Adham Fisher has racked up three world records on public transit systems across the world. This is the story of his latest odyssey…
‘I never ask other people why they pursue their hobbies, however weird they might be. But for some reason people are always quizzing me about my own pastime: Tube Challenging, transport racing, extreme commuting or whatever else you want to call the art of riding public transport for thrills and glory. “Why on earth would you spend time and money trying to visit every station on a city’s network in a certain time?” they ask. My answer: I don’t get anything out of it except personal satisfaction. That and three Guinness World Records.
I’m from Leicester, the greatest city in the world. I started my transport-riding career taking the bus to school, but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve started breaking records and proving lots of people wrong. My parents once said that no one earned a living riding public transport; I had an all-expenses-paid trip to France to do just that. A school peer, who once made fun of my interest in transport, congratulated me when I broke the nine-hour barrier on the Chicago L: ‘The Leicester bus system seems like small fry now!’
After breaking world records on the New York Subway, Paris Metro and Berlin U-Bahn, last year I rode on 200 London buses in 24 hours. And that led to my latest challenge: joining forces with a team of elite transport racers to try and ride 593 London bus routes in a single day.
‘This might sound surprising, but I don’t actually know much about London bus routes’
Here’s how it began. After reading about my 24-hour bus challenge, a bus enthusiast named Hugo Marrow contacted me and said that what I had done could be taken further. He believed it was possible for a team of five people to ride on every single TfL bus service in Greater London in a day. With night buses, the total would be 593.
I agreed to take part in the challenge, but only if he did the planning. This might sound surprising, but I don’t actually know much about London bus routes: my strategy for my solo excursion had just been to take every bus I saw. Luckily Hugo had already ridden every single TfL bus route over the course of a few years. He painstakingly divided all the routes into five areas and recruited me and three more racers to cover them – I was assigned the north-east sector. There would also be a remote support team to keep us up to speed on bus diversions via WhatsApp. For a bus to count towards our total, we would have to ride it for a minimum of one stop. We were all set.
On July 27 we met at 11pm at Embankment station to synchronise watches, before taking up our positions. I started at London Bridge on bus 521, then moved on to Liverpool Street and Moorgate to tackle all the buses in that area. I made it out to Ilford to catch the N86 – one of the few night buses that does not serve Zone 1 – then picked up buses along the District line and TfL Rail routes for the next 12 hours or so.
I know you’re dying to find out whether we made it. Tragically, we didn’t. As midnight struck, we had ridden on 564 buses: 95 percent of the network. Hugo and Martin finished their allotted schedules and heroically tried to cover the remaining routes, but it was too much for the rest of us. We tried, we learned, and there is already talk of a ‘sequel’ next month. You haven’t heard the last of the Bustice League.’
Follow Adham and the team on twitter.com/allthebuses.