The Wannabe Rebel’s Guide to London: How to not pay on the bus!

Published on 8 January 2009 in , , , , , , ,

It’s amazing how many niche magazines there are. Cross stiching monthly. Guns and Ammo. Linux Format. Sometimes I just like to peruse the racks in my local newsagent – see what bonkers idea is next. The other day I wasn’t disappointed. The Wannabe Rebel’s Guide to London is fantastic – showing dorks and nerds at school how to get that boost on the old street cred.

So impressed was I that I had to buy it and put a bit here to tell you what you’re missing.

You know the score. You’re a dude. You’re a rebel. In London. Aren’t you?

Whaddya mean you think so. Get rebelling man! Get into the underground!

Whaddya mean you don’t know how to start? Come on man!

Start at the beginning. Don’t start big. Start small.

No. Not bursting into a bank. Not stabbin’ someone.

Nah. Think not paying ya bus fare!

It’s easy. If you know how it’s done.

Some people in London think they know how it’s done.

They all think “Ah, bendy bus. It has lots doors, so I don’t need a ticket. Sorted!”


If they know the best place, so does the ticket inspector! If you were one of them, which kind of bus would you concentrate your time on?

Aha! Yes! The bendy bus!

So if you’re about to try and skip your bus fare, what’s the best way to do it?

Normal bus? No way. You have to get past the driver – tricky. You could try getting on via those middle doors, but those drivers have eyes like hawks. You’ll soon be busted!

There must be a way man! There must be a way!

Well based on years of research, The Wannabe Rebel’s Guide to London can tell all.

Nah, if you want to skip your fare there’s only one bus for it.

The Routemaster.

Routemaster "face"

Photograph by Elsie esq. Used under licence.

Yes dude! The old fashioned one that looks really odd and everyone looked at and goes “Awh” like some sad git.

Wait, I hear you cry!  What about the conductor?! 

Ha.  Don’t make me laugh!  Conductors are no match for the Rebel on a Routemaster!

Not when you know what you’re doing.

The secret is in picking your seat.

See that old Routemaster – and any bus with those old fashioned open backs – is especially designed to help you on the way. The driver has no idea when its safe to leave the bus stop, so has to be told.  And who tells him?  The conductor.

How does the conductor know?  Well because he’s stood on or near the platform. And when it’s safe, he rings the bell!

Whaddya mean how does that help? He’s still checking tickets and collecting cash.

It’s simple muppet!

You sit at the front, on the top deck.

You with me?

No? Bloomin’ hell, how much more do I have to spell this out?

Every time the bus stops, the conductor has to get to the back of bus, downstairs. So they have to keep running up and down stairs yes?

So on a busy bus with lots of tickets to check and lots of stops to make, how on earth are they supposed to make it to the front of the top deck?

Come on – it’s easy dude! They don’t! They never get chance.

They do downstairs cos it’s easy.

They do upstairs at the middle and back cos it’s reasonably easy.

But they never make it to the front cos there’s never time. The bus stops, people get off, people get on. More tickets to check downstairs. More tickets to check upstairs at the back.

And there’s you. At the front. Ultimate rebel.

Whoever said sitting at the front wasn’t cool…

Well there you are. If that wasn’t worth £1.99, I dunno what is. Go out and buy now – this one deserves to run and run!

Although of course Planet Bods does not condone fare evasion – I always travel with a valid ticket myself, cos if I didn’t, I’d be liable for that £50 penalty fare and I don’t want that.

And if you’re really interested, according to this Mayoral Answer in 2005, the fraud rates on nine bendy routes were broadly consistent with the rates when the same routes were previously operated by non-bendy buses, suggesting that whilst evasion on those buses may be deemed “easier” by some, people aren’t necessarily doing so.


  • Andy says:

    Do you have shares in the bendy bus or something? You sound really bitter the bendy is to be replaced by a new generation Routemaster. Or perhaps you’re just bitter Ken lost the last Mayoral elections as I seem to recall you not being entirely happy with the scrapping of the West London C-Charge extension?

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    I’m afraid you slightly miss the point. This post is about the perfect rose tinted view which many people have about of the Routemaster. If you’ve ever read anything recent by Andrew Gilligan, you’d think the Routemaster could solve world hunger and bring piece to Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a great bus – I hop on one at every opportunity – but perfect it is not. And the sooner more people realise that, the sooner we can have a sensible discussion about how best for London to move around.

  • Andy says:

    I agree that you can’t say “Bendy Bus bad; Routemaster good”, although one could certainly claim this post, and ‘Ditching the Bendy Buses – Transport for London consults’ imply you are making the inverse claim. I don’t mid bendy buses as it happens; with the multiple doors it can speed up alighting and boarding; they are generally clean and are don’t suffer from the ‘crowding round the bottom of the stairs’ problem I think you’ve mentioned previously. Anyway, an opinionated post typically makes better reading than one that takes a neutral view! Keep it up.

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    Actually for me, one of the interesting things I’ve found during the whole issue of withdrawing the bendy buses has been to watch what TfL have been saying and doing, and comparing it to what TfL have been instructed to do – and the consultation document was a really good one for reading between the lines. Although one of the reasons I suggested people read it for themselves is to ensure they make their own view!