Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fares Please

Some time ago I wrote about our family's transportation in post war Britain. It was a pleasant surprise to come across a tangible memento of those days.

This is a tuppenny hapenny bus ticket issued by London Transport. When I first started riding on buses there was a driver, who had no contact with passengers, and a conductor, who held the color-coded tickets on a wooden board with springs, not unlike a series of mousetraps. This contraption was replaced by a machine with a roll of paper. The conductor punched in the relevant information and out came a ticket like the one in the photo. Since most buses were the iconic red double deckers and the conductor could be upstairs when the passengers boarded, there was a certain amount of honor involved, because fares were calculated from the point of boarding to the destination.

Some time later as buses were re-designed and transportation costs needed to be cut, the system was changed, conductors were eliminated and fares handed over to the driver on entry.

Oh, and that tuppenny hapenny business? Back then our currency consisted of pounds, shillings and pence. Twelve pence = one shilling, twenty shillings=one pound. A halfpenny, pronounced hapenny was legal tender as was the bright copper coin equal to half a hapenny, i.e. a farthing. Of course, England eventually switched to a decimal system and it is a source of some embarrassment for me when I am in England that I have to rummage through my wallet like someone who is completely ignorant of the system. Which I just about am. Give me a thrupenny bit any day.

1 comment:

John Hetzler said...

This is a great story. I love the farecard.