The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round
Being a Warwick Welcome Service ambassador I give my fair share of campus tours and hence I thought it might be a good idea to address one of the subjects on which I am quizzed the most during these tours: the bus service! With the University and Leamington Spa being between 7 and 8 miles apart, the most common means of transport between the two in your second, third and maybe even fourth year, is the Stagecoach bus service. (Obviously, there is the choice of taking your car to uni or living in Coventry but alas, I have no experience of either of these).
Let’s start with the downsides (which, I must admit, aren’t thin on the ground). The bus pass, which offers unlimited, free travel on Stagecoach busses for the academic year will set you back a cool £301 – worryingly there is also whisper in the wind of this increasing in the coming years. I hear people often justifying this by claiming that it is essentially paid for with money that you save on accommodation but very often the difference between housing on Campus and in Leamington is either negligible or non-existent.
Secondly, there is the physical act of journeying. Sure, it sounds lazy but don’t judge until you actually have to experience getting up an hour before your lectures start just so that you can account for the questionable timetable ran by Stagecoach. This displeasure is only heightened by the worry that you may encounter someone that you ‘kind of know’ and will subsequently be forced to make idle chit-chat with them on the half hour journey when really all either of you wants to do is to pop your music in be done with it all.
Lastly, as previously mentioned, there is the tardiness of the busses. I like to think, that if I must pay £300 for a service that it will be delivered with near faultless execution but I have spent countless minutes (maybe even hours) of my life, lingering at a bus stop while Stagecoach try (admittedly not very hard) to catch back up with the apparently over-ambitious time schedule which they have set out for themselves. In all honesty, late busses aren’t really much a problem as they do come quite frequently but the promise of ‘a bus at least every ten minutes’ is not satisfied on a regular basis.
Conversely, the bus service does have some positives too. For example, it does a great job of dividing a work and home life. Most students at Warwick choose to do most of their studying away from home to save that sacred space for relaxation and a bus service accommodates this very well. You can get onto campus in the morning and at whatever stage in the day you decide that work is finished, you can go back home and do what you like – I’m sure that there is some kind of buddhist-esque, psychological benefit to that.
Although I claimed it to be a negative earlier, the actual bus journey itself can also be considered a blessing in disguise. It gives you a chance to wake up, do any work/reading that you’ve forgotten to do, catch up on email correspondence or even to put on some inspirational music to give you the will-power to see out the day. It isn’t necessarily a good thing to rock up to a lecture half-asleep, with wet hair and the taste of toothpaste fresh in your mouth.
As the last main point in this argument we should consider that the bus pass isn’t just limited to use between the University and Leamington Spa. Stagecoach offer a whole host of services around the local area and that pass gets you on pretty much all of them. For example, the swanky G1 busses which run up and down the parade ‘every 8 minutes’, the shuttle busses which run out to the local retail park and even regular X17/X18 services which run to Coventry. It’s just nice to know that you get a little more for your money.
So, those are, what I would say, the main arguments for and against the Stagecoach bus pass. Naturally, being British, we all love to complain and the bus service does offer plenty of opportunity for that but, at the end of the day, it isn’t all that bad. If it were to be compared with the service in my hometown I would hands down side with Stagecoach. However, having said that, whether you’re a critic or an advocate, Stagecoach bus services are a necessity for a student living in Leamington so it’s best to buckle down and accept it. It certainly isn’t my greatest problem at University and I’m sure it won’t be yours.