A few weeks ago now, I met a nice gentleman called Roger who had heard me speak at the Maldens and Coombe Heritage Society. He is a pensioner who spends some of his time as a paid Transport Surveyor on London Transport so he knows a lot! He also happens to have a wonderful collection of bus ephemera: tickets, timetables, other leaflets which he kindly leant to me. I’ve now scanned it all in and will be uploading bits as time goes on.
Roger shared a few of his experiences on the 213 which were particularly evocative to me. In 1969, Roger was commuting on the 213 to North Cheam and there was a regular fellow passenger on the upper deck who used to chain smoke for the whole journey. As a none smoker, I can’t really imagine anything worse than being stuck in a moving metal box, smoke billowing, but I guess it was fairly common in the late 1960s. It makes quite a contrast to the annoying habits of the average fellow passenger nowadays – listening to music too loud, gossiping about their sex lives….but my absolute worst complaint is when people eat really smelly food on the bus home, when I’m starving for my dinner! A few years ago, Roger’s stop ‘Oak Road’ got bus shelters and apparently one of the neighbours complained. This made me think about how (potentially) disruptive it would be to have a bus stop located right outside your door, and buses zooming along your road every 3-5minutes (one going each way at 6-10 minute intervals), it must actually be quite intrusive to your daily life. Finally, another insight into the lives of bus drivers: apparently the 213 route is favoured by older and female drivers because of the ‘facilities’ at both ends of the route. The average shift might be 4 round trips, i.e. Sutton-Kingston, Kingston-Sutton x 4 which is actually quite a lot of driving, particularly when road works seem to make parts of the route into a crawl (A3 to Worcester Park, North Cheam). It’s bad enough being on the bus in such conditions, but to be driving must be really frustrating! I suppose automatic transmission makes it a bit easier than manual, but still!