Ladies who bus: Forest Hill pensioner among women who bus and blog around London using Freedom Pass
Riding the London buses from end to end: L-R Linda Smither, Mary Rees and Jo Hunt; courtesy of Zara Bishop
A TRIO of pensioners have been bussing and blogging through London for four years to ride the capital’s bus routes from end to end.
Linda Smither, who lives near Honour Oak Road, Forest Hill, undertook the challenge with two in-laws using their Freedom Passes – a free travel pass for Londoners over the age of 62.
The self-named “ladies who bus” meet once a week to explore the city’s bus routes – the most they have travelled is six in a day – and then blog about their experiences.
The 65-year-old said: “The “ladies who bus” is an ironic title to reflect ‘ladies who lunch’.
“It’s horses for courses.
“It is partly social and partly to get to know bits of London we wouldn’t otherwise do.
“Once we had ridden through the snow and cold of spring 2010 we weren’t going to stop!”
The hobby kick-started when the relatives met one Christmas. They began bussing in March 2009 and aim to ride each route in numerical order up to bus number 549.
The bus bloggers have custom-made hoodies and business cards which they hand to drivers to explain their mission.
Mrs Smither said: “We give bus drivers a card to explain why we are quite so peculiar.
“A few of them say we are mad – they do it as a job and can’t see why we would it as a hobby.”
They fill their blog with anecdotes, pictures and titbits of information to do with sights the buses pass.
She said: “We try to make a [blog] entry as interesting as possible [otherwise] it risks being a little anorak-y and nerdy.”
The mother-of-two praised local bus drivers and the value of the pass to see more of the city.
Mrs Smither said: “People in Lewisham say they don’t go north of the river and they are missing an awful lot both ways.
“It is a lifeline for an awful lot of people.
“The drivers are incredibly patient. They are quite unsung heroes.”
Freedom Pass facts
• There are around 1.3million Freedom Pass holders • There are more than 300m bus journeys taken by pass holders a year.
• Those born before May 5 1951 or with a disability are eligible.
• London councils have paid for the scheme for more than two decades.
• Boroughs are paying £317m to fund the pass in 2012/2013.