Look at these. Photo of the type of bus I used to take, the type of bus-stop and bus-tickets in the bygone days. We can no longer see this type of bus on the road, bus-tickets were no longer existing, there is still one such old-fashioned bus-stop at Old Choa Chu Kang Road near Tengah Airbase.
I started taking public bus when I was 8 years old (in 1979). One year later, when I was in Primary 3, my family moved to Ang Mo Kio. Journey was painful 1 hour 30 minutes from Ang Mo Kio home to school at Toa Payoh. At that time, taking bus was not comfortable like today. Bus was noisy, non-airconditioned, dirty. No such thing called Ezlink. Everything was inconvenient, backward. Service was crappy. Bus-driver was confined in a cage-like area, undisturbed by passengers. Passengers had to tolerate poor service of bus-conductor. Bus tickets were strewn all over the floor. Cockroaches a common sight. The bus had no door, I would say it’s just an opening to let people aboard and alight, at the same place. When bus got crowded, passengers attempted to hold on the handle at the side and hang on while bus moved. Safety was a non-issue. It was dangerous but people didn’t care.
Windows always got jammed. Whenever it rained, the bus became very warm because all windows closed. Some lazy fellows could not even bother to close the shutter letting rain come in and wet the seats. Whenever there was flood at the village road, bus would detour without notification, leaving passengers high and dry. Back then, technology was backward, there was no mobile phone for communication. Having experience life this way at young age trained me to be more resourceful, more observant and able to react fast in problem-solving because there were no lack of opportunity to practice.
Have you ever experienced falling from the seat and almost rolled down the stairs, out of the bus when the bus negotiated a sharp turn (Serangoon Garden Circus)?
Have you ever experienced not able to call for help to press the bell at the ceiling because you were too short, bus-conductor fall asleep, bus-driver out of reach and no one could heard you shout?
Could you imagine having a cockroach crawling to you, hid in a slit of skirt, having that disgusting ticklish feeling at the tummy and had to tolerate this throughout the whole journey?
Have you ever chased after the bus, and hop along trying to got on the bus as it moved, just because student concession became void after 9pm?
I experienced them all…
Was your childhood game like mine, collecting bus-tickets on the floor, bundled them on a cardboard, got a stapler and role-played bus-conductor? My father even made a bus-conductor bag for me and got me a bus-conductor look-alike “uniform”.
Those were the days!