Dundrum was serviced by five routes which touched the village and then split off to far away exotic locations, some buried deep in the Dublin mountains. Punctuality was regarded as a guideline rather than a rule. Once aboard, a whole new world opened up. First was the objective of trying to dodge the bus conductor and get away without paying your fare. My mother heard rumour of this appalling behaviour and pronounced that in her day, there was an honesty box as you alighted where you could settle your travel debts. We couldn’t imagine such unbridled honesty.
Next, when the conductor found you hiding behind the back seat, you’d attempt to pay a cheaper fare claiming that you were getting off earlier in the journey than your actual destination. The onus was on the conductor to check that you had got off at your nominated stop and regularly revisited the recidivists to ensure you got off where you should. A change of seat or taking a coat off was normally enough to throw him off your trail.
The ticket machine hung around the conductor’s neck and with a few mechanical clicks would whirr into action and spit a ticket out. The ticket was a peculiar purple shade with serrated ends and had to be kept in case there was an impromptu check. The inspector was a dreaded figure. He’d climb on and make sure that everything was in order and that the correct fares had been paid.
Our friends used the bus to commute to school with the busier routes attracting lots of travelers. We were envious – the Belvo and CUS boys having the Muckross girls all to themselves every day. Love blossomed and waned daily on the 48A but we had no such intrigue on the single decker 17 except for the possibility of bumping into a Notre Dame girl who was waiting for the 44 to Enniskerry or the 44B to Glencullen. These encounters were eagerly anticipated and usually botched in a misfired shot at being cool. The mile walk home provided plenty of time for self beration and a run through of how much better it was going to go next time.