The bus from the city centre to a large social housing area on the edge of the city used to depart from inside the bus station. If not a comfortable place, it was dry and sheltered and the many people who relied upon the bus for their transport were protected from the elements. In the middle of October, there was a reshuffle of the bus stops, the bus stop for those who wished to travel to the estate on the edge of the city was moved into the open air, outside of the roof of the bus station. There is a bus shelter that might accommodate a dozen people, a queue any longer leaves people standing in the open air. When one is old, the temperature is hovering around zero, and there is a biting wind, the wait on the pavement is not a pleasant one.
If one believes that market forces should determine everything, it makes perfect sense to move the bus stop to an inhospitable spot. The people catching the bus to the social housing area are those who must use the bus, regardless of how inhospitable the waiting facilities may be. Moving the bus stop for poorer people outside of the shelter of the station means one can use the space vacated for services to more affluent places, more affluent people have more choice, they can choose not to use the bus, so amenities for them need to be more comfortable. If one subscribes to neo-liberal economic doctrine, then it makes good sense to give richer people a nicer bus stop.
The neo-liberal wish is, that after Brexit, European social legislation and rights will be swept aside and market forces will be allowed free sway. The bus stop for those returning to the social housing estate is a microcosm of what will happen if the vision is fulfilled, people will receive according to their ability to pay. If giving richer people the best facilities means retaining their custom, then poorer people will be left to stand in the cold, and expected to be thankful for the service that is provided for them.
Extend the logic of the bus stop to hospitals, to nursing care, to education, to social services, to virtually any public amenity, and it quickly becomes apparent what a world awaits for millions of ordinary people who believed that a better time would be possible. The widening gap between the richest and the poorest will grow ever wider as services are cut and more money goes to those who already have the most. Post-Brexit Britain may be as attractive as a pavement bus stop on a winter’s day.