Free and easy on the buses

So, taxi drivers are complaining about Uber. A century ago, they were complaining about these new-fangled motor buses. Nothing ever changes, does it?

On the first Saturday that a motor bus tried to take passengers to the races from the rank in St. George’s Terrace there was almost a riot. Angry cab drivers gathered round and shouted threats and curses. Anybody who attempted to enter the bus was vigorously hooted. Nevertheless the bus got a load and made a successful trip to the races and back.

On the Belmont run, ‘when knighthood was in flower,’ it was the custom when the bus was overcrowded for a lady to rise and let a gentleman occupy her seat; she would then sit on his knee. Free and easy were the conditions of those days.

On one occasion the driver, who was ‘under the influence,’ had an argument with a passenger as to whether he had placed 2/6 or 2/ in the glass-sided collecting fare-box.

To settle the argument the driver and the passenger left the bus and went into Barrack Street, where there was a lighted shop. There they, continued to argue, but were interrupted by a policeman, who arrested them both and charged them with stealing a tramway fare collection box.

When in due course this news reached the waiting passengers in the bus, they decided to go as an informal deputation to the police station to interview the sergeant in charge. Acting on their entreaties, the sergeant sent a constable to fetch the driver from the lock-up.

When the driver arrived the sergeant said that obviously he was drunk. “Oh, he is all right,” volunteered a lady passenger, “I’ve sat beside him before when he was like this, and I always pull the bus back if it goes off the road.”

Satisfied that the bus would be in good hands, the sergeant released him.