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by George Rountree


Bundy cards were used by transport department officials to check that vehicles were being run by the crew of driver and conductor according to the time-table. They were called time cards and the Bundy clocks and their stamping mechanism were one of two methods of doing this. The clocks and cards were in use until around 1970 when the changeover from crewed buses to one man operation (OMO) was being introduced. The OMO operation began in 1965 and wasn’t completed until 1975, a year after I left the Transport Department. The main checks on time keeping were by inspectors called time-keepers, who manned other busy permanent daytime stations wherever corporation transport ran, e.g. (on the south side of the river) at Eglinton Toll, Shawlands Cross, Paisley Road Toll, Govan Cross, Cathcart Road at Aitkenhead Road etc. There were other locations in the suburbs that had a time keeper only at peak periods; one such was at the roundabout at Peat Road.

     Bundy clocks were designed and first produced by the Bundy Company of New York around 1900. Their mechanism was originally mechanical but they may have been converted to electric operation later. They were installed at locations around the city suburbs so that virtually every service was covered at least once during each double journey. Even today places where they once stood are still referred to by older people as 'the bundy'. Three places in the south west of the city I remember having to wait at while my conductor stamped the card were in Barrhead Road at Damshot Road, Kilmarnock Road at Newlandsfield Road, and Clarkston Road at Muirend Road. Another one encountered on the services operated from Newlands garage was at the Vogue cinema at Riddrie in Cumbernauld Road. The first one I saw in use was during the 1930s. It stood in Langlands Road at Langlands Drive (now the end of Skipness Drive), at the eastern corner of the small triangular park there that was partly surrounded by bushes.

     Housed in distinctively shaped steel boxes, the clocks had a round face at the front protected by glass in the shallow (front to rear) top section standing at about shoulder height, which measured about twelve inches square by six inches deep. Below the clock the front of the box descended outwards at an angle of 45 degrees towards users, deepening it front to back to about a foot, and giving the upper part a shape reminiscent of an old style mechanical cash register. In the centre of the angled section there was a square hole with a lockable lid hinged at the top, and every conductor was issued with a key which opened all the boxes and given strict orders to ensure it was secured by dropping it so that it slammed shut after each time of use. The lid took up about half the area of this section, and when it was raised it revealed inside a wooden platform that stood a couple of inches below the lower edge of the aperture. In the centre of the platform there was a metal lined gape-mouthed, six inches long slot standing slightly proud across the centre with a lever alongside.

     The box itself was about three feet high and two feet wide, and stood chest high on heavy angle-iron brackets embedded in a concrete plinth. The card on which the time was recorded was issued to conductors at the start of each shift. It was dropped into the slot, and when the lever was pulled it stamped the time on the back. At the same time a section of about a quarter of an inch of the left side at the bottom was cut off, so that when next used the card dropped down by that amount to receive the next time stamp. The stamping was supposed to be done each time a bundy was passed by the tram driver or bus conductor as an additional check that the service was being operated according to the timetable.

     The cards were handed in at the end of each shift, but in my experience they were not checked regularly. It only happened if a complaint about irregular running was received from a member of the public, or from a department official who was a timekeeper at another location. The time stamp could then be used as evidence in the event of allegations of irregularities.

     An example of this occurred on the return leg of my very first journey on the first day of service in early May 1960. It was on the number 40 peak-hour service running between Hillington Estate and Cathcart, and I was approaching the Damshot Road clock. Initially newfangled and tense while trying to do everything right, but running late and with my conductor standing near me in a sort of supervisory manner, I was at last beginning to feel more confident after having been driving for an hour or so.
     All Bundy’s were located at a bus stop, and as we neared the Damshot Road stop I applied the brake to draw up. I then saw that there was no one wanting to board, and although aware of a man standing in the shelter he gave no indication that he wished me to stop for him. A quick glance behind showed there was no one going off, so I released the brake and carried on. Immediately the conductor turned and held up the bundy card.

     The vehicle was a single deck Leyland ‘Worldmaster Royal Tiger', the fleet numbers of which were prefixed LS, with a front entry which allowed him to stand beside me. At that time these fairly new buses had front entrance and centre exit doors. At the same instant I became aware of a movement in the shelter. The conductor had been expecting me to stop so that he could stamp the card, so I immediately braked again but succeeded only in drawing up well past the stop. When he saw he would have to walk back a couple of bus lengths, he waved to me to carry on. But aware of the movement in the bus shelter, I got down on to the pavement and waved to the man, but he ignored me, so assuming the conductor knew what he was doing I drove on.

     A few days later I was approached by the inspector known as the 'complaints man'. He had a letter from someone who claimed to have been waiting for a bus at Damshot around the time we would have been due to pass there, and as he was expecting the bus to stop for the bundy he gave no signal. He was writing to complain that the bus drove passed without stopping. The inspector then produced the card and pointed out that the relevant time stamp was missing. In situations like this I invariably find that honesty is best. If people in authority think you are at least making an effort at telling the truth, they are usually prepared to let you away with more than they otherwise would. And so it proved in this case. When I explained what had happened it was accepted, with only a minor rebuke awarded.

     As I was to find out later, in normal circumstances it could merit more significant disciplinary action, but there may more of that side of the job later. This section was written originally as explanatory notes for the bundy cards in my possession, which are marked for buses. Those used on the trams were similar but were marked Tramways Department. In the early days the cards had to be stamped when travelling in each direction, which meant that in these circumstances conductors had to cross the road. As time passed the rise in the volume of traffic saw an increase in the number of accidents to conductors, so the rule was changed to one-way stamping only.