Sunday, 30 May 2004

May 2004

Sunday, May 30, 2004
Looking for Nessie.
I watched Globetreker this evening on Discovery TV. It was fron Scotland and one of the people on the show was some guy who had moved up to Loch Ness and was living there in an old van. He made some money selling Nessie models he makes and spent his time scaning the loch for the monster. He was on a TV program 9 years ago when he first moved up there.Now he is asked 60 times a day if he has seen the monster. "No." he anwsers. Easy to just say no,easier than saying yes and have to tell 60 people a day what it looked like and all the atttendent details. He admitted that even if he had seen Nessie he would probably still say no.So he's been there at the side of the Loch in an old van for 9 years following his ambition to find the Loch Ness Monster. And if he sees it, what then? Will he go home? Will he just carry on watching and carry on denying that he has seen the beast. Maybe his real ambition was to just drop out and he used poor Nessie as an excuse.Does he really want to see her?

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Bus Drivers are Human
I went into Brixham this morning. I had come down from Newton Abbot which is 12 miles or so from Brixham. It takes 92 mins to drive a bus along the route and I will have stopped 30 or more times to pick up and drop of about 60 to 80 passengers. I will have been involved in may be 10 queues of slow moving traffic and at least 3 car drivers will have done something to try and upset me and several pedestrians will have walked out in front of me with out looking.When I got to Brixham the bus in front of me was just about to leave. He, or she, runs 10 mins ahead of me so I now have 10 mins Stand Time. Time for a short rest. Not a chance. Some old guy tries to get on the bus even though I tell him I am going to the toilet and will be 5 mins. He wants to go to Paignton and can not see why he can't go now. he gets nasty saying I was being rude. I explain that the bus does not go for 10 mins and I am having 5 mins away from the bus if you don't mind. The sun is shining and its warm and dry. It's not as if it is cold and wet.When I get back to the bus I hear him say to his wife that all bus drivers are lazy bastards. He then asks me for 2 singles to Paignton. £4.00.Now he was over 60 and a holiday maker. I usually explain to over sixties holiday makers about our £3.00 explorer ticket for the over sixties. Did he get this example of my charm? What do you think?When we got to Paignton he asked, without any grace, where to bus to Babbacombe went from. Hopefully he will get singles again for £2.00 each and his day out will cost £16.00 in bus fares for himself and wife instead of what it should have cost. £6.00 for two Explorers.Being nice pays; usually.

Change over day.
Sunday 23 May 04
Today at work was change over day. We changed from the winter time table to summer. What this means is there are more buses out there for the holiday makers and the foreign language students who come to Torquay every summer to learn English. The services that need more buses are the number 12 and the open top buses.
The problem to day was with the open tops. They go from St Marychurch by Meatfoot Beach, Torquay Harbour, Paignton and then either to Brixham or the Zoo. Good Zoo at Paignton, been seen on BBC TV.
Last year they did not go by Meatfoot Beach for some reason best known to the Boss. Well no one bothered to cut the trees down. Not the whole tree, just the bit sticking in the road that threatened to rip the passengers faces to pieces. So we could not go that way and it is the nicest part of the route since that nice Mr Hilditch took the part down to Kingswear out. That was the best part. Mr Hilditch found out that because of problems with the time table drivers had 20 minutes rest time in Kingswear and he soon put a stop to that. We don't go there any more and Mr Hilditch is happy and it is always a good idea to keep the boss happy even if the passengers don't get to Kingswear and Dartmouth.

Saturday, May 22, 2004
Good Day.
Yesterday I went in the canteen at Paignton for my break and the news was on the TV. Most news these days and for as far back as I can remember is either bad or depressing.However there were 2 items which cheered me up no end. The first discribed how Dictator Blair, sorry Prime Minister Blair is coming under increasing pressure from all sides concerning his starting a war. You know the one in Iraq. He has been told to get British troops out of Ireland, sorry Iraq as soon as posible and to stop seeing his American Lover(That nice Mr. Bush).Tony should have tried to make him self in to a great Prime Minister of the Uk, working hard to improve the future of the people he was elected to rule. But what did he do? He became a war lord.Are the problems of Law and Order, Education, the National Health Service and Public Transport so hard to solve that he had to have a war to distract us from the fact that his government isn't even trying to find solutions to these problem. Did Iraq presented a problem more important than pensioners unable to pay their council tax bills or what people would say about his U Turn on a European Union Referemdem. Maggie had a war. It came at a good time for her and got her elected for a 3rd term. But that war was forced on her. Anthony Eden had his war, unforced. and look what happened to him. North Korea has WMD. Are we going to goto war with them?Take the Q from the end of IRAQ and you get IRA. We had the IRA for 40 years, will I be celabrating my 100th birthday and saying"Thank God we are finally out of Iraq"? Second item of news was that the Basking Sharks are back.Second biggest fish in the world and they swim just of the coast here in Torquay. Isn't that nice of them?
10 facts about basking sharks
The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second largest fish in the world, after the Indo-Pacific whale shark (Rhincodon typus).
They may reach 12m in length, and weigh up to 7 tonnes.
They may take 12-20 years to reach sexual maturity.
Gestation may take 18 months - 3 years.
Females give birth to 5-6 live young (pups) at a time.
Pups are believed to be 1.5m at birth.
They feed only on tiny zooplankton.
Basking sharks are found in most temperate waters of the world.
Basking sharks appear in the waters around the western coasts of Britain each spring from May onwards.
The basking shark is the biggest wild animal to regularly visit Britain.

Sunday, May 16, 2004
Not a good day
Sunday 16 May 04
I started in Paignton to day. I knew the day was going to be one of those days. I got on my bus, loaded the passengers, had a look round for any one running up at the last minute, no, closed the doors and started to reverse.
I don't know where they came from but suddenly two people were banging on the door. Now once we have started reverse we can not stop and pick them up. Company rules for everyone's safety.
In Brixham I left 2 minutes late and the same thing happened while I was at the lights. Still can not pick them up.
Further down the road at Windy Corner some one was standing behind the bus shelter and only appeared with her arm out as I was driving past. I had only been out 30 minutes and I had upset 5 people. Now I don't like upsetting people like this but I am not going to put myself and others at risk by stopping when it is not safe.
The rest of the day went on like this. In one incident a car ( Reg Number VW04FUN just in case you are reading this) over took me just after a two lane road had narrowed to one lane, forcing him self between me and oncoming traffic, missing both by inches. After the car got past me it spent the next 2 miles travelling in front of me in a queue of traffic at 15 mph. In the car the drivers wife and child. Testerone makes potential killers of some people.
Later a passenger boarded the bus in Torquay, complained I was late and asked for a single to Windy Corner. I issued the ticket and asked for the fare, £2.05. She said "Oh no it's only a pound. I have an OAP pass." See then spent almost 2 minutes finding it.
The frustration of a day like this tends to make me forget the first two rules of stress free bus driving.
1 Be nice to the passengers
2 Never worry about what other road users do.

Friday, May 14, 2004
Summer Rotas.
At this time of year we start getting ready for the summer season and an increase in the number of holiday makers, Grokels as they are known locally.This means changes in the 12 service and the start of the Open Top bus service between St Marychurch in the north of the bay and Brixham in the south. The new rotas came out to day and were awaited with some trepidation by the drivers.One good thing from my point of view is that I don't have any Torquay Locals to do this summer.I dislike Torquay Locals. Not the people but the routes,some of the go up and down 12 times a day driving manual gear box buses that are well past their 'trip to the scrap yard date.'The 12 service has new automatic buses and 3 trips a day max. Much easier. Some drivers like Torquay Locals but I don't.

Monday, May 10, 2004
Torquay Locals
To day was one of those days which I dislike. I usually enjoy my job but for some unknown reason 3 times every 4 weeks I have to drive Torquay locals instead of the 12 I normally drive.Sometimes I can swop but today I couldn't and drove 31 s and 32 s.I hate Torquay Locals.

Saturday, May 08, 2004
New Route; 12D
To day I drove the 12D which is a new route for me.It runs from Paignton Bus Station through Torquay and up to St Marychurch. Very quiet route,I carried only 87 people compared with 300 on my usual route (12). I would not like to do 12D s all the time, the bordom would drive me bonkers. It is one of the Managing Director's ideas and I can not understand why it has lasted so long carrying so few people. Routes that attract this small amount of revenue usually only last if there are no other buses along the route but this one has the 12 and the 32 covering the route. Maybe the boss does not like to admit that one of his ideas isn't working even if it is costing the company money.I did not take enough today to cover my wages.

85A Drivers
I placed the following notice on the staff notice board to day.The company had changed the fare but had not bothered to tell the drivers and they were having problems as they had no idea why the fare had changed. No one looks after the small detail at our place.Mind you they somethimes don't look after anything at our place.
Please note:
The correct Devon County Wide return fare between
Teignmouth Triangle (54)
Newton Abbot (16)
is £1.75.
It had been coming up £1.65 but this was a mistake and has been corrected.
Please apologise for any inconvenience caused.
If anyone complains tell them
to write to that nice Mr Hilditch.
This notice is not a union notice and in no way represents company policy but it is factually correct.

Friday, May 07, 2004
Mass meeting re pay talks.
Well on Tuesday the MD Mr Hilditch agreed to the union demands re 3.5% plus an upgrading of our sick pay but then, after consultation with head officechanged his mind about the sick pay.
The amount of money involve here is about £30 000.
So next time you get on a bus and the driver snarls at you it may be that he works for some one like our Boss.
It may be that the driver just hates you. Who Knows?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
The Union and Proxy Voting.
Thursday evening there will be a mass union meeting to discuss and vote on the latest pay offer. Some drivers will be unable to attend as they will be working. The Union have very kindly decided to allow them a proxy vote at the meeting. However the have not said what the pay offer is. How can you decide to accept or reject something is you don't know what you are voting to accept or reject? Well it seems that if you have a proxy vote, it will be added to the majority vote of those drivers attending.
Is this the RMT's idea of how democracy works or is it the RMT's idea of fooling all the people all the time into thinking they have a say in what the Union does?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Pay Talks
The day after tomorrow, Thursday, is pay talks day. They have been going on since March already. A day here, a day there but as we should start on our new pay rates from the first complete week in May this should be the final pay talk.
Last year we went on strike over pay. Chris Hilditch the MD wanted us to give up our paid meal breaks. This would have meant that we could start work at 7am and end at 7pm with an unpaid break of 4 hours in the middle and so only be paid for 8 hrs. This is the way for a bus company to use the least number of drivers to cover the busy times in the morning and early evening but it would mean going out at 6:30 am and getting home at 7:30 pm for less than £200.00 per week. No Chance.
We were on strike for 9 days over a five week period and kept our paid breaks and got an average rise of 40p per hour. There is still bitterness and resentment amoung the drivers towards the Managing Drirector.
Anyway this year he offered us 20p and hour with several strings; give up our meal breaks for one. We, the Union that is said give us 25p per hour no strings. He said he would do some working out and see if the company could offord it. Two week ago he still had not worked out what 700 drivers times by 25p/hr times by 40hr/week times 52 weeks per year is. Well after 30 seconds on my calculator I could tell him the increase in the wage bill would come to £364 000. The offer he made would cost £291 200 a difference of £72 800. I expect he will come up with the money.
PS The owners of the company just gave themselves a bonus of £250 000 000. (In case you think I
mis-counted the zeros I will write that in words.
One Quarter of A Billion Pounds.

Saturday, 1 May 2004

April 2004

Thursday, April 29, 2004
In the Papers
In the News (a few days ago)
At work to day while on my lunch break I came across a copy of The Times. Now I don't usually read newspapers as they are always full of depressing news like War, Plague, Terrorism and George Bush. Even stories about Global Warming depress me. I seems the world is going to come to an end in 2050. As it is unlikely that I will live to be 107 years old it would appear that I am going to miss the second most important event in the world's history. I missed the first by 4.5 billion years and now I am going to miss the 2nd by 25 years. It's not fair.
Any way the first story I read was about the Archbishop of Canterbury having a go at Dictator Blair and that cheered me up no end. Go for it Bish, but try not to end up like one of your predecessors.
The 2nd story was the one about the woman who managed to steal £4 million from her dead rich bosses. They were so rich that they didn't even miss it. What depressed me so much about this story is here was some one who found a way of turning her job into a complete gold mine but instead of hiding it in a garden gnome (Swiss veriarty), then going into work one day and telling everyone she had been diagnosed a Manic Depressive and were moving to Manchester (so her surroundings could match her mood) she all but told every one. Talk about Spend! Spend! Spend! It's no good doing something bold, imaginative and illegal and forgetting the 11th commandment. Don't wait about to get caught; move to some Central American country and then live in luxury for the rest of your life. Not in jail for the next 10 years.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Stopping a bus from the outside.

No, not you dear reader, the person at the bus stop.
I don't want to stop, I want to keep going so I can get to the terminus and have a smoke. Stopping means I face the probability of being asked hard to answer questions like 'How much is it to Brixham?' or 'What time is the last bus?'or 'Where were the last 3 buses?' The passengers on the bus don't want me to stop, they just want to get where they are going as quickly as possible without some vastly overweight person who smells getting on the bus and sitting next to them in the only empty seat on the bus. The car drivers behind don't want me to stop as they will have to check their mirrors, slow down, signal to the drivers behind and the pull out in the face of car drivers coming the other way who also don't want me to stop. The car drivers half a mile back down the road don't want me to stop as it means the will have to risk life, limb and the nearside of their car trying to get past me as I put on a right turn signal and pull straight out in front of them with total disregard for the fact that they have speeded up to 50 mph in a misguided attempt to get in front of me. Who can blame them, even I don't like travelling behind a bus?
So you are the only person on the face of the planet who wants me to stop. Put some effort into getting me to stop. Lie in the road, take all your clothes off and hold a big sign with 'Please Stop' written on it, or just put your hand out.
PS These methods of getting the bus to stop are not guaranteed. There are some bloody minded bus drivers out there who will find any excuse to stare in the rear view mirror from the moment they see you at the stop until they are well past you. Sorry about that.