Hold Tight! - Fare game?
Chapter 4
Page 18
Hold Tight!
Chapter 4
18 Fare game?
19 Ten bob fiddler
20 Back to front
21 Fareham tales
22 Baby blues
23 Winter blues
24 Double trouble
25 Bus companies
26 Get lost
27 Time to move
1 Beginnings
2 Learning
3 Getting Away
4 Winchester
5 Freedom
6 Southampton
7 City Transport
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One of the results of doing the same duty for a week was that many of the people you picked up on the Monday would be your passengers every day that week.
Our routes out of Winchester bus station operated via North Walls. Each afternoon a group of school kids caught the bus home to Chandlers Ford from here. On the Monday one of these sat at the front of the bus seemingly without a care in the world. But as soon as I reached him his nature changed and he said he had lost his bus fare. Throughout the week, same journey, same child, different story. His money had been stolen, dropped and forgotten. On the Thursday I happened to look back as we pulled away from the stop where he got off and saw him go up to a woman, presumably his mother, and walk away.
Friday afternoon and he had no money for his fare. As we approached the bus stop I could see the woman standing a short distance away. I called to her and before I could explain what had happened she said "Oh no, he hasn't lost his bus fare again has he? How much do you want?". I asked for and to my surprise got the whole week's money!
Some people would go to enormous lengths to avoid paying the whole fare, asking for one stop then getting off at another or looking out of the window hoping you would miss them. Many of these people were quite capable of paying and would complain if anyone stole from them. Like the woman who lived in an expensive house at Hiltingbury and claimed I must have pocketed a halfpenny when I showed her she had only given me seven halfpennies for her fourpenny fare. Bus conductors were somehow fare game and even wealthy people were prepared to steal from them.
Other tricks regularly employed to take money directly from the conductor included paying with a two shilling piece and claiming it had been a half-crown or with a ten shilling note and claiming it was a pound. The way to deal with these people was to keep the money in your other hand while counting the change to them otherwise you would have to make up for the shortage.
Often when challenged people would say something like "the bus company can afford it". They simply didn't understand that we had to make up the difference, the company never stood any loss.
Having said all that, we operated a more liberal policy when it came to other bus crews and their families. Before the days of free travel we were reluctant to take money from each other. Whatever the reason, if an inspector got on and you had a passenger without a valid ticket you got booked, so you had to be on your toes.
But sometimes any number of inspectors could miss something right under their noses .....
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