There has been an unusually large number of Arriva bus learner drivers on the road this week, all of them apparently on the rush hour bus from Knaphill Sainsburys to Woking train station.
Now, I can understand that drivers will need to learn the route and get used to the fare system. But is it really a good idea to do this when man, woman and dog are using the bus to get to work first thing in the morning? I’ve been delayed by 15-20 minutes each time.
Today was the worst day by far. The bus turned up nearly 10 minutes late. As we sauntered at a leisurely pace around Goldsworth Park, picking up new passengers as we went, we were eventually overtaken by another bus heading in our direction.
As we made our way along Lockfield Drive, we were rear ended by a car. I certainly felt it being sat right at the back along the back row. Although at first I thought the bus had caught the kerb, but nope, a car had run into us.
Thankfully we were able to overtake the other bus before all this happened, and therefore didn’t have to wait long before it caught up and were able to catch that for the rest of the journey into Woking town centre.
Having missed my usual train, and the following one after that, the third train was late.
Well. We’ve just returned to the stone age with South Worst Trains South West Trains.
I’ve been using my South West Trains Smart Card just fine for the past month. I had bought the contactless portion at Woking station’s ticket machines using the season ticket renewal option.
Today when I tried to do the same thing, the machine told me – several times, and most insistently, that it couldn’t find any season tickets. I could buy regular train tickets for the card, and a 7 day pass between Woking and Guildford – but not a monthly. So I walked up to the ticket office who told me that they don’t support these contactless cards and could only offer me paper tickets. Talk about a step backwards!
Grudgingly I had to go for the paper route as I had to catch the next train to Guildford. But before I went for my daily coffee fix at Costa, I went to one of the ticket office kiosks and asked if they were able to handle contactless cards. Nope. They couldn’t even read them. All HQ’s fault, apparently.
What I don’t understand is why this worked before and now it doesn’t. The system was working beautifully for the month I had the contactless card. In/out at the barriers with not one single hassle. Now I’ve got to go back to using paper tickets which wear out easily (often necessitating me to go and get it replaced), and thumble to pull the ticket out each time.
This is 2016, FFS, not the time of Doctor Beeching.
And when I tried to log into the South West Trains web site, not only am I not able to determine what my credentials are (I have them saved in my password management utility, but they’re not being accepted), but I’m getting this old chestnut:
I wanted to check if I could buy the ticket in advance (although I’d still have to get the Plusbus component at the ticket office as SWT has never supported Plusbus on tickets longer than a week at the ticket machines).
I may be learning to drive with the intention of replacing buses and trains with a car so I can drive door-to-door from home to work (and vice versa), but it may be a few more months yet. In the meantime, the good news is that South West Trains has finally brought out a smart card which is used like an Oyster card to get through the ticket barriers without the wear and tear on paper tickets.
I’ve just registered to get one, and hopefully I’ll never have to spend time getting my monthly ticket replaced because the ticket machines have chewed/destroyed them. Apparently the Plus Bus aspect will still work, but obviously that bit will remain paper (which is fair enough because you only have to show that to the driver – it goes nowhere near a machine).
You can get more information and register for a South West Trains smart card here.