Execrable bus company who, sadly, I deal with pretty much every day. Formed as Cowie in Sunderland, has since infested the rest of the nation, ironically taking their name from the verb "to arrive" (ironic for reasons I'll explain later). Their logo is a strange globe thing which appears raised and shadowed, representing their modern nature: which would be nice if Arriva were at all modern.

Arriva operates in areas around the country as far apart as Yorkshire and the Shires (in the form of Arriva Shires and Essex, as they want to be known). Their buses are heralded by a thick smell of diesel fuel and engine noise to match. On stepping inside, you have one of two options.

  • (1/50 chance) You're on one of Arriva's new buses on the 52 route, where there's air conditioning and spiffier seats, remniscent of the thin-yet-comfy ones on old Network South East trains. You'll know this because you actually like your surroundings and there's no lingering smell of stale cigarettes.
  • (49/50 chance) You're on one of Arriva's old buses; double or single decker, they're both nasty, with cramped aisles, stained seats, windows which townies have graffitoed and, if you're very lucky, some marker pen swastikas and "die Pakis die" (I swear to god I saw that once. Not nice). You'll know this because the bus is on fire.

Naturally, you will be skanked and given the latter bus. However, the newer ones are very nice and I'm happy to go out of my way to get on one.

The people on the buses fall into several groups. You get the people who simply refuse to go upstairs on the bus with no valid reason whatsoever, usually with a small bag of shopping which they are loathe to put in the bag hold which Arriva, in an atypical display of common sense, have provided. Then there's the smokers, who sit at the back of the bus and fill it with acrid smoke-if you try to open a small side window to remove the smoke and enable you to, you know, live, then you'll be shouted at to "CLOSE DA FUCKIN' WINDOW" and naturally, you'll have to oblige; if you don't, they'll close it for you, because everyone must enjoy their cigarette smoke, whether they want to or not. After these, you get the loud Year 9 kids. These are the least fun. They spit at you, throw things at you and have a tendency to say the words "poo" and "willy" with gay abandon, obviously believing these to be the best words in the English language. They generally get kicked off of the bus for squirting Capri-Sun out of the windows (no word of a lie) and also enjoy making life misery for other people. Their vocabulary is limited to the following words, in addition to the "poo" and "willy" defined above:

  • gay
  • you

For their part, the drivers are friendly and helpful, and to be fair they take a lot of shit from passengers (including, one memorable morning, the guy who didn't have any money for a ticket so reached round and ordered himself a ticket on the Waymaster machine. This was the same bus with the swastikas) every day. However, there have been some brilliant cockups, such as the driver who scraped the bus along a road sign, and then the other one did it again later that day at a completely different stop, and even then the time that a driver (a single driver) went on a wildcat strike and left his bus at the bottom of a hill with lots of schoolkids in it (I wonder why...). It's a tossup whether your bus is late or early, most often late, sometimes on time but only on days when miracles occur does the bus actually ever come early (frankly, there is more chance of Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed (PBUH) all coming to my door with a keg of beer and some whores than an Arriva bus coming early). Most of the time it is neither late or early, just on fire.

Some more humdingers:

  • The year 8 girl who proudly recited what she'd learnt from her sex education class about the "male knob" very loudly in front of the whole bus, which was packed at the time, and claimed she could do it because she was a girl (one of those extremely annoying mad right wing feminist attitudes that drives me utterly, utterly insane). She also called me posh because I used words with more than 2 syllables in them to tell her to STFU.
  • The obscenely crowded bus. This was a form of hell which I never wish to go through again. The bus was above capacity, both floors were full. I was standing, along with 15 other people. There were roadworks, and the whole journey took an hour and a half. There were the Year 9s on the floor above me spitting on my head, and obody could get off until a stop a few miles away because it was so full nobody could leave their seats. Unhappily, this has also happened on days when some bright spark decides to put a single decker bus on a route on which most double deckers are full to capacity.
  • The woman who decided to play the same song at the same time every morning on the same bus at the same loud volume with the same annoying repetitive beat which sounded like the same goddamn spoons hitting the same goddamn mug. I wanted to STRANGLE HER and throw her Walkman out the window, I did. I have no idea how I kept my sanity and pulled myself back from the brink of turning into a psychopath.
  • The bus driver who, not wishing to strike and leave kids stranded, defied union orders and drove his bus anyway. The union phoned him and ordered him back, and he was forced to drop ALL the kids off at the nearest stop. And all the passengers. Leaving them stranded...
  • Finally, the French nuclear company who chose a new name which represents integrity, excellence and commitment to service. Something dynamic, something fresh, something which in the public eye symbolises quality. What was it? Areva. I ask you...

If you are ever in Britain, my advice to you is to avoid Arriva buses like the plague. They are late, smelly and full of townies. Anybody who can give me an example of a good journey on an Arriva bus is in a very small minority.
Sources: Personal experience, Sat^H^H^HArriva
I just got a /msg from driven, which is very, very worrying. I was actually using jokey hyperbole when talking about Arriva buses on fire, to symbolise how dysfunctional and shitty the network is, and no sooner do I do that but I hear this...

"This writeup is slanderous and subjective in the extreme...it's also very true. I thought the bit about the fire was an exageration until my girlfriend told me she had actually witnessed a 'flamin' arriva'. Apparently the evacuated passengers were standing around laughing... I think this says it all really.".

Satire Mimicking Life, Exhibit A.

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