Thirty Thousand Streets

Monday, March 31, 2008

Bus Route Review: the 148

Buses are manky. Filthy. I actually quite like the things, but even I'm prepared to come clean and acknowledge that. The 'free' buses (the hated on bendys) are the worst, no question, and they always seem to posess a faint but cloying stink – a rank cocktail of chicken bones and sweat.

So it was with some surprise that I discovered the gem that is the 148, which sallies forth from Camberwell Green to the far flung reaches of Shepherd's Bush, because it's like, the Orient Express of London buses or summat.

Everything's just so CLEAN.. the seats crisp and brand new. At least one of the times I've caught it these were clad in some kind of faux leather polymer, butter-soft and shiney. They're widely spaced as well – like riding in some kind of business class suite with extra legroom.

We've got Britain's premier HGV construction firm Scania to thank for all this (their logo is proudly embossed on all the headrests) and they've done a bang up job, too fo' sheezy. If there was a spin off series of Pimp My Car entitled Pimp My Bus, presented by Tim Westwood, and the 148 was selected for a makeover, I think the big guy would be left, for once, speechless, having witnessed the majesty that is the 148. He might even cry, before going home.

"But why is this?" I hear you cry, dear reader. "Why is this bus so damn fly, when I wouldn't deign to keep chickens on most of them?"

Well – sigh – there is a downside to this bus. A reason for its pristine glory. For each of these buses has a pre-recorded voice that speaks the bus number, destination, and current location at every stop.


An anodyne female voice intones flatly, when you first board. At first it isn't so bad. Something of a novelty in fact. But like many 'novelty items' (novelty erasers for example) the sheen of the new is quick to tarnish, and it rapidly becomes deleriously irritating.

I'm guessing Scania thought they'd really push the boat out on this one, and create 'The Bus of The Future – a sort of robo-bus if you like. Well if this is the future of buses I've just seen, it's a dark one, if they're all to sound like The Bride of KITT strung out on valium.

I'd heard that one of the practices in those lovely American prisons for 'unlawful combatants', alongside water-boarding and the like, was to play music at unholy volume at the detainees – such as Barney the Purple disosaur, or even worse, Eminem. And this, after a while, is a bit like that: torture.

But on the plus side, even 'da yoof' who are partial to serenading buses with the skittish strains of Nelly and SoulJah all their mobile phones are utterly antagonised by robo-bus, and so the people who would likely be scrawling 'Murda Zone' onto a seat, or spitting on the floor aren't much in evidence.

But neither is anyone really, which is why they're so crisp and new feeling, for to tarry too long on the 148 is to court gibbering insanity as effectively as summoning Azathoth. Which is sort of fine actually, as I never usually wish to ride it all the grim environs of Shepherd's Bush, and I'd rather get the tube up to Notting Hill.

Camberwellians in a hurry take note though: As a shuttle bus up to Elephant and Castle tube however, it really is, just the ticket.


Zeno Cosini said...

I sometimes get the 148 from Notting Hill to Shepherd's Bush. Azathoth was ON IT one morning a couple of months ago, and insisted on sitting next to me even though there were plenty of empty rows in front and behind.

D-Func said...

Haha, yeah it's always been better quality than the others that one, don't understand why just that route and none the others?? (It is actually exciting to board that bus, because of standard of the others) Shame they've gone too far with it though, hehe...

The Eyechild said...

@ Zeno

The Demon Sultan sat next to you on the 148? Rum get.

I hate it when mythos deities do that..

@ D-Func

It truly is ffrreesshhhhh...

The Eyechild said...

Actually, I got on one of these back from The Elephant early one Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago with my housemate Jess, and it was awful!

Some African dude was berating the driver the whole way, and halfway down the Walworth Road a posse of of lads started chanting:

"Eh Cunty!"

At the poor driver as well.

A different story at night, then. Plus, in all fairness, it starts in Camberwell.