Okay okay, this is really an article about coaches, but I wanted to do a pun and it just wouldn't have worked out otherwise.
A little while back, a last-minute invitation came up to go to an event in London. But my options seemed bleak - spend copious amounts of money on a train ticket or drive up there myself. Until someone suggested... a coach.
Thinking back across my experiences of buses and coaches growing up in rural England, my spine shivers (...okay that's a bit dramatic but thinking about it does make me gag)
There was that time we used to get taken to swimming on Friday mornings at Primary School. The seats were dusty and a nauseating psychedelic red and yellow swirrly pattern (why?!). We'd head from our school, through windy country lanes and up and down this big hill (that we thought a bear lived on) and I'd end up green by the time the journey ended 25 minutes later. We were so small and the seats in front were so tall that you couldn't see out. There were sticky messes stuck between the seats which made me wretch. At least you could make out a window on the way there, but then we had do the journey back with wet hair steaming up the windows and making the air damp which made me feel even more sick.
Things didn't get much better when I went to Secondary school and the only option when you wanted to go shopping on a Saturday was to take the bus to the next nearest town...via every other stop in the English countryside. Following a similar theme of hotel carpet/bus seat patterns, only these covers were like what happens when you rub your eyes and those patterns appear, in a sort of fun shade of orange. The buses were rickety and the windows leaked.
And then there were the days waiting the school bus at "the bus stop" (it was a wall in front of an old couple's house and until my final few years, there wasn't a shelter).
The buses did their jobs and I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but they just didn't inspire me to want to get on a coach/bus ever again. Maybe there was also an element of hatred of them by association of all the miserable emotions I felt aka. being wet, car sick etc.
So when someone suggested a coach, of course I ruled it out instantly....until I checked the prices.
You mean I can get to London and back, without dipping into my overdraft?
Anyway, I bit the bullet and I gave it a go - and I didn't die. In fact, dare I even say I enjoyed it? Although it did take slightly longer than it would have if I'd caught the train, I've been National Express, I've been Mega Bus and on all occasions the coach drivers have been friendly, the coaches have been clean, modern and on time. There was air con and even your own little reading light for when they dimmed the lights at night time. AND THERE WERE CHARGING PLUGS.
It was a revelation, a Christmas miracle. But did you know, it's thought that taking the coach can also be one of the most environmentally sustainable options out there? This article from the BBC suggests that when compared with a range of flight, car, bus and rail options, coach travel is one of the lowest CO2 emitting modes of transport at 27g per passenger/km traveled.
What would make these journeys even more carbon efficient, though, would for them to be just that teensy bit more filled up. Every time since I've traveled on them (and at £12 for a return, you bet I've been coach-trippin' ever other weekend), they've been at least half full.
That's why I'm calling for a coach revolution. Give it a try, I dare you.