January 2018

No community is an islandNo community is an island

Waiting for a bus is like waiting for a bus. You wait for ages and then one or more comes along; you board, tap your card, take a seat, wait for your stop and get off at – or near – your destination. It's a simple process, but one that, for many, offers so much more than getting from A to B. Especially when A is the bus stop near their home and B the bus stop at the hospital, for example. A lifeline in an almost literal sense. And while TfL refers to them as 'bus spider maps', when you look at an overview of bus routes in a given area, they can have a vein-like appearance – they truly can be the lifeblood of a community's infrastructure.

It is no wonder, therefore, that when the flow of buses is stemmed, the community is impacted. We don't notice the blood flowing through our veins and arteries until it is cut off, and then there can be painful paraesthesia, alerting our brain to the problem so action can be taken. Similarly, a good bus service is one that flows regularly and reliably, not requiring a second thought from those wishing to board. When that flow is restricted, it too can cause pain.

You don't have to be a bus spotter to appreciate the beauty of the bus. There are over 8,000 of them across London, serving 19,000 bus stops and carrying around 6.5 million passengers every day. That's a lot of important A to Bs. But buses also carry an important message, and I don't mean messages of extra funding for the NHS. For many, they carry a message of opportunity, of freedom and of independence. As a local magazine, we hold our hands up to being inward-looking – in fact, we aim to be just that – but no community is an island. And to adapt John Donne's words, any community's death diminishes me, because I am involved in the community.