Monday 8 December 2014

It's a bus, not a Tardis

To anybody with a scrap of common sense, it is obvious that a bus is a finite space which is smaller on the inside than the outside.   This means there is a limit to how many people you can cram in, and that the dominant operating mode is first-come, first-served, without regard to who most needs the ride or who is doing the most important journey.

Does a wheelchair-bound oncologist trying to get to her clinic to treat her patients have a higher priority than a wheelchair user who unfortunately suffered massive head trauma and is being taken out for a day by his carer?   Should we chuck the one with the head injury off the bus if the oncologist wants to get on later, on the grounds that she is more important, and moreover, female and unaccompanied?

Clearly, we cannot stack them up on top of one another, although we could do things such as sending one of them by cab - which frankly, is much cheaper than building them each a separate bus in order to bolster the German bus-building industry. 

If you are a politician, though, particularly an MEP, the concept of finite space and money seems like a quaint notion.  They assume that just by waving a magic wand, it will make bus floors expand and there will never, ever, be competition for the precisely the same space on a bus.  In the manner of out-of-touch aristocrats, they cheerfully pluffed-up their self-righteousness and decreed that henceforth, wheelchair users and similar must be carried.

They were warned that this would inevitably mean that one day, there would be a stand-off between people using wheeled conveyances,  having a fruitless argument about who was entitled to that particular space.

That day came.  Most people seem to be misled by the irrelevancies; was there other space, is the fact that a baby cannot walk the same as a wheelchair user not being able to walk, should we take in to account the urgency of the journey, does gender matter? What about if the child is disabled and in one of those over-sized buggies?  Those things are all irrelevant. They are just fact-sensitive examples which do not change the underlying problem.

All that matters is that you cannot get two people in to the same space, which means you either stick with 'first come, first served' or you start chucking people off buses and create a Byzantine rule-base for deciding priorities.  The bus drivers would have to be uprated to constables and also have a degree in philosophy, because they are going to be spending most of their time arbitrating cases and kicking people off .  And all the buses will be late because they don't get on with the important thing: driving the bus.

You cannot get two buses in to the same space either, so somebody is going to have to make up their mind to get on the next one, or get a taxi.  Providing there is another one behind, this is is the best which can be managed under the present time-space continuum.

In a rare outbreak of common sense, the Court of Appeal has ruled that if Parliament wants to suspend the laws of physics, it must pass laws to that effect.  Good luck with that.