Fill A Free 'b' Bus Flashmob!
Editor note: This event is being organised independently by a group of people in Cardiff who have got together to express their views about the Free 'B' Bus service. There are a number of young people from theSprout editorial group who are supporting this campaign although it has not been organised by theSprout.
"Fill a Free 'b'" Flashmob!
This Friday. 4:30pm.
Meet at Free 'b' Bus stop (outside Tesco Express) on St Mary Street.
I have two questions for you:
1) How would you like to be on the news this Friday at 4:30pm?
If your answer is "That sounds fun" then answer the next question:
2) Have you ever travelled on the Cardiff Free 'b' Bus?
This question was asked at the last Sprout Editorial Group Meeting: 8 people said "No" and the rest looked puzzled and asked: "There's a free bus? Where does it go?" When we told them they unenthusiastically went "Oh," and carried on drinking their tea.
They're pretty easy to spot: bright yellow buses with black stripes (free 'bee', geddit?) and they've been driving around Cardiff every day for 6 months now. It's a great idea in theory... but virtually nobody uses them. They don't go to Cardiff Bay. They don't go to the airport. In fact, all they do is go in a loop from Central Station to Queen St Station (which is about a 10 minute walk for most people). YourCardiff even have a "Snap The Free 'b' Bus" campaign running, where people are encouraged to submit photos of these buses to illustrate how frequently empty they are.
Almost £150,000 has been spent launching and running the service and some residents of Cardiff say that money is being wasted and should be spent on something better.
They plan to raise awareness of this issue by coordinating a flash mob of people to all catch the Free 'b' Bus at once, and getting featured on local news as "Breaking News: People Actually Use The Free 'b' Bus For Once!"
To make the journey interesting it will include a tour guide, and to ensure all the seats are filled you are encouraged to bring toys, mannequins and cardboard cut-outs. There will also be a news crew filming this spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime event!
"We're also getting a team to walk the same route as the bus, just to prove that it's actually quicker – not to mention healthier – to walk," says Nathan Collins, who is organising this event. "And if anyone wants to bring a bicycle, we'll give you a video camera and a timer – we're sure you could beat the bus as well."
They are looking for as many volunteers as possible to make this a success, so if you'd like the chance to show your support for the campaign – and to appear on the news – then join the "Stop the Free 'b' Bus" Facebook group or leave a comment below.
If you got the bus into town then chances are you have a Day To Go, so you can jump on any bus anyway. And if you have a physical limitation (such as old age or a disability) then you should be entitled to a bus pass and not need to rely on a separate service. The distance between the Castle and the Capitol is too small to need such a service, and because the Free 'b' only stops at designated bus stops, chances are you'll still have to walk to get to most of the shops.
Having large, often empty, buses driving around town every 10 minutes, 7 days a week, creates a lot of pollution which is bad both for the environment and for the health of the residents.
We don't want to organise a boring protest because we realise this isn't the biggest issue affecting Cardiff, however we do think that the (almost) £150,000 spent on this service is a tremendous waste and want to raise awareness of that through a fun publicity stunt. We encourage everyone who feels the same to board the bus with us at 4:30pm this Friday – with as many friends, dolls, dummies and cardboard cut-outs as you can carry – to illustrate how unusual it is to see a full Free 'b' Bus.
What do you think about the Free 'b' Bus? Should people be campaigning against it (and will you be attending the protest?), or do you think it deserves to stay?
Let us know your views by leaving a comment below.
Facebook Group: Stop the Free B Bus
Facebook Event: Fill a Free B Bus
GuardianCardiff: Free 'b' Bus Demonstration This Friday
GuardianCardiff: Free 'b' Bus Protest to be Held
GuardianCardiff: Free 'b' Bus Stats Are Shocking
GuardianCardiff: Free 'b' Bus in City Centre Shake-up
WalesOnline: 'Free b' Bus is a Lonely Experience
WalesOnline: High Cost of Free Buses
YourCardiff: Snap the Free 'b' Bus
Photograph: Hannah Waldram / guardian.co.uk/cardiff