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Does 'the buses are not very good' mean that the buses don't run exactly on time in the mornings? Is it a common phrase in these circumstances or awkward?

We must be at the airport at 6.00 a.m. and the buses are not very good in the mornings. Do you think we should take a taxi?

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  • In the future, adding a source is always preferable.
    – Riolku
    Aug 9 at 16:36
  • @Riolku, Why do you need the source if the phrase is fairly common, as you have it written?
    – Sergei
    Aug 9 at 16:44
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    The phrase is capable of more than one interpretation. "Not very good' could mean that the bus service is unreliable (buses shown in the timetable may come late or not at all) or simply that there aren't many buses very early in the morning. If I had to fly early from Bristol airport (as I often did before Covid) I would take a taxi because the buses are few and far between before 07:00. Aug 9 at 17:44
  • @Sergey more context is always good. If you wrote the sentence yourself, great. If you found it somewhere, the community can provide better responses based on context. It's not the most necessary here, but in other cases it is important.
    – Riolku
    Aug 9 at 18:14
  • @Riolku, there is no additional information about the context. The sentences are from my grammar book. I don't see similar examples on the internet, so I asked here.
    – Sergei
    Aug 9 at 18:18
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I would agree with you that it means that buses are not exactly on time in the morning. I infer this from the context, because the speaker is stating that they need to be at the airport at a specific time, and wondering whether to take a taxi instead. The unspoken conclusion is that a taxi will allow them to arrive at the right time, while a bus might not.

The word, 'unreliable' would be a more precise substitute for 'not good', as others have suggested. For this speaker at this moment, buses must be reliable in order to be good. So the phrase is imprecise, but acceptable and easily understood in context by native speakers.

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It means that something about the buses in the morning is not good. Whether that be their timing, passengers, drivers, something is not good.

Saying something is not good is fairly common, it doesn't sound awkward at all.

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  • It sounds awkward to me; the person has avoided contractions (which is somewhat formal), but "not very good" isn't very articulate. It sounds like a child or nonnative English speaker grasping for words. The intended meaning may be "We must be at the airport at 6:00 a.m., and the buses are unreliable in the morning." Aug 9 at 17:22
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    @Chemomechanics - believe me, to a native British English speaker, the expression 'the buses are not very good in the mornings (or late at night/on Sundays etc) is perfectly familiar and not at all unusual. Aug 9 at 17:48
  • I feel like "unreliable" is a more specific version, as I said in my answer, but "not good" sounds perfectly fine to me.
    – Riolku
    Aug 9 at 18:12
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    I suspect that "don't run very often" is just as likely a meaning as "unreliable". Aug 10 at 12:05
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This just means that the busses may not be up to standard. It’s a vague sentence, so you don’t know what specifically is wrong; you just know they are bad in some way.

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