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London Bus Stops 2001-2005
November 1, 2012 10:47 PM   Subscribe

Every few minutes of the day, all over the capital, people gather into small groups to share the same space and fleeting moment in time... simply to wait for something routine and forgettable as a London bus. In transient, with time to kill, and often among strangers, each collection of these individuals proves completely unique from the next. Each collection provides a little insight into London's incredible diversity, how they relate to their surroundings, and each other. The very deliberate intention with By the Bus Stop, was to capture those little moments which happen spontaneously, when the meeting of individuals is completely left to chance.

All of these images were captured on film roll by Richard Hooker between 2001 and 2005. To see more of his work look here.
posted by netbros (37 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
These are great. Thanks.
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:03 PM on November 1, 2012


They're gorgeous in and of themselves, but I think almost all of them would make for compelling writing prompts, as well.
posted by davidjmcgee at 11:04 PM on November 1, 2012


Do no talk to me when I'm waiting for a bus in the morning. Not even if I know you. The earphones are not coming out.
posted by panaceanot at 12:42 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


London buses carry absolutely every culture of the world - apart from those sporting pearls and tweed (who are brought up to travel the city only in 4 wheel drive transport).
posted by rongorongo at 2:11 AM on November 2, 2012


London spoiler: people mostly look forward and pretend the other people don't exist, whilst playing with a mobile device or reading the Metro. Twice if required.
posted by jaduncan at 2:12 AM on November 2, 2012


As a panaceanot's comment indicates and as most of these photos suggest, in London we do not talk at bus stops unless we know each other, and sometimes not even then.
posted by Decani at 2:13 AM on November 2, 2012


I'd just like to add that the temporary edit feature is the greatest feature Mefi has ever introduced. Ever.
posted by Decani at 2:15 AM on November 2, 2012


As a panaceanot's comment indicates and as most of these photos suggest, in London we do not talk at bus stops unless we know each other, and sometimes not even then.

I once sat on the top deck of a bus for about 20mins before realising my own wife was sitting about two seats in front of me.

Turned out she'd gotten on about two stops earlier, but both of us had been so locked in "no one else exists" mode that we hadn't noticed each other, despite me having to pass within a couple of inches of her to get to my seat.

Frankly the only reason I finally spotted her was because I looked up briefly and thought:

"Hmmm. That woman's got one of those desigual coats, same as my...

...hang on a minute."
posted by garius at 2:24 AM on November 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


10 mins between stops in London?
posted by mannequito at 2:40 AM on November 2, 2012


London buses carry absolutely every culture of the world - apart from those sporting pearls and tweed (who are brought up to travel the city only in 4 wheel drive transport).

They carry the pearls and tweed crew too. Jump on a bus outside Peter Jones and be surprised at who gets on. Old school landowning money that still has money made it through the sixties and seventies by learning how to not waste cash.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:42 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Old school landowning money that still has money made it through the sixties and seventies by learning how to not waste cash.

Addition: Attempting to drive to and park in many parts of London rather than taking a bus or the Tube is the act of a lunatic.
posted by jaduncan at 2:54 AM on November 2, 2012


In the future, when people ask me what it's like living in London, I'm going to just point them towards these photos.
posted by fight or flight at 3:20 AM on November 2, 2012


I recognise way too many of these bus stops.
posted by toerinishuman at 3:35 AM on November 2, 2012


If you ever want to explode the lie that the English enjoy queuing, catch a busy London bus.
posted by liquidindian at 3:36 AM on November 2, 2012


Depends, liquidindian. Some bus stops can be a bit of a free-for-all, but uber-busy interchanges nearly always end up with some kind of orderly queue system evolving eventually, enforced by the regular commuters, because no-one likes anarchy every morning.

But yeah, if its not usual for that stop to be busy, then it's entirely possible that the boarding will end up looking like a fight for the last chopper out of Saigon.
posted by garius at 3:53 AM on November 2, 2012


You wait ages for a picture to load and then another one appears.

Now that's how you do a London bus stop photo gallery.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:59 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Weird, spent ages trying to load the page then this error message came up: "ERROR 409: This page may experience delays or cancellations from 0600 Wednesday 12 September until 1600 Wednesday 07 November, due to lane closures to facilitate gas works."
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:07 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


>If you ever want to explode the lie that the English enjoy queuing, catch a busy London bus.

Depends, liquidindian. Some bus stops can be a bit of a free-for-all, but uber-busy interchanges nearly always end up with some kind of orderly queue system evolving eventually, enforced by the regular commuters, because no-one likes anarchy every morning.


Hmm, where's that classic MeFite story about a London bus queue-jumper from a few years ago... ah here we go.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:09 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


no-one likes anarchy every morning

Not the bus, I know, but the Reading to Paddington train suggests otherwise. There are stewards employed to keep order.
posted by liquidindian at 4:18 AM on November 2, 2012


I've taken the Reading-Paddington train. I thought the stewards were there to get the train off efficiently by 1) being there to help anyone that needs assistance 2) getting the doors closed and signalling with their hand-signs and whistles to each other that this train is ready to go.

I've never seen them enforce queues or order.
posted by vacapinta at 4:26 AM on November 2, 2012


Maybe I've just been unlucky. It just seems that people need to relearn every time that people need to get off before anyone gets on.

Sorry, this is getting off the point a little. I like the photos.
posted by liquidindian at 4:31 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This collection left me a bit flat. Maybe I'm jaded from waiting too long for busses, but I'm not seeing the incredulity in either the composition or the diversity. They just look like bus stops and while there are some indicators of Britain and thereby London, they look as if they could have been taken anywhere.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:32 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm visiting London currently, and I keep breaking the eye contact rule by accident. I must look earnest and goofy enough, though, because people keep grinning back at me.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:53 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


EndsOfInvention - yeah, it was my years commuting through Victoria and switching to bus there that I was thinking of in terms of "order eventually emerges."

Mind you, I haven't done that commute for a long time now, so maybe rail-to-bus commuters these days are a far more unruly lot than I ever was.

Kids today... etc.
posted by garius at 4:58 AM on November 2, 2012


Oh I didn't realise I both quoted you and linked to your story as well, haha.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:08 AM on November 2, 2012


City of Strangers
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:19 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


They're gorgeous in and of themselves, but I think almost all of them would make for compelling writing prompts, as well.

I found myself thinking this as well. Each of these pictures seems to be telling a story about its inhabitant's lives in an oddly compelling, yet comfortable way. Their ordinariness makes them a little extraordinary, actually.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:16 AM on November 2, 2012


So, have you ever done that thing at a crowded bus stop where you look intently up at the blank sky for a minute or so, then everybody else at the bus stop wants to know what you're looking at, then you've got 10 people all looking intently up at the blank sky?
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:36 AM on November 2, 2012


In Auggie's New York smoke shop, day by day passes, seemingly unchanging until he teaches us to notice the little details of life.


Not the same location every time here, but this reminds me a bit of Auggie Wren in the movie 'Smoke', taking a picture from the same spot of the people passing through one corner almost every day, for years on end.
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 6:37 AM on November 2, 2012


>>London buses carry absolutely every culture of the world - apart from those sporting pearls and tweed (who are brought up to travel the city only in 4 wheel drive transport).

MuffinMan: They carry the pearls and tweed crew too. Jump on a bus outside Peter Jones and be surprised at who gets on. Old school landowning money that still has money made it through the sixties and seventies by learning how to not waste cash.

MuffinMan,
My thoughts went straight to the pearly tweedy bus riders aiming for Peter Jones too!
Specifically, the one in the Kings Road near Sloane Square. The Number 11 used to be an amazing pot pourri back in the day - real punks & weekend poseurs heading to display themselves outside Sloane Square tube rubbing shoulders with tweedy trouts buying table linens at Peter Jones -the latter rich enough, probably, to afford a taxi but it was pointless because Kings Road was always clogged.

I used to wonder if any other route had so many passengers all openly sneering at each other!

Lovely post - thanks.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:43 AM on November 2, 2012


Do no talk to me when I'm waiting for a bus in the morning. Not even if I know you. The earphones are not coming out.

There are other perspectives:
Bus Stop, wet day, she's there, I say
Please share my umbrella
Bus stops, bus goes, she stays, love grows
Under my umbrella

All that summer we enjoyed it
Wind and rain and shine
That umbrella, we employed it
By August, she was mine

Every mornin' I would see her waiting at the stop
Sometimes she'd shop and she would show me what she bought
All the people stared as if we were both quite insane
Someday my name and hers are going to be the same

That's the way the whole thing started
Silly but it's true
Thinkin' of a sweet romance
Beginning in a queue

Came the sun, the ice was melting
No more sheltering now
Nice to think that that umbrella
Led me to a vow . . .
posted by Herodios at 8:06 AM on November 2, 2012


Can I just say that London's bus system has the absolute best wayfinding anywhere?

The signs are useful and gorgeous, while the "spider maps" displayed at each stop are a wonderful way for newcomers to figure out where they can go from a given stop. They've also got a neat system for organizing areas with tons of adjacent bus stops -- each stop has a big letter on top, a map showing all of the nearby lettered stops, and a listing of the routes that serve those stops.

The fact that all this works quite well is even more impressive when you consider that London's street grid is completely insane. It makes Boston look like a carefully planned city by comparison.

It's a great example of what you get when you build a bus system that you actually want people to use. I honestly can't name a single American city that takes its bus system seriously, but can name several that use theirs as a rather explicit form of institutional racism/classism.

posted by schmod at 8:11 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Being a cyclist I generally avoid the bus as it feels like it takes sooo long to get anywhere. But if you have a book and don't mind it taking a bit longer its ok.

But i'm quite grateful to live in a city where you don't need to own a car and getting the bus or the tube is the normal means of transport. Sydney was similar but the public transport links there are not quite as good as London.
posted by mary8nne at 9:47 AM on November 2, 2012


Did that website just download over a 100mb of data?
posted by palbo at 3:12 PM on November 2, 2012


I didn't see one wheelchair or electric disability scooter - why is that, I wonder? Our buses carry two wheelchairs/scooters at a time, along with the mobile passengers, and it's usual for there to be at least one wheelchair onboard. As the baby boomers come into their "golden years," there will be more and more disabled riding the buses, so I'm glad it's common procedure here, but I can't help but wonder if London buses don't carry wheelchairs.
posted by aryma at 3:57 PM on November 2, 2012


Why do some of the bus shelters face away from the road?
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:27 PM on November 3, 2012


Rarebit Fiend: That was asked in Ask Metafilter.
posted by vacapinta at 7:15 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


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