When I told people that I was going to get the coach from London to Folkestone, to visit my parents, the reaction was generally one of surprise. First I was asked if I was feeling okay and then I was reminded that "coaches are for old people and students". I was even offered the use of a Lexus for three days by some well meaning relatives.
Now to be fair for the last 30 years or so I have always driven down to the coast, but I decided that I would give the coach a chance, and at £5 for a single journey it seemed like an attractive alternative - at least financially!
So how did the coach fair? Well I was promised leather seats, wifi (on some journeys) a toilet and an electrical charge point for my gadgets. Unfortunately only the first of these was actually available. However I did have some additional items thrown in that were not really journey enhancing, including pigeons at Victoria coach station and a 15 minute delay. On the positive side the booking process online was seamless, the driver was both courteous and helpful (even loading and unloading baggage for those of us brave enough to be separated from our possessions). Time-wise the driver did manage to catch up a few minutes but at just under three hours from our scheduled departure I decided to check out the competition for the return journey.
So here I am sitting on the hi-speed train and I only have 55 minutes to write this blog - a huge saving of over two hours in terms of journey time! This is a major plus but obviously comes at a cost financially - after online booking fees it's a shade under £30 for a super off-peak single. Also there's still no sign of wifi or an electrical socket and I'm not up for looking for a toilet for fear of losing my table seat.
So I will revert to driving for my next visit, especially as my wife will be with me and so the car will once again win on time and price. A shame really as I'm sure that more people would use "public transport" more for leisure trips if it better met customer needs in terms of price, time and additional services.
How about train journeys at coach prices? Now that would be interesting!
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