Friday, 10 July 2009

Transports of delight

Something I‘ve noticed amongst many of the Guardianistas in CAMRA is a perverse prejudice against using taxis. Often public transport anoraks as well as beer geeks, for the sake of saving a bit of money that they could easily afford anyway, they are happy to research obscure bus services and hang around in the freezing cold at late-night bus stops. The working classes, in my experience, have no such compunctions, and when going out drinking are quite happy to use taxis. They value the extra convenience and understand that, especially if there are three or four of you, it can be no more expensive than taking the bus. They also factor it in to the overall cost of a night out rather than considering it in isolation. But, for hair-shirted middle-class liberals, taxis come across as something selfish and vulgar. This is also reflected in the opinion often expressed on transport forums that taxis don’t really qualify as “public transport” when, for vast numbers of ordinary people in our major cities, most famously Belfast, they undoubtedly are treated as such.


  1. Actually, what has public transport got to do with pubs? It's a side gripe I have with CAMRA. Pubs that are on bus routes get special treatment from CAMRA. The quality of the pub, or the beer it serves has nothing to do with it's public transport connections.

    So I think that means I agree with you.

    What is more efficient, a bus carrying 2 people, as often is the case with any subsidised route, or a taxi carrying 4 people taking them where they want to go, exactly when they want to be there?

  2. Pubs that are on bus routes merely get a mention of the route in the GBG. That makes the guide more user friendly. It is information that's all just like symbols for coal fires or evening meals.

    Whatever you are "driving" at here Dave, I doubt if the point Curmudgeon is making is the one you've morphed it into. He'll correct me if I'm wrong.

  3. When I lived in Liverpool, taxis were cheap and plentiful. I had an annual bus ticket, but still used them for quickness. Everyone did. The taxis were never idle. Relentless price increases have changed all that, both here in Manchester and I believe in Liverpool too. Geese and golden eggs.

    Taxis are public transport, but perceived worth against cost is like beauty - in the eye of the beholder.

  4. Dave does have a point, which is one I may return to in the future, but not really the one I am making.

    It's just that many people, who could easily afford it from time to time, simply refuse to consider taxis as one of their transport options, whereas self-evidently a lot of others, who may be more strapped for cash, do.

    Although no doubt some would reply that possessing an annual bus season ticket further tilts the balance.

  5. Martin, Cambridge11 July 2009 at 20:18

    Talking of CAMRA quirks, have you noticed how little walking between pubs is done on their crawls?

    The typical branch newsletter lists endless details of bus mishaps when perhaps a bit more exercise would help counter the CAMRA beer-belly stereotype - a couple of miles walk between pubs should work off 200 calories !

    NB Stockport branch seem pretty good on this score.

  6. This is the first I've ever heard of prejudice against taxis among CAMRA members, despite 25 years of membership. Here in Southport the buses are dear and the taxis cheap: £1.80 to the town centre by bus and £2.40 by taxi, although I usually favour Shanks's pony myself.

    Yes, CAMRA newsletters do sometimes go on about buses, but I don't think anyone takes much notice ~ people travel by whatever method they prefer.

  7. Tandleman, maybe it's just a few individuals in our local branches make a big thing about it then. It does wind up some publicans I know.

    "driving" at - good one.

  8. Dave, this old post, which relates to a pub in your part of the world, may be relevant.

  9. Wot? Are you saying the working classes don’t read the Guardian? Some of us do, you know...Well, ok, I don’t now but I used to.

    There does seem to be a fair bit of transport geekery within Camra. Trainspotting, bus-spotting and most sadly, bus-stop spotting all rear their ugly head. Not really surprising in an organisation that encompasses many fringe sports itself-beer ticking, pub-spotting etc. And yes, there are plenty in there that are simply too tight to pay for a taxi.

    I do use taxis when they are the best option, but I don’t think you’re comparing like with like when you imply it’s a class issue. I think that (being a self confessed petrolhead, perhaps) you don’t consider that sometimes it’s simply more advantageous to get the bus. Within Greater Manchester, anyway.

    Nobody enjoys waiting at cold and wet country lane bus stops-not even Camra members, I presume. But take the journey to my favourite pub in the area. It costs nearly £10 (and that’s to town, not even my house) each way. For £4.60 I can travel there, back and anywhere else on the day. For a petrolhead, this probably sounds your worst nightmare, but even if I had money to burn-a Camra chairperson, say, I’d still have to think twice with those odds.

  10. I can see the point about social class, as a working class lad myself I see nothing wrong in spending your money however you like, and two fingers to those that don’t approve, and am sceptical of the hand wringing guilt many of the middle classes feel about spending a quid you‘ve earned. My good lady, and resolutely middle class, will worry about anything from the welfare of chickens, the education of foreign children, and the chemicals on none organic food and puts all this prosperity guilt into the decisions she makes in regard to the pound she spends. She does prefer taxi’s to buses though and though she would never admit it, has little desire to rub shoulders with the people that use them. I am happy sit next to anyone to save a bob or two. Go figure. Class as they say is class.

  11. As someone who doesn't own the means of production and therefore is working class in the Marxist sense you wouldn't get me on a bus in this country. Too many ill mannered low lifes on buses. Taxi every time.

    P.S. I read the Guardian

  12. If it wasn't for taxi drivers in London , I'd have been buggered in a gutter the last time I went there. I'd drank so much I couldn't even sit the right way round on a toilet, never mind catch a Tube in the right direction. The trick is to make yourself sick before you hail a cab. Gives you at least ten minutes grace, then you can spew all over the railway station wall when you arrive and then carry on.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. To combat persistent trolling, unregistered comments are liable to be deleted unless I recognise the author. If you intend to make more than the occasional comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.