Life in the Bus Lane: Contributions
We asked people to tell us about their memories of bus journeys, and to recommend their favourite and significant bus routes in and around Plymouth. We advertised for contributions in Plymouth Arts Centre’s brochure, and via flyers left in various places including Plymouth central library, and asked people to mail their contributions to a PO Box at the Royal Mail sorting office in Plymstock. Some people told us in person of their memories. This is a selection of what people told us:

Crisp Wee
On the bus from Plymouth to Torquay, I was desperate to go to the toilet. I’d had a quick drink before getting on the bus. A mistake. By the time I’d got pout of the city I was dying for a wee. I was getting so desperate I was thinking I’d have to go in an empty crisp bag. I wanted to go so bad. But I held on somehow and we got the driver to let us off in Totnes and wait a couple of minutes so me and my friend could rush to the toilet.

School Bus
I haven’t been on a bus since I was a kid. But on the school buses there was always real segregation. The bad kids would always rush straight up to the front seats on the top deck, and smoke and play up. And the good kids would always head for the seats at the back of the bus on the ground floor. It was only the goodie goodies who sat up the front near the driver on the lower deck. I wonder if it’s still like that nowadays.
Alexis Gill 26 June 2002

My son came home from school the other day. He has really a floppy hairstyle, quite long, all hanging down over his face. Anyway, he got back from school with all his hair all short and said a girl had cut it for him on the school bus.
Dave Hotchkiss 8 June 2002

Compulsion Number 1: No Driver!
Route number 39 from Royal Parade outside Lloyds has changed just recently. Final destination, Southway, via Thorn Park Road on Mannamead. All the passengers shout out “No, driver!” when he forgets to turn off on the new diversion.
Compulsion Number 2: Good Luck
Most of my journeys are from the city centre via Tavistock Road. From childhood I have a compulsion to look up a particular road from the bus, for good luck. It’s my insecurity or something, but as a kid I had to do certain things to get good luck. And I have to look up the cul de sac just past the reservoir on North Hill every time. I can’t remember the name of the road, but the houses are all done up in an Elizabethan style. Every time I have to look. I’m not sure why, but it’s to bring good luck.
Compulsion Number 3: The Same Bus
When I was a young adult, if there was a young lady I particularly fancied, I would deliberately time my bus journeys so I could get on the same bus as her. Even if it made me late for work. Just so I could see whoever it was.
John Leonard 27 June 2002

School Bus 1: Fruit
On our school bus we’d always stop outside Southway Comp. We’d get people to save all the fruit from their lunch boxes. Then when the bus stopped outside Southway, we’d get all the fruit and squash it up against the back of the seats, and then lob it out of the windows at the Southway kids. They were bigger then us and would have killed us. They’d come banging on the door, but the driver kept it shut and wouldn’t let them on. We were all at Junior School, St Peter’s, Whitleigh. The Southway kids would have killed us if they’d caught us.
School Bus 2: Wrong Bus
Once I got on the wrong bus. I didn’t know where I was going. The bus went all round the estates on the outskirts of Plymouth. Places I’d never been too, although I’d lived in Plymouth all my life in Southway. The bus was taking workers out to all the factories around Plymouth and took ages. I was really late for school. It was a magic ride. I was been taken away and I had no idea where the bus was going.
Steve Mitchell 27 June 2002

City Fan
The thing about Plymouth is that the centre is at the bottom, with the city spreading up like a fan. I’ve lived in Plymouth all my life, yet there’s still places on the outskirts that I’ve never been to.
Steve Mitchell 10 September 2002

I was on the bus to Paris. We ended up in Calais at 5 in the morning. I was starving, and all I could get for breakfast was a chocolate bar and a can of coke from the machine. The French woman next to me got out a carton of milk, drank some, then ripped the carton open, put in some muesli and started eating it. I thought this was brilliant, really practical.

I was on a bus just before Christmas. It broke down and we had to wait ages for someone to come out to fix a broken hose or something. The heating had broken down too, so it was really cold and miserable. Everyone was getting fed up waiting. The woman next ti me put up tinsel to make it seem more Christmassy. She had three bits of tinsel hanging down from the luggage racks.
Darren Miles 2 July 2002

Wrong Bus
I caught the wrong bus once. I didn’t know where it was going, we went all round these estates with houses, up and round and all over. I didn’t have a clue where we were, I’d never seen this part of Plymouth before.
Well, eventually we got back to Pennycomequick, in the end, and I got off. Even now I still don’t really know where the bus went.
Sylvia Moore 29 August 2002

First Time
When I first came to Plymouth, I got off at the train station and I needed to get to Marjons for my interview. Well, I managed to catch a bus, and it went up to the bus station and waited, and then it took me off somewhere on the outskirts of Plymouth. As we went up and round all these roads, I kept thinking “Oh no, I’ve caught the wrong bus. I’ll never get to my interview on time”. But the old ladies on the bus kept saying ‘Don’t you worry love, we’ll get you there in the end!’ Anyway, the bus did get to Marjons eventually, I had my interview and I got my job. Of course if it was now, I’d take a taxi, but I came from a family which always got buses everywhere.
Linda Harding, head librarian, Plymouth College of Art and Design 10 September 2002

Wrong Bus - School Bus
I remember getting on a school bus by mistake once. God it was hectic. I couldn’t wait to get off!
Rachel Hipkiss 11 September 2002

Some of the pensioners bring sweets for the driver. They show you their pass and then they drop a few sweets into your tray. There’s one old lady who brings me a bar of chocolate every week. It’s really nice - shows that you’re appreciated.
James Scott, relief driver at CityBus 14 September 2002

Catholic Girls - School Bus
I got on a school bus the other day. Awful. It was shocking what those girls were coming out with, shouting out about their sexual experiences. All the details, they didn’t care who heard. I don’t know how the driver put up with them. One was boasting about what she and her 38 year old boyfriend got up to. I was really shocked. They were from the Catholic school over the road. Real jailbait some of them.
Anonymous, nurse at Derriford Hospital 25 October 2002