I never thought swiping oyster cards at all the stops as stressful o. Or maybe it is because I am not resident in the UK. It all sounds ok to visitors like is.
    The transport system in Nigeria is so bad that they have made me hate buses seriously. Na condition sha
    Can the video be real? Maybe it was staged. Here in Naija, everybody would have run away, saying he is mad. lol

  14. Ive started looking forward to these your "This is Oyinbo land" series. They just crack me up.

    Another good one. well done

  15. Lol @ the video. If i were on that bus, i would hurry and get off or hope he does before me cos i wudn't want him coming to sit beside me as part of his 'werre' lol.
    I like your oyinbo land series too like mimi b said. As for Naija, transportation really needs to improve especially in Lagos. People actually queue for BRT buses last I checked though.nice post

  16. LoL! I can so relate with the Senior citizens on the bus. LoL--i try to avoid any embarrassment of anyone calling me selfish mehn and just offer for them to sit, like I nor fit shout mehn. loooL

  17. I love this post so much. I have experienced alot on London buses.

    Buses in London take forever to come especially bus 99. When it finally arrives 5 will come at the same damn time as if i am suppose to split my self in 5 places mcheww!

    I think the drivers too are mean. I was running ever so fast to catch this stupid bus, i got in front of it, the driver just shut the door and drove off, i was so pissed off that morning.

    Nice and funny post Ginger.

  18. Yay!!! Another Oyinboland. The differences are so glaring. Na wa for that video oh lol

    Muse Origins (formerly The Corner Shop)

  19. Haha @ the Naija versions of the stories. Yes, indeed. Although I'm not in UK, I can still relate. I must keep it in mind to buy Oysters abi na Lobsters when I come to that side of obodo oyibo

  20. Being a mummy with a stroller has it's upsides oh! Many times, the uniforms keep the ticket barriers open for me, so no need to swipe ;o)
    I'll remember to keep it out of the way in future

    The guy licking his shoes?! hahaha...

  21. Yikes! I've only riden the bus once, and taken a cab twice in my life. The second time, the cabbie yelled at me because he didn't understand the address I was going to, and he had to drive around the block, and he smelled like nobody had ever showed him deodorant.

  22. Nigerian commentaries.... Loved it :)

  23. loool...funny goodness that video..LMAO

  24. No be small thing o! Better than Molue sha!

  25. "If a fight breaks out on the top deck, assume the crash position they show you on planes..." hahaha!

    That video is VERY disturbing...what on earth...?

  26. Nice Anon says:
    1) Men and women who choose to have really loud conversations on Bus 53. They yell as if na their parlor dem dey.
    2) The endless squeezing during rush hour. Like you've got to be kidding me.
    3) Circle line has got be a real joke! Always late and I got stuck on there during rush hour for 45 mins. Two stops took that long.
    4) The most annoying British behavior of minding your business on the train with everyone reading a copy of the sun or news of the world.
    5) The people who think having a conversation that we can all hear on their phone is the way forward. Don't even bother asking most British folks. They'd look at you like a stupid American and sneer sometimes even.

    Much more but I'm done for now.

  27. Oh let's not forget the many times Bus N343 flew past me even though I dey for the bus stop na efe aka. Ara ga agbachi ha nti

  28. Thank you so much for sharing this informative post.. Stay blessed!!

    PHL Airport Taxi



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