Personally, the last time that I was on a bus was circa 1988, but my wife recently asked me to meet her in Tooley St. at the entrance to Hays Galleria. While idling my time waiting I noticed the bus stop there, and in particular the behaviour of prospective riders. A few gathered in some semblance of a queue at the stop itself, others ranged along the wall separating the pavement from the Galleria while some stood on the pavement some eight to ten metres ahead of the bus stop. When a bus arrived, all concerned swooped forward to board it, with much pushing and shuffling. In the ten to fifteen minutes that I was there everyone managed to make it on to the bus that they wanted, but the thought occurred to me, what happens in morning or evening rush hours? As I remember it, you joined the queue at the back and if you didn't get on the first bus then you were that much nearer the front when the next one came along. Nowadays I only use the Underground or black cabs, I gave up on buses, they seemed to take forever to get from A to B. After watching the pantomime in Tooley St. I think that maybe I did the right thing.
I suspect this will get moved to the Chatter board since it's not SE1-specific, but funny you should mention this. I experienced the polite and logical British queueing system on many previous visits, and its apparent abandonment is one of the first things I noticed upon moving here in May.
What really gets me is when I am the first one waiting for the bus, then other people arrive sporadically, and then the bus doors open and EVERYONE (especially the ones who are younger than I) pushes in front of me to get on first. I always am aware when I come to a bus stop of the people who were there first, and I let them on first (also the elderly and disabled, of course).
I will say, though, that if the bus is crowded the driver will just drive off after discharging passengers, without letting anyone on. That happened to me a couple of weeks ago, and I missed a movie with a friend because two came by and wouldn't let me on (even though they let off 10 people and I was the only one wanting to get on). I finally took a different bus (which then stopped at Waterloo and said "everyone off" instead of going into the West End--why do I have to pay to get on another bus when it didn't go to the advertised destination?).
Since I'm digressing anyway, what is it with men who are travelling together but will not sit together? I've often seen them take two aisle seats, blocking the window seats and forcing anybody who wants to sit there to squeeze by them. Then they shout at each other across the aisle.
And another thing, people: Move to the window, for God's sake! Unless you're getting off in the next five minutes, just move over instead of making people squeeze by you.
(All this said, I must say that the bus system here is actually rather decent. I prefer it over the underground because I hate walking for miles in tunnels to get to the actual train--especially when you have to make a change. This may change when it gets to be freezing weather, however!)
I recall reading a couple years ago that it had been officially accepted that the 'bus queue' was now considered, with some regret, an anachronism that in the modern age caused more problems than it solved.
In a search for some clarification on this I came across this snippet, quoted in Time magazine:
Monday, Sep. 06, 1943
QUEUES COST THREE HOURS A DAY.
Line Upon Line, All Over Britain, War Workers Are Waiting For The Next Bus. With these bannerlines, Lord Beaver-brook's Daily Express opened war against a Government order reducing the number of busses on London lines.
Queueing workers complained to an Express reporter: 1) there are seldom special busses for workers from factories to distant railroad stations; 2) no extra busses for peak hours; 3) workers are not given priority over shoppers. In Liverpool, said the Express, "there is no all-night bus service; ship-repair workers sometimes have to sleep beside the job they have finished. . . . The bus queues are something more than an inconvenience to the public. They add as much as three hours every day to a working day of eight hours. ... By bringing a few hundred men from other tasks to the driving of the London busses, we could abolish the long waiting in queues. We should effect a real conservation of human energy."
There may have been an argument in wartime, but I think it would be hard to argue today that some people are more important and should have first priority! Besides, there are other advantages to the queue, such as engendering a feeling of order, good manners, and fairness. If you're there first, you get on first. If you're there last, you get on last. No stress. But many people don't seem to want to wait their turns any more.
How much I agree with you, Laphroag, regarding the lack of queuing for buses - and the resulting 'pack mentality'. I have had exactly the same experience at Hay's Galleria bus stop - and many others.
It brings out the worst in me, whether or not I am first at the bus stop, to see people of all ages not giving any consideration to others.
'Consideration' is a word that seems to have all but disappeared from many people's vocabulary - along with 'fairness'.
As for 'good manners' - these are seen as old-fashioned or, worse, as a weakness by more and more people [and not just the young].
I am equally appalled at the sheer ignorance of the bus-drivers, as I move around SE1 and beyond. In my experience it is now the majority of them who seem both unable or unwilling to offer anything remotely resembling 'customer service'.
Travelling around London on a bus ceased to be much of a pleasure some years ago.
On a recent trip to family in Dundee I arrived at the bus stop, and everyone was in a very neat, long line.
When the bus arrived, the door opened, and I moved to get on, London style, much to the open mouthed amazement of the other people waiting, who all proceeded to file on, single file and orderly.
If someone didn't want that bus they stood back, and the queue continued to file forward. I actually felt quite freaked out, and I strongly felt that the bus would leave without me on it, as why would a driver wait until everyone gets on.
Equally, the driver waited to get to a stop, and didn't stop 5 buses back, and then drive off at high speed before you could reach it.
I had forgotten that Londoners aren't normal, elsewhere people have manners.
Actually se1 and sw1 are the only places in london that i have actually seen the mythical ancient beast 'the bus queue'. In rush hour there is a queue at waterloo bus pull in for the buses going north over the bridge. The othe one is on horseferry road for buses going south back to waterloo. What distinguishes these civilised queues is the majority of them are clearly in suit requiring middle class 'white collar' jobs and where the queue culture must be self policing or otherwise somone using a 'cheat' strategy would be a clear 'winner'.
With regard to the 'good old days' when I was at school in south london in the 80s when a bus came we would all pile on and older people would shout at us for pushing and we would occasionaly be told off at the school assemblies. We would also wind the bus driver up by ringing the bell repeatedly and he would often stop the bus and throw everyone off..
The rush for the bus line is certainly a feature here in the E&C mostly because every stop has about ten buses, so it's impossible to know who is waiting for what number. Once on, alas, I am more distressed by the total lack of manners of the young and healthy vs. the older and less able. There are young kids sitting in the "These seats are for those less able.." (plus PICTURES for God's sake) who will not stand up unless positively shouted at by ME (who doesnt care and is a grumpy old bag anyway) not necessarily on my own behalf. The number of men and children sitting obstinately while an elderly person stands is just a disgrace.
when 2 or more buses pull up at a bus stop they all open their doors and the queue simply disperses into a kind of mob. this is complicated at times when some drivers do and others dont let people on when this scrum is taking place....and then there are the bendies!!! dont start me...