Buses often play second fiddle to train travel in the UK, but they can still be a great way to see the world. It would be nice if our buses were a bit fancier, of course.
I have a confession to make. I enjoy travelling on buses.
Over the years, bus travel has garnered a certain reputation for being a bit rubbish. Stereotypes of bus passengers include little old ladies with their shopping trolleys and eccentric people muttering to themselves.
I don’t think that’s very fair. I’ve travelled a lot in buses and coaches in the UK and Europe and I’ve found bus travel to be much more interesting than its supposedly glamorous counterpart, train travel.
When you’re on a bus, you get to see lots more of the place you’re travelling through. Trains take you past all the interesting bits, while buses take you right into the heart of towns and cities. It may be a slower way to get from A to B, but I much prefer it.
One word I would never use to describe bus travel in the UK, however, is luxurious. From local buses to inter-city coaches, seats are often cramped and there is no real customer service beyond taking your money and giving you a ticket.
Spoilt by luxury – Britain’s buses don’t compare
Up until my recent trip to Argentina, I could live with the less-than-fancy conditions on UK buses. But now, I have been spoilt. Train travel in much of Argentina is limited, so this transport gap is filled with long-distance buses run by a variety of competing companies.
Now, these buses are pretty special. Passengers can choose from three classes, but even the lowest priced option offers more comfort and luxury than anything I’ve experienced in Britain.
On one 20 hour journey between Bariloche and Buenos Aires, I travelled on a medium-priced bus. My reclining seat was miles from the ones in front and behind, giving me plenty of space to stretch out. I was so comfortable that I was able to get a full night’s sleep, ready for a day of adventures in Buenos Aires.
During the journey I was served an afternoon snack, a hot dinner with wine, and a large breakfast, not to mention frequent offerings of tea and coffee. I even heard rumours of whisky and champagne being offered to passengers after the evening film had finished, but I was already asleep.
After experiencing such luxury for very reasonable prices, I think I’m really going to struggle to enjoy British buses as much as I used to. Please can we have buses like this to travel to Scotland and mainland Europe? I think I would use them every week.