I like the TFL. I do. I don’t drive in the UK, and have lived in London for a year and a half, so I rely on TFL for everything. I have written at length about how to be the best parent you can when using public transportation, and I really do find TFL pretty kind to parents, overall.
First things first – 99% that I use public transport, I babywear. For me it saves the trouble of having to fight my way on and off the bus, and I think it is as kind as possible to other riders. So, when I was at my home stop and my bus pulled up with a large amount of people on the bottom level, we went upstairs. When we reached our stop (X), I waited for the bus to stop and then carefully walked downstairs. Just as I was about to disembark, the doors shut in front of me. I rang the bell and was told “40 seconds is all you get”. Now, not only was this rude, it was dangerous as hell, because between the stop I got off at and the one before it was this:
Hey! Who wants to play live-action Frogger?
There is nothing like staring down 5 lanes of traffic as the A 40 merges into Holland Park roundabout with your child strapped to your chest to make you really, really regret not being a jerk and just hitting the Emergency Open button at your actual stop.
Now, a few things to keep in mind: I have gotten off at that stop hundreds of times, and have never seen a time limit introduced. Disounting the fact that
A) We had to wait quite a few minutes at the Goldhawk Rd. stop for the driver handoff, so I knew we had just begun a shift and could not be terribly off schedule,
B) There was a 94 bus directly in front of us which was taking off as we were apporaching, meaning time could be made up at the next (usually empty) stop,
C) In the amount of time it took the driver to say “40 seconds” while he was still at the stop, we could have disembarked, and
D) In no way shape or form does it take me 40 seconds to walk down a small flight of stairs, forcing me to believe he was miscouting,
it is an incredible lack of common courtesy on this driver’s part to not take 5 seconds out and let me disembark. I play by the rules – I don’t bring on a pram the size of an aircraft carrier, I always have my Oyster card out, I only take up one seat. I have respect for TFL – TFL has no respect for me. In the future I will be forced to use a pram and take up extra space on the bottom deck to avoid having to cross a 5 lane highway with my baby, which does nothing but harm the productivity of other drivers and bus patrons.
Ah well. I kept a little bit of cool, made a mental note of the bus details, and shot off an email to TFL. Let’s see if their office disrespects parents as much as today’s driver did.