Saturday, July 18, 2009

London Bus in Pittsburgh

For those that cannot get to London, England anytime soon you can still experience the thrill of a ride on the big red bus. An old Routemaster (No. 12 to Victoria) departs the South Side Works for a journey around Pittsburgh. You can’t miss seeing it parked on South 27th Street. The red double-decker bus is rather imposing at 14 feet high. Vince and Manon LaMonica run the service here in Pittsburgh. See this site for details.

The No. 12 in London originates at Oxford Circus and travels towards Trafalgar Square, Parliament Street, Elephant & Castle Station and onward to Dulwich Library. Sadly, they are no longer used in London except for one or two limited routes. Londoners were experienced in hopping on and off the bus whilst it was still moving. Some never made in on and I don’t know of anyone getting hurt other than loosing a shoe now and then.

The thrill was hopping on the bus as it was pulling away from a stop. You did not enter from the front and pay the driver. He sat in an enclosed cab and was only concerned with traffic. People got on and off at the rear where there was no door but an open platform. It had a pole that you grabbed so you could pull yourself in. A conductor walked the upper and lower saloons looking for new faces. He would come around and take your 10p and would give you your ticket from a dispensing machine hanging from his neck. Yes, the bus did stop and as there was only one way on or off you had to move quickly. The best seats were on the upper deck. Climbing curving stairs on a moving bus was like being at Kennywood.

If I may borrow from Natalie Tran AKA Community Channel, the word of the day is saloon. No, a saloon is not a drinking establishment but an open area or room in which people could stand. Taverns have a saloon and they commonly have a bar where drinks are sold. Old English homes often had a saloon where the lady of the house entertained guests. Obviously they did not stay long but maybe that was the point of having one. Anyway, getting back to Vince and Manon LaMonica; good luck, no flats and will you drop me off at the pub?

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