This is not the best thing to hear on a
friday night saturday morning. Especially after you’ve walked for 30mins in the rain to get to the station. Of course, if you’re not from London or any other major city you’re probably not familiar with public transport past 11pm, let alone 24hr service. Although it seems Dagenham East lacks this too, eastbound trains were still running at 1:30am, so if you needed the 4 stops east of the station instead of the 55 stops west (I checked that on wikipedia…), you’re fine. For the unlucky westbound travellers, we are now faced with a difficult decision. There is always, as a matter of course in East London, a minicab firm in the station. However, a quote of £10 for the journey home (coupled with my lack of £10) soon killed that idea. Knowing the area well, I knew there was a junction about a mile away where you could catch the night bus. A mile, that’s 25 mins walking in the rain, on top of the walk you’ve already done. Or 10 mins running. And so it was that I ended up running through the rain-sodden streets of East London to the night bus-stop. It’s not any different to the day bus-stop, it’s even in exactly the same place, it’s just darker and more lonely.
Rather luckily, the bus came as soon as I got there (I too, was extremely impressed with this). In much the same way as the bus stops, night buses are not very much different from day buses. They do have an ‘N’ in front of the number, but that’s pretty much it. They are not, as certain films would have you believe, magical triple-decker buses that can bend the laws of physics (or am I missing a silent k?).I haven’t rode the night bus in a very long time, so was a fairly new experience for me.
After you get on and find a seat, you notice in this case that the bus is brand new and shiny with comfortable cushioned seats and no graffiti (the East London equivalent of First Class). You’ll also notice that you’ve joined a sort of silent night bus society. Far from being a mute nocturnal bus spotting group, this society is made so because of the similarities between everyone on the bus. From my experience, I imagine it’s quite rare you’ll find a sober person on the night bus (apart from the driver, hopefully). The night bus is sparsely populated, and everyone who is alcohol-infused will face the confusing and difficult decision as to which seat to sit in (unlike Rebecca Black’s case , there is actually a huge choice of seats). There were what looked like some seriously plastered riders who failed to reach their chosen seat before passing out in the aisle, followed by their friend’s attempts to revive/move them. Everyone else was sitting quietly, in one of 3 positions;
1: Sprawled across 2 seats in an effort to get some sleep, of course with the knowledge that the night bus travels alot further than the day bus and there is a risk you’ll end up in Oxford Circus if you misjudge your sleeping time.
2: With neck muscles unable to support their heads so late at night they are resolved to either leaning against the window for support, on the floor in the aisle because they forgot they weren’t anywhere near the window when they tried to lean against it, or pressing their face into the seat in front.
3: Sitting halfway between the two seats fairly upright staring with utmost concentration at the CCTV monitor and its slow cycle through all of the cameras on the bus, looking tripped out at what’s going on, occasionally looking at the dot-matrix display saying where the next stop will be.
I was a firm number three here, sitting with a blank expression waiting for the time to press the bell.
I know I’ve just explained a completely pointless drunken story to you, but I found it quite an interesting experience that would otherwise be a very dull and boring tale. In fact, it was a very weird experience that I’m very surprised I remember. The moral of the story: God bless TfL.