I had cause to use the 'First' bus services of Essex recently. Margaret Thatcher once said that if someone found themselves on a bus at the age of 30 then they would realise that they were something of a loser (I paraphrase slightly). Well I'm 40 and I can see her point.
My first gripe is the allocation of buses. Why do some routes that consist of roundabout routes through villages where hardly anyone lives get provided with large double deckers that can hardly fit through leafy lanes whilst routes that pass through built up areas have buses so small that it makes you think sardines have a good deal.
Next, I wish to pick issue with Chelmsford bus station. It used to consisit of a shed that reminded you of 'on the buses'. As one employee put it who I talked to said "aye it was a S**thole, but it was our S**thole". True, but at least it was homely and warm. The new station is bloody freezing. The architect had clearly never waited for a bus in his life. It may look nice on the plans but it is about as practical as a chocolate fireguard.
Finally, the silly information system delivers electronic information about when the next bus is due. It is totally useless. You might as well use an astronomer or tarot cards.
The train is the easiest way to get around to London, the airport or larger cities around. Traffic in this region is terrible as most people go to work in the big cities and you might even be late to catch your flight.
To come direct to Essex from abroad is easy and cheap by flying in one of the many budget airlines that fly to Stansted airport.
Plenty of airlines competing from different locations for ridicules price sometimes.
Stansted Airport is one of London's many airport, but it's actually in Essex, just off junction 8 of the M11 motorway. It's a major hub for budget airlines, notably Ryanair and Easyjet, and there are also a lot of charter flights to holiday destinations. The airport just serves UK and European destinations at present - to go further afield you'll probably want to head to Heathow or Gatwick.
The airport has it's own railway station, just under the main terminal building, with a regular service into London Liverpool Street. There's also an airport bus station immediately outside, with connections to Heathrow and Gatwick (allow lots of time to connect to these airports). There's only one terminal at present, so it's a fairly easy airport to navigate. Don't let that lull you into a false sense of security when you arrive though - the budget airlines in particular are very tough at enforcing minimum check-in times.
To get around the small towns and villages is easy with a car, but as I saw they all drive on the wrong side, I decided to use the local bus.
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