Sunday, October 31, 2004
British Summer Time.
Date saturday 30 october 2004
Place in front of the tv
The cat jumps on my lap and starts head butting me in the guts.
Why? It's time for his supper. He does this every night at 7:00.
Date sunday 31 october 2004
Place in front of tv
The cat is fast asleep. Off his food? No chance. He is the greediest cat we have ever had. No, he still thinks it's 6:00pm. And it is. 6:00 pm british summer time. As i type this it is 11:17pm gmt but my body feels like it is an hour later. I have been to australia a few times and i recognise jet lag when i feel it.
Twice a year we change the clocks for no better reason than the fact that we have done it for the last 100 years. Come on mr blair, you can goto war in a far away place just because your american lover asked you to, can't you get rid of this twice yearly change in time. Have a referendum and let the people decide.
Click on "ring the bell" and type yes to get rid of this twice yearly jet lag, type no to keep it and type "i love chris hilditch" if you are mad.
No One Knows Anything About The New 31 and 34 Routes.
I travelled on a 34 to day, saturday and spoke to the passengers re the changes taking place on sunday 31 oct 04 (tomorrow). None of them knew anything about it except for one person; the driver and he was not too sure what was happening.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
Changes to the 31 and 34 Routes
On sunday 31 october the 31 and 34 routes will be combined to make a circular route. The 31 will go up to barton as it does now but will return via watcombe and the 34 will go up to watcombe as it does now but return via barton. Whilst the 34 used to go into the watcombe estate to willow avenue neither of these routes will go onto the estate. I haven't walked round the watcombe estate for nearly 50 years but i would say the longest walk to the bus stop from any where on the estate would be 15 mins. Fine if you are fit and well but old and carrying a few days shopping, not so fine.
Closed Sea Front and The Diversion
Wednesday 27 october 2004
Well to day we had a spring high tide, a deep depression and gale force south east winds. In the morning the sea front was closed and the buses diverted over the "long" diversion via the ring road. This adds between 5 and 10 mins on to the journey time. If the roads are quiet this can be quickly made up.
At about 16:30 the sea front, as expected was closed. I went along at 16:00 and the waves were already coming over onto the road. When i got back to torquay an hour later we were being sent on the "short" diversion behind the grand hotel and along whetridge lane. One hour after leaving torquay i got to paignton. It usually takes 20 mins. The problem wasn't in the diversion but getting to it. The traffic lights at falkland rd were still working even though almost no traffic except the diverted traffic was using the junction. We were also faced with rush hour traffic along roads not really wide enough for deckers. Hopefully some one will have noted the problems and will have some plan for when the sea front is next closed.
One passenger when he saw all the traffic wanted to get off the bus and walk along the front. I explained that i could only open the doors at bus stops. Had I opened the doors and let him walk along the front he would never have been seen again. They were very, very big waves.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
How to Cause Chaos in the Bay.
These few wooden carvings at the side of the Newton Road don't look much but every car driver that drove past slowed down to have a look. The result was a delay of upto 10 minutes in each direction. As the number 12 drives past every ten minutes in each direction it didn't take long for buses to be running up to 45 mins late. Add to this the problems we were having in Paignton with extra traffic in the town because of the road works on Kings Ash and chaos was in charge.
It got so bad that at one time I was passing Torre Station heading for Brixham with 2 other twelve's travelling with me and 4 number twelve's went past heading for Newton. At the same time a driver reported on the radio that he was in Preston and there were 3 buses travelling towards Newton all together. There are 17 twelve's out during the day and here we had 10 of them in 3 groups. Later the 19:01 from Newton ran on time but the next bus, the 19:21 did not leave until 19:50. Not a good day to be waiting for a bus. Still only 15 weeks and 3 days to go before the road works are completed.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Three Things Heard On The Radio.
Three things heard on the radio yesterday.
The first just irritates me a little. It goes like this.
Controller, "would all 12 drivers check their buses for lost property please. We are looking for a mobile phone/ bag of shopping/ wallet/ golf clubs/ pair of crutches/etc."
Now i have no problem with trying to reunite lost prorerty with the looser of said property. This is well and good. But there are 17 buses out there with the number 12 on the front, back and side. The chances are that it isn't on your bus and you are just coming into union street where you will drop 20 passengers off and pick up 30 more and union street is not the place to hang about looking for lost property. A little more detail such as when and where the looser got off the bus and which direction the bus was going in, were they upstairs or down. This little extra information will save 14 or 15 bus drivers hopelessly searching their bus for something that is not there.
The second item went on all day and went like this,
Driver, " i am running 25 minutes late."
Major road works at kings ash on the ring road sent hundreds of extra cars through paignton yesterday and delays of 25 and 30 minutes were common. Part of the problem was that in other parts of the bay there wasn't much extra traffic so passengers waiting a long time for a bus didn't understand why. Only 16 more weeks. I hope it will be worth it.
The third item annoyed me a great deal. In the midst of all this chaos at 5:00 pm at the height of rush hour, it went like this.
Controller, " papa one. That bus is required for servicing. The engineers will meet you on cary parade with a change of bus." (cary parade is in the centre of torquay.)
Driver," but i have 60 passengers on the bus and most of them have been waiting ages for a bus and you want me to ask them to change buses at this time of night."
Contoller," this is an engineering instruction. You must change buses."
This happens all the time. Engineering want a bus for servicing so they take it. No consideration for the passengers already on the bus. No, they get thrown off the bus in the middle of their journey for no good reason. Engineering could just as easily take a bus to the terminus at newton or brixham and change the bus over while there is no one on it. This professional approach however either has not occurred to them or it is just not matcho enough for them.
To make matters even worse, when engineering had slung all the passengers off the bus they then drove it up fleet walk. We have enough problems with vehicles driving illegally in fleet walk without our own engineering department doing it as well.
Friday, October 22, 2004
The new 31/34 Route.
I had a look at the new 31/34 timetable to day. The new routes will be two circular routes. The 31 going up through hele to barton and back via walcombe and plainmoor. The 34 will go up through plainmoor and marychurch to watcombe and back to town via barton and hele. Watcombe estate has been missed out, either to save time or to avoid the problems on the estate such as parked cars etc.
This change has been carried out to save operating costs. As i don't drive these routes and it is some years since i have done so i will have to wait and see what the drivers and passengers think of them.
On paper i can see how they work and to some extent i can not see why this change wasn't done sooner.
We will have to wait and see.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
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Paying in for the Last Time.
THIS IS REG, PAYING IN FOR THE LAST TIME.
REG IS LEAVING US AS HE HAS REACHED RETIREMENT AGE.
REG IS WELL LIKED BY OTHER DRIVERS AND BY HIS PASSENGERS AND BY THE CONTROLLERS AND ALWAYS ENJOYED THE JOB.
REG DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE .
THE COMPANY DON'T WANT REG TO LEAVE, IT WILL COST £3 500.00 TO TRAIN HIS REPLACEMENT.
TONY BLAIR DOESN'T WANT REG TO LEAVE, HE WILL HAVE TO PAY HIM HIS OLD AGE PENSION AND WILL LOOSE THE INCOME TAX REG WAS PAYING AS A WORKER. I AM SURE IF GOD WERE TO BE ASKED SHE WOULD SAY SHE WOULD LIKE REG TO CARRY ON.
SO WHY IS REG LEAVING, ILL HEALTH? NO, REG IS VERY FIT. A RETIREMENT HOME ON THE COSTA, NO, REG HAS A NICE HOME HERE.
SO WHY IS HE GOING? WHO IS FORCING HIM TO GO? WHO IS PUSHING HIM OUT INTO THE EMPTY VOID OF RETIREMENT? FROM THE HIS £14 300 WAGE AS A BUS DRIVER TO £4 100 OLD AGE PENSION. OVER NIGHT.
THE RMT UNION. THAT CHAMPION OF WORKERS RIGHTS THAT'S WHO. WHY HAVE THE UNION WHO HAVE FOUGHT SO HARD TO IMPROVE OUR PAY AND CONDITIONS VETOED REG'S DESIRE TO CONTINUE WORKING?
IF YOU KNOW THEN PLEASE RING THE BELL BELOW AND TELL US ALL. WE REALY WANT TO KNOW.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
I have just read an item in the local paper the Torquay "Herald Express" in which warns of "Roadwork Misery Looming"
£1M is to be spent improving Kings Ash Road in Paignton. The road works will last more than 3 months and are expected to cause major disruption. Kings Ash Road is not on the Twelve Route but it is on the Ring Road and drivers will look for other ways to get across town and there is only one other way and that is along the Twelve Route.
So expect reports of long delays over the next 3 months.
Friday, October 15, 2004
Not Good Passengers.
Most passengers, 99.9%, ARE OK. they GET ON THE BUS AND PAY THEIR FARE AND GET OFF AT THEIR DESTINATION NO PROBLEM.
NOW AND THEN THERE ARE PASSENGERS THAT CAUSE SLIGHT PROBLEMS,
LITTLE OLD LADIES WHO SEARCH THROUGH THEIR PURSES FOR THE RIGHT MONEY SAYING "I DON'T WANT TO TAKE ALL YOUR CHANGE DRIVER." WHEN YOU HAVE A TON OF CHANGE BUT ARE RUNNING LATE.
mums WITH PRAMS SLIGHTLY BIGGER THAN THE moon buggy WHO ALWAYS WANT TO GET ON WHEN THE BUS IS 3/4 FULL.
HOLIDAY MAKERS WHO DON'T USE A BUS BACK HOME AND GET ON AND ASK FOR 4 RETURNS TO BRIXHAM AND APOLOGISE FOR ONLY HAVING A FIVER. (THE FARE IS £14.00). THEN THEY SAY I WANT TO GO TO BRIXHAM NOT BUY IT.
THESE SORT OF PASSENGERS ARE RUN OF THE MILL AND ARE EASILY DEALT WITH.
THEN THERE ARE THE ONES LIKE I HAD YESTERDAY. I PULLED INTO PAIGNTON 3 MINS EARLY AND SWITCHED THE ENGINE OFF. A FEW PEOPLE GOT ON AND A MAN DETACHED HIMSELF FROM A GROUP OF 4 AND ASKED HOW LONG BEFORE I WENT. 3 MINS WAS THE ANSWER. HE RETURNED TO THE GROUP AND CONTINUED TALKING. 3 MINS LATER I STARTED THE ENGINE, SWITCHED ON THE HAZARD WARNING LIGHTS, SWITCHED ON THE HEADLIGHTS, SELECTED REVERSE, AND CLOSED THE DOORS. ALL THIS GOT NO RESPONSE FROM THE MAN TALKING SO I FIGURED THAT HE WAS GOING TO CONTINUE TALKING AND CATCH THE NEXT BUS. ONE LAST LOOK AT HIM. STILL NO MOVE TOWARDS THE BUS SO I REVERSED OF THE STAND. AS I DROVE AWAY HE SPAT ON THE WINDSCREEN OF THE BUS. SUCH A NICE PERSON.
THE OTHER NON PASSENGER WAS WAITING AT THE grand HOTEL AND TO MAKE SURE I SAW HER SHE TOOK TWO STEPS INTO THE ROAD AND PUT OUT HER HAND. NO PROBLEM SO FAR. I LIKE PEOPLE TO MAKE THEIR INTENTIONS CLEAR. I INDICATED LEFT AND TURNED INTO THE BUS LAY-BY. SHE WAS SO DETERMINED THAT I WOULD STOP THAT SHE REMAINED STANDING IN MY PATH FORCING ME TO BRAKE HARDER THAN I SHOULD. SHE SEEMED SURPRISED WHEN I REFUSED TO LET HER ON THE BUS BUT AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED NO ONE ENDANGERS THE BUS AND TRAVELS ON IT.
AS I SAY MOST PASSENGERS ARE FINE, NOW AND THEN ONE OR TWO ARE NOT.
Low Floor Buses on the 31 Route.
THE COMPANY LEASED SOME LOW FLOOR BUSES IN THE HOPE THAT IF PASSENGER NUMBERS WENT UP ENOUGH THEY WOULD BUY THEM. sadly THE NUMBERS DID GO UP BUT ONLY SLIGHTLY AND THEY ARE GOING AT THE END OF THE MONTH.
Sunday, October 10, 2004
'CRISIS' FEARS ON COLLEGE BUS LINK
South Devon College IS THE CLOSEST TORBAY WILL GET TO A UNIVERSITY.
IN RECENT YEARS THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS HAS GROWN AND NOW THEY HAVE SOLD THE SITE THEY OCCUPY, WHICH IS ON THE 12 ROUTE. TO BE ANY WHERE IN TORBAY YOU HAVE TO BE ON THE 12 ROUTE.
THEY ARE MOVING TO A PLACE ON THE RINGROAD WHERE NORTEL USED TO BE BEFORE THEY FAILED. IT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF NO WHERE AND NOT ON A BUS ROUTE.
NOW STAGECOACH SAY THAT THEY WILL HAVE DIFFICULTY IN PROVIDING A BUS SERVICE FOR THE STUDENTS. HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF POPULAR. the BROWN SMELLY STUFF IS DEFIANTLY HITTING THE FAN AT THIS VERY MOMENT.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
Waiting for a bus that doesn't come.
TO DAY WHILE I WAS ON MY BREAK AT PAIGNTON A DRIVER CAME IN FOR HIS BREAK. HE EXPRESSED SORROW FOR THE DRIVER OF THE NEXT BUS TO BRIXHAM. AS I WAS THAT DRIVER I ASKED HIM WHY. HE TOLD ME THAT HE HAD BROUGHT A NUMBER 12 FROM NEWTON ABBOT THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO GO TO BRIXHAM AT 19:05 BUT THERE WAS NO DRIVER TO TAKE OVER FROM HIM AND HE HAD BEEN INSTRUCTED TO PUT UP PAIGNTON ONLY.
MY BUS WAS DUE TO LEAVE AT 19:25 WHICH WOULD MEAN PEOPLE COULD HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR 40 MINUTES ON THE BUS STATION FOR A BUS FOR BRIXHAM. IT WOULD ALSO MEAN THAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULD HAVE BEEN WAITING ALL ALONG THE ROUTE FOR UP TO 40 MINS FOR A BUS. AT LEAST IT WASN'T RAINING.
AS EXPECTED I WAS ASKED BY SEVERAL UPSET PEOPLE WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO THE BUS IN FRONT. ALL I COULD SAY WAS THE DRIVER HAD NOT TURNED IN FOR WORK AND IF IT WAS ANY CONSOLATION THE MISSING BUS THAT THEY HAD BEEN WAITING FOR WAS ALSO THE ONE I WOULD HAVE BEEN CATCHING TO GO HOME AND THAT I TOO WOULD HAVE TO WAIT AN EXTRA 20 MINUTES TO GET HOME.
TWO OR THREE PASSENGERS THOUGHT THIS WAS FUNNY. ONE EVEN OBSERVED THAT I WOULD KNOW HOW IT FELT TO STAND AROUND HOPING AGAINST HOPE THAT THE BUS WOULD ONE DAY TURN UP. AT LEAST I KNEW IT WASN'T COMING AND STAYED IN THE OFFICE AND HAD A CUP OF COFFEE.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
New Information re 77 v 78
I wrote yesterday about my misgivings that the 77 route had been chosen in preference to the easier ( in my opinion ) 78 route around Buckland.I have been informed by a reliable source that Stagecoach Devon Management, The RMT Union, The Health & Safety Exec and the Local Authority had talks to decide which of the routes was to be withdrawn.It seems that the deciding factor was concern that problems could occur if there was a frost on the steep hill at Buckland Brake. It was felt that it was more dangerous for a bus to go down that hill in frosty weather than to go up it. The 77 goes up it; the 78 will shortly no longer go down it.I was also informed that the Local Authority had promised to look at the problems caused for the 77 route on the estate by parked cars.Once again it is nice to discover that some one does care about the well being of the drivers.
Posted at 00:11 by desfordaveRing the bell
Monday, October 04, 2004
Driving a 77 Round Buckland.
IN NEWTON ABBOT THERE IS AN ESTATE CALLED BUCKLAND. IT'S NOTHING LIKE TOLKIN'S BUCKLAND APART FROM THE FACT THAT BOTH ARE BUILT ON THE SIDE OF A HILL.
THERE IS ONE BUS ROUTE ROUND BUCKLAND BUT TWO BUS NUMBERS. THE 77 GOES ROUND ANTI CLOCKWISE AND THE 78 GOES THE SAME ROUTE BUT CLOCKWISE. THERE IS NO SENSIBLE REASON TO HAVE THIS ARRANGEMENT, IT TAKES MORE OR LESS THE SAME TIME TO GET FROM ANYWHERE IN BUCKLAND TO NEWTON AND NO ONE WAITS FOR ONE BUS IN PREFERENCE TO THE OTHER. from MY POINT OF VIEW AND OTHER DRIVERS I HAVE SPOKEN TO THERE IS A PREFERENCE.
AS YOU ENTER BUCKLAND THE 77 TURNS RIGHT AND CLIMBS UP A VERY STEEP HILL WITH A SHARP TURN HALF WAY UP. THE HILL IS SO STEEP IT HAS TO BE CLIMBED IN FIRST GEAR,THIS CLIMB LASTS 250 YARDS WITH LOTS OF NOISE FROM THE ENGINE TO THE ANNOYANCE OF THE PEOPLE LIVING IN THE ROAD. THEN ALONG A NARROW ROAD WITH PARKED CARS ON THE LEFT. IF ANYONE ENTERS THE ROAD YOU HAVE TO PULL INTO THE LEFT IF THERE IS A SPACE OR EVEN REVERSE. IF THERE ISN'T. THEN A RIGHT TURN AND PARKED CARS AGAIN ON THE LEFT, THEN A LEFT TURN INTO A ROAD WITH CARS PARKED ON THE LEFT. AS YOU START THE TURN YOU CAN NOT SEE IF THERE IS ANYTHING COMING THE OTHER WAY. IF ANYTHING IS YOU HAVE TO REVERSE. further ON THE ROAD BENDS TO THE LEFT FOR A LONG WAY WITH PARKED CARS ON THE LEFT. IF ANYTHING COMES TOWARDS YOU AT THIS POINT IT IS DIFFICULT TO SEE THEN ROUND THE BEND AND THERE ARE ONLY SMALL SPACES ON THE LEFT WHICH ARE DIFFICULT TO GET IN AND OUT OF WITH THE BUS. WHEN YOU GET TO THE EXIT FROM BUCKLAND ON A 77 YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE DONE 10 LAPS IN A STOCK CAR RACE.
ON THE 78 THE PARKED CARS ARE ALMOST ALL ON THE RIGHT WITH SPACES BIG ENOUGH FOR CARS TO MOVE INTO AND ALL THE TURNS ARE IN TO ROADS YOU CAN SEE ALONG WAY DOWN SO YOU CAN EASILY STOP IF ANY ONE IS COMING. the HILL UP TO THE TOP OF THE ESTATE IS LONG AND CAN BE DONE EASILY IN 3RD GEAR WITHOUT STRAINING THE ENGINE AND EARS. when YOU EXIT BUCKLAND WHILE YOU DON'T FEEL YOU HAVE BEEN FOR A DRIVE IN THE COUNTRY YOU ARE MUCH LESS STRESSED THAN THE POOR SOD ON THE 77.
AS I SAID THERE IS NO REAL NEED FOR THIS ARRANGEMENT AND THE COMPANY HAVE DECIDED TO DO AWAY WITH ONE OF THE BUSES. THERE WILL JUST AS MANY BUSES GOING ROUND BUCKLAND AS THERE EVER WERE. NOW THEY WILL ALL GO THE SAME WAY.
WHICH WAY WOULD YOU PICK? THE 77 WITH THE VERY STEEP CLIMB, THE BLIND CORNERS AND MOST OF THE TIME DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD BECAUSE OF THE PARKED CARS?
NO. WHY Not? stagecoach have. From the end of this month the 77 will be the only bus driving round buckland. I wonder if anyone in head office has ever driven a bus round buckland or did they just flip a coin to decide which bus to keep.
Letter From Head Office.
A couple of changes have been made in the last week to our fare structure. One is the removal of the student tickets and their replacement with UniRiders. Uni being short for university. Any College or university student can buy these tickets on production of a NUS card or student ID. (see last posting)
The other change is the fact that Devon County Wide tickets (half price tickets for Pensioners and Disabled) are no longer rounded down to the nearest 5p. This means we have prices like £1.37, Torquay to Paignton return or £1.67, Return Brixham to Paignton. The problem of having to give copper in change adds to the time it takes to get people on the bus and only having 4 compartments in our cash tray is causing a problem; where do you keep the copper?
Well a letter was posted on the notice board explaining this introduction of copper in our change. The fact is rounding a fare down by 2p cost the company a large sum of money over a year.
It's the letter that is the interesting item here. Often in the past the company have not bothered to inform the drivers of their thoughts behind their actions. It would indicate a change of policy here that on this occasion they have and it is to be hoped that this trend will continue. At lest we know why we have to carry copper and put up with the extra aggravation caused by this failure to round down to the nearest 5p as we have in the past. The more cynical of my colleges may just think the company are just trying to pull the wool over our eyes. maybe they