As a committed car user and regular train traveller, my excursions on Doncaster’s buses are few and far between these days.
Way back when, there would barely be a day go by when I wasn’t waiting around at some draughty bus stop somewhere or another in Doncaster, frustratedly for an invariably late double decker to lumber into view.
It is so much easier to jump behind the wheel, no having to hang around with intimidating other types looking at you all funny or freezing slowly to death in the wait for a number 56 to swing around the corner.
However, the other day, due to circumstances beyond my control (OK, my train was late and I missed my connection) I was forced to venture into the Interchange to catch a bus and complete my journey.
Now, of course, I’ve been in the bus station plenty of times and I don’t have anything against jumping aboard a bus.
What surprised me however were the gangs of teens, wandering around, shouting, swearing and generally being bothersome towards other passengers, patiently waiting for their journeys home.
There seemed to be a swathe of hi-viz wearing security guards, shepherding the groups from one concourse to another, the whole time the proceedings being soundtracked by a volley of grunts and four-letter words from the visibly upset ‘youths’ being forced to move on.
Now I realise that it was the tail-end of the school Christmas holidays and that the Interchange offers a warm, safe haven and, more importantly, acres of seats for the town’s bored and disaffected teens to lounge around on, but what it doesn’t offer in this tech-savvy day and age is that all important lifeblood for the youth of today, and that’s a phone signal.
The basement of the interchange is one of those places (like parts of The Dome and Doncaster Racecourse) that seems to suffer from a somewhat ropey connection.
So it made a pleasant change to see people actually chatting to each other as they awaited their buses, rather than staring vacantly and prodding away at the smartphone in their hand.
Having a teen who’s totally obsessed with his mobile and social media, I was surprised that the interchange concourses seemed such an inviting spot to hang on, bearing in mind the total inability to get a connection to find out what was happening on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or, as I’m reliably informed but which I have no knowledge of, Snapchat.
As for the transport itself, well, it was refreshing to see that the bus was still satisfyingly late and that bus drivers still appear to go to that charm school where charm and a smiling face seem to be well down the list of priorities.
Mind, as soon as we exited the underground part, the phones were back out and normal life resumed.