Ladies Who Bus: Riding The Final Bus Around London

After pondering where Ponder’s End was, Jo Hunt decided to take the bus there to find out. That one trip turned into a five year adventure for her, her sister-in-law Linda Smither, and Mary Rees — Jo’s cousin — who can now say that they’ve travelled on every single London bus from end to end.

The trio blogged about their adventures as they went, as the Ladies Who Bus. On Monday 10 February 2014, it all finally came to an end when they caught the X68 bus from Russell Square to West Croydon, the very last journey on their epic mission.

What were the highlights? The worst journey? And would they still use their freedom passes to travel elsewhere now that this was all over? Geoff Marshall caught up with them, video camera in hand.

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Article by Geoff Marshall | 39 Articles | View Profile | Twitter

  • Working taxpayer

    Well I’m so glad they’ve enjoyed their totally pointless 5 year trip, paid for by the rest of us working taxpayers, and gloated so much about how they have frittered someone elses money so extravagantly on such a waste of time project. Now they’ve finished rubbing our noses in it too with the constant pointless commentaries, maybe they’ll go back to quietly mugging the rest of us with slightly more private totally unnecessary excursions to the seaside etc like all the other pass abusing pensioners. I’m paying for their pointless free travel now, but by the time I get to 60 there won’t be a free pass for me for even the most essential trips to hospital etc because of their abuse, so thanks very much jo, Linda and Mary…. I’m guessing you’re only not doing all the night buses to the ends of the routes next because you’d have to pay for your own special brew to “fit in” with all the other people who are still on the bus at the terminus!

  • Geoff Marshall

    phew! thanks goodness. for a moment there i thought there wasn’t going to be some glum killjoy idiot out there to leave a ‘what a pointless thing to do’ type comment, but @workingtaxpayer you have excelled yourself! well done. i’m voting your comment up. it deserves to be seen by everyone!!

    • Working taxpayer

      I wouldn’t mind, Geoff, if it was a “free” bus pass, but unfortunately vital council services are being cut left right and centre across the country to pay for them to be able to do this kind of thing… And with such a brasen “we don’t care we’re wasting everyone’s money” attitude… Do you REALLY think that’s right???

      • Geoff Marshall

        at no point in the video do i recall them saying “we don’t care we’re wasting everyone’s money”, so you’ve assumed that for yourself.

        there is a clip of them (unused, not everything can make the final edit) where they talk about how they are acutely aware of how fortunate they are, and how they find it sad that by the time others (including myself) get to the age of 60 we won’t have it because it’s being moved back in line with the pensionable age.

        one of the ladies also has a mother in her 90’s, and her freedom pass is a vital lifeline for her to get out of the houses, and be able to go to shops, talk to people, etc.. For those that couldn’t afford it otherwise, it’s a social lifeline to interact with other people – the elderly generation who are often shunned by a younger population. and considering that she paid taxes her entire working life, i think she’s earned it.

        you also seem to fail to get on board (see what i did there?) with the pure explorative and adventurous nature of any of this. i’m sure they could just it at home and perhaps fulfil the stereotype that the rest of society may cast upon retired people, or we can revel in the fact that they’re getting out, engaging with the world, talking to others, making other people’s lives better and through their blog most certainly inspiring other people to get out and prove that you can do something with your lives, even at the age of 69 which Jo is.

        when i’m their age, i really hope i’m still doing something interesting with my life, rather than just taking the easy route (again, see what i did there?) of being a miserable commentator, who fires off disparaging comments from behind the safety of my keyboard.

        • Working taxpayer

          You are missing my point…. they are only doing it because it’s “free” and it isnt…. They wouldnt go if they had to pay, yet I have to pay FOR THEM to go, but by the time I’m 65 I’ll have paid my taxes too all my life, but I’m unlikely get a pass even to make the most essential of vital lifeline journeys, like the 90 year old you mention… because some of todays pensioners are abusing the privilege now. If you’re happy with them joyriding now, so as in a few years time the pass is withdrawn for EVERYONE because its provision cannot be funded any longer then great… I just think its a bit of a selfish attitude in these times of austerity, that’s all… I’ll just close another community library to pay for their trip from carlisle to lands end for you…

          • Little Katie

            Perhaps we should all stop using the NHS as well in case one day it isn’t free any more! Or maybe just let those with terminal illnesses use it, cos anything else might be considered frivolous! ;-)

      • Dave H

        What a miserable attitude.

        Consider these points:

        1) The amount of “working taxpayers’ money” that is being “wasted” on this endeavour is utterly trivial. Seriously. Pensioners have bus passes, and sometimes they have the audacity to use them. It’s really not a big deal, and it’s certainly not “extravagant”.

        2) Who’s to say that the ‘Ladies Who Bus’ haven’t diligently paid 40+ years of taxes already? Are they really ripping off the treasury by taking a few nice bus trips?

        3) Maybe when you reach retirement age you’ll be content to stay at home, never travel anywhere, and spend the rest of your days neatly reviewing your life’s history of diligently filed tax returns. But these ladies obviously want to enjoy their retirement in a slightly more outgoing way. Is that really such a crime?

        I personally applaud their “pointless 5 year trip”. It brought a smile to my (working taxpayer’s) face.

        • Giorgiana h

          1. The taxpayers point is that they are using them for totally UNNECCESARY and even pointless journeys.
          3. The taxpayers point is that when they retire he or she will HAVE to stay at home because the facility has been withdrawn from ALL because of abuse by some in this way…. They should bear that in mind and pay for such joy riding trips, or they would if they had a conscience!!

          • Geoff Marshall

            so… getting out of the house, engaging with the world, travelling, exploring, giving enjoyment and educating others (via their blog) about parts of London that they have seen that are out there, and feeling like you are doing something with your life rather than just sitting quietly at home waiting to die has somehow become ‘UNNECCESARY’?

            i am shaking my head with sadness, because of the very narrow view that some people have on their lives.

          • Giorgiana

            No, getting out of the house to go off exploring etc is fine, but not at MY or the public purse’s expense!!!! You wouldn’t expect the public purse to pay for an exotic foreign holiday for the bus ladies would you, or going to the bingo, so why is it expected to pay the thousands of pounds this has cost, especially as that is money that can not now be spent on something that IS of value to the community at large…

            I’d like it that all pensioners can still make the journeys that actually MATTER into the future, and I just fear that this kind of blatantly pointless misuse puts that in jeopardy for EVERYONE! Are you getting it yet….?

          • Dave H

            Well I’m a ‘taxpayer’ too (as, potentially, are the ‘Ladies Who Bus’), and I don’t see the use of public transport for leisure purposes as either “unnecessary” or “abuse”.

            Should we interrogate all freedom pass users, at the start of every journey, to ensure that their use of public transport fits some authoritarian classification of “necessary” travel? Maybe we should ban pensioners from using other publicly-funded infrastructure (such as pavements) unless they can prove that they don’t intend to use it for trivial purposes? That’ll teach them.

          • Stuart Dean

            “Working” taxpayer – do your employers know how much time you’re wasting spewing your opinions onto this website instead of knuckling down and earning the all the money you claim to be paying for these bus journeys with?
            Just wondering.

          • Giorgiana

            Quite correct, dave, use of public tranport for leisure trips is not abuse, but use of a FREE PASS for journeys undertaken just for the sake of it IS as far as i am concerned, so Yes, actually… Lets CHARGE THEM for the purely leisure journeys… As councils are so cash strapped that they may have to close the pavements for ALL users, as they can’t afford to properly maintain them any more… Look up “the banjo” in Torquay for a real example… Yes really…

  • MP

    Sadly the comments of Working taxpayer are shared on one of the transport forums where the Freedom Pass known as ENCTS outside of London has been downgraded in Sheffield, where it’s currently free in Sheffield on rail services in the local area and is reverting to being a bus and tram pass which gives free travel between 0900-2300 and all day at weekends.

    However, Working taxpayer clearly doesn’t realise that there is a TfL subsidised ‘Oyster 60+’ card giving free travel for those over 60 who haven’t reached pension age. The council funded Freedom Pass is also subsidised by TfL to allow free travel on TfL services including the bus from 2300-0900 weekdays.

    As long as the scheme is still viable when he reaches 60 and lives in London, he’ll still get free public transport access regardless of the pension age being 68.

    • Working taxpayer

      You’re all playing straight into my hands here!!!
      ….There’s the key…. “still viable”….. (.. Which was my original point – that such jaunts dont help in keeping the scheme able to continue… Everybody will lose out, as is starting to happen in places like Sheffield, and other counties, where the selfish actions of unlimited pointless leisure trippers now end up contributing to the withdrawal of facilities for everyone) …. And you assume i live in london …… what about the 90% of the population, like me who DON’T live in London – I won’t get bugger all till I’m 68, because again, over-use for not even remotely “vital” journeys, like these 5 years worth has already resulted in a withdrawal of facilities for 60 to 67 year olds because the country can’t afford it… Again I say, in the interests of everyone who’d like a pass one day, will the current users try not to take the piss on it and then brag about it too much please… Or just bare that in mind as a point of view… Just cos it’s there doesn’t mean it has to be used just for the sake of it, to the detriment of future users!

      • MP

        So you consider elderly people using those passes not contributing to the local area with the increased tourism it provides to the local economy, which then ensures companies can afford to pay the business rates to your local council, which then goes into subsidising the ENCTS passes you wish to see scrapped.

        When you reach pension age and suddenly find your income goes to pot, you may find the bus pass fine for a one off leisure journey alongside popping to the supermarket or high street.

  • Annabel Smyth

    I’ve been pondering this, and I’m afraid I don’t follow Working Taxpayer’s logic – I mean, the buses are going to be running anyway, so how is travelling on them for free (and it is not just us older ones who have that privilege, but so does every child under 16, and a fair few over!) robbing the taxpayer? If they had to run the buses specially – and indeed, they do, some services, for schoolchildren who don’t pay for the privilege – it would be another story.

    I take it that Working Taxpayer pays for every single journey he or she makes with cash, rather than getting a discounted fare from an Oyster card or even a Travelcard? Otherwise, they too are benefiting from discounts they don’t want other people to!