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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Nanny rules

Count the number of cautionary signs inside this section of a Blackpool bus... This is without the mandatory seating and standing capacity which cannot be seen on the side of the staircase. Just a small segment of the signage plastered throughout the lower deck to inform (or annoy) the public who as far as I can see give little or no attention, unless they are a young mother pushing her baby mobility traveller on to the bus accompanied with offspring and wanting that assigned space.

Once upon a time long long ago - a ride on a tram or a bus was actually free from advertising. Admonishments to passengers, and there were a few, mostly had to do with the number of standing passengers allowed, smoking only permitted on the top deck (sorry Saloon in Blackpool), and don't attempt to get off the bus or tram while it is in motion. The latter caution being ignored in the main due to the fact that nearly all buses had open rear platforms, whilst some trams were similarly so endowed. Tram platform doors were only to be opened by the Conductor of course.

Over the years, external advertising took over mid deck panels and rear panels on buses (and trams), gradually working its way over and around the entire bodywork, including passenger (but not driver!) windows. Today's travellers/customers are confronted with a plethora of warnings and cautions of a discrete or firm nature liberally sprinkled it seems on every available surface. Blackpool's light rail vehicles aka trams - are by now well endowed with cautionary notices that extend to verbal advice on ensuring one hang's on when the tram is about to depart/arrive or otherwise accelerate from a stationary position.

Apart from the essential No Smoking advisory notices which by now the UK public are well aware of - except possibly those arriving legally (or illegally) from far off places with little knowledge of our native tongue; overkill has grabbed health and safety apparatchiks in their zeal to prevent people from overstepping boundaries of correct behaviour, which we are now expected to observe to the nth degree. I hate to think of the overtime which would have accrued had this mindset been around fifty or sixty years ago when open platform buses chased? around Blackpool with passengers 'nipping off' at places other than 'Bus Stops' (or tram stops). Then there was an inevitable rich abundance (and aroma) of exotic pipe tobacco and Woodbines or Players Please on the upper deck. Transport operators went so far as to embed striking plates on the rear of top deck seats to facilitate 'lighting up' by passengers; whilst quite elaborate hooded ashtrays were also fitted for their convenience. As far as I can recall the number of accidents involving falling off a bus or tram were few and far between, despite the prevalence of open rear platform buses being full of passengers intent on a quick exit when nearing the Bus Station or terminus. There are certainly instances recorded of passengers being fatally injured by a loose trolleyhead falling onto an open top tram and descending on the head of an unfortunate who happened to be seated at the rear of the car. This also could blight someone in the street as said tram swung around a curve disgorging on its journey a piece of ironmongery on to an unsuspecting pedestrian. This particular hazard of tram travel received no such cautionary notice however: (Passengers are /advisedwarned not to sit on seats directly under the trolleyhead)?

Health and Safety be damned. Glasgow morning shoppers waiting for the 'caur' to stop as it rounds a corner of St Georges Square on the 23 service to Maryhill - with nay a care in the world and only sunshine and fresh air to contend with. Not a warning sign or high viz monitor in sight. Photo : Copyright John Woodman

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