Tuesday, 30 November 2004

November 2004

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Police at Work on Paignton Bus Station.
Monday 28th November 2004 2:00pm
Four men walked through the bus station. Suddenly two police officers appeared giving chase. They stopped and questioned the men and then searched them. The men were then handcuffed and taken to a police van that had arrived during the search. One of the other drivers said he though they had been shop lifting but it could have been a drug bust. C

Going into Brixham
As you drive down new road into brixham there is a bend to the right, not very sharp, no real need to slow down a great deal. On the left there are a few shops, a doctor's surgery and....... A dentist's surgery. On the right is a forty foot high wall.
So far no problem, on both sides of the road there are double yellow lines which in the uk mean no waiting at any time; except in torbay. Here traffic wardens use a common sense approach to work. They don't do any. And everyone knows this and they park almost any where. I haven't seen anyone park against the wall yet but the day will come. I have however seen thousands of cars (not all at the same time) parked outside the shops and the surgeries.
To pass these idiots means going on the wrong side of the road on a blind bend and i usually pray to the god of blind bends whilst i am on the wrong side of the road. The prayers are simple, blow the horn repeatedly. Note the highway code says i should give audible warning of approach in this situation.
Well the other day the company got a nice letter from the dentist. In it he noted the problem with the blind bend and it's dangers but also pointed out that bus horns are very loud and in the surgery they were totally unexpected. Should, he went on, be drilling in the mouth of an elderly person this unexpectedness could cause the patient to jump with predictable consequences.
Now he felt he could get away with charging for an extra filling now and then but trying to sell the idea that tongue piercing was cool for the over seventy's; especially when done with a dentist drill, was pushing his luck a little too far.
So i expect i will have to pray to the blind bend god silently from now on and hope that i don't make the patients jump with the unexpected sound of a very loud crash.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Monitoring Road Works
23 November 2004
Fines and costs totalling £18,281.92 have been imposed by magistrates on utility companies for offences in relation to roadworks in Devon.Gas company Transco was fined a total of £3,700 and ordered to pay a total of £4980.67 in costs for 10 offences including being fined £1,300 plus costs of £3,185 for three offences. South West Water was fined a total of £1,100 plus £1,658.75 for five offences.Devon County Council environment councillor David Morrish said: "With the appointment of a street works enforcement officer, the county is now in the strongest position ever to investigate offences and bring them to the notice of the courts."We currently have many cases pending and can assure the utility companies that we will not rest until they take responsibility for their actions. Our message to the utility companies is get it right or face the consequences."
torbay council should take note and appoint their own street works enforcement officer. many of the road works in torbay ( many run by firms mentioned above) have serious defects in traffic management. many a motorist has sat at temporary traffic lights in a queue of vehicles stretching as far as the eye can see for up to 15 mins only to get through the road works and discover that there are only 3 cars waiting on the otherside of the road works. Traffic management is not a science that has reached the west country yet.

Thursday, November 18, 2004
Right Time, Wrong Place.
Wednesday 17 november 04
Work rest day
I put my name down to work a rest day and got duty 3510 which is a coast duty. It is know as a coast duty as you drive up the coast to exeter and back two or three times. At our end there is the 85 from torquay harbour and the 85a from newton abbot. Both end up in exeter. As the duty started in the middle of the day i had to take over a bus from an other driver and i looked at the running board which started with the line, "travel passenger on service 12 bus". Usually when taking over a live bus we drive a shuttle bus which is much better than travelling on a service bus which take 3 times as long.
Well i got to newton and went to the 85a bus in sherbourne road. The driver said no he wasn't coming off and i looked at my running board more carefully and released that i should have been in torquay, 35 mins away to take over an 85 in 10 mins.
Hari kari was definitely an option.
Instead i rang control and told them i was in newton and i should have been in torquay. Now this has happened before though not to me. They got on the radio and told the driver coming off in torquay and he, one richard boston, a hero, agreed to drive the bus to exeter while i went back to the depot, got a spare bus and chased after him. I caught him up in exminster, which saved him the chore of going all the way into exeter.
Now richard didn't have to do what he did, he could have left all the people waiting for me and just brought the bus back to the depot and gone home. But that would have meant a lot of people waiting an hour for the next bus and like many of our drivers richard didn't want that to happen. Well done richard and thank you. Me, i'm dead upset that i could make such a stupid mistake.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004
South Devon College
No, I am not writing about the possible lack of buses to south Devon college when they move in September. I am talking about a bus that goes to the College which shouldn't.
Between 18:00 and 19:00 the number of 12's on the road falls from 17 to 8 as the service changes from a 10 minute service to a 20 minute service. some of the buses get to Brixham or Newton and run dead back to the depot. Two go from Newton to Paignton and one (at 18:01) goes only to the depot. However One, the 18:21 from Newton runs to Torquay Harbour and then dead back to the depot arriving there at 19:05. Some drivers, not all, don't go to the Harbour.
They only put South Devon College up on the destination blind and then return to the depot from the College. this saves them about 15 minutes. It also means that anyone wanting to go to the Harbour has to wait an extra 17 minutes for the next bus which does go to the Harbour.
No buses are at present scheduled to terminate at South Devon College.
So if you are waiting for a bus some where between Newton and torquay between 18:21 and 18:50 and a bus comes along with South Devon College on the destination Blind, get on and insist that the driver takes you to the harbour.

A Little more on the 34 route
From Herald Express13 November 2004
I would like to reassure Danny Ferguson (Your View, November 10) that I fully understand that, if bus drivers are being threatened physically, then action has to be taken to protect their safety.The main concern I have is that no effort seems to have been made to bring together Stagecoach, the council, the police and other agencies to discuss this problem.If they had been brought together then a solution may have been found, which would not have deprived* people of their 34 bus service.I look forward to working with Stagecoach and the police to find a solution to this problem.Cllr GORDON JENNINGSWatcombe WardTorquay
*Comment. The people have not been deprived of the 34 Service, just a small section of it. Which shows that people, not only councillors, will shamelessly manipulate facts for their own ends. Desfordave

Friday, November 12, 2004
Torbay Council V RMT Union and Stagecoach.
Torbay council's comments on changes to be made to the 31 and 34 routes.
below is the rmt union's response
Torquay herald Express
28 October 2004
The fight is on to save one of Torquay's established bus routes.Councillors say they are outraged by Stagecoach's decision to alter the 34 service covering East and West Pafford Avenue and Willow Avenue on the Watcombe estate. They believe that by changing the route to incorporate Halstead Road, many people in Watcombe will be cut off from key destinations in Torquay.Cllr Steve Darling said: "This would disadvantage many people on the estate, and we have asked Stagecoach to reconsider their actions. Their proposals will be particularly hard on older residents and those who may be disabled, who will find it difficult climbing the hill from Fore Street in Barton to their homes on the estate. We won't roll over. The fight will continue."Stagecoach said one of the main reasons for the change is because of incidents of violence against its drivers and vehicles.Chris Hilditch, Stagecoach managing director, said: "We've had a lot of trouble up there - buses stoned and residents blocking drivers' routes with badly parked cars. The drivers don't like going there. So we think the change is a vast improvement."However, Cllr Gordon Jennings disputed this, saying that Stagecoach's decision was based on financial gain, not fears of antisocial behaviour.He added: "We've got policemen who are willing to go on the buses. They're keen to look at the issue and approach any offending youngsters. But Stagecoach isn't interested. We have been in touch with the sergeant who covers that area and, while he is aware of isolated incidents, he is not aware of Stagecoach informing the police of endemic antisocial behaviour."Stagecoach said the new 34 route would provide diversity and improvements to passengers, bringing more advantages than drawbacks.It will be linked with the 31 services to form a circular service which will join Barton and Hele with St Marychurch. However, the new services will no longer serve Shirburn Road, Studley Road and Watcombe estate.Mr Hilditch added: "With this route we're tying Watcombe and Barton. This will give a service to Halstead Road, so passengers will have a link with St Marychurch. Also, people in town will be able to get to Watcombe or Barton more quickly, with waits only being seven and a half minutes instead of 20 minutes. It gives customers more options and a better service. Not many people will be disadvantaged - a few will. We're giving the best service we can."We're trying to keep the customer base we've got while generating more customers. The councillors have an issue, but I think that when they really think about it they'll see this is for the better. It's a commercial bus service, no public money is put into it. We'll look at how the change goes, but I don't think we'll reconsider in the near future."

Thursday, November 11, 2004
RMT Respond to Torbay Council
SAFETY BEHIND SERVICE WITHDRAWAL From Readers Letters, the herald express. 10 November 2004
I feel it my duty to respond to the article about the loss of the 34 service through the Watcombe estate (Herald, Oct 28).Councillor Gordon Jennings claims Stagecoach have withdrawn the service purely on a financial gain. I beg to differ. The service was withdrawn for safety reasons because of the amount of trouble drivers had to contend with on a regular basis.Drivers were being threatened and robbed. Threats and intimidation became the norm.It was particularly bad in the evenings with youths throwing missiles at the buses. This was endangering the same members of the public that councillors represent.Two years ago we stopped the buses taking their lay over time at Willow Avenue, because of the trouble drivers had to contend with. Things have got no better since this was implemented.The last straw was the assault and robbery of a driver by a gang of youths. As for the police volunteering to travel around on the buses, we can't even get them to attend a robbery within a reasonable time, never mind travel on the buses.We used to meet the police on a regular basis to discuss hot spots, which included Watcombe estate, but alas this does not happen any more.As my members' representative, my union has a duty of care towards its members, as does Stagecoach. That's why this decision was taken, not for financial gain as intimated.I trust the decent law- abiding residents of Watcombe estate understand the reason why this has happened.DANNY FERGUSONRMT Senior Staff Representative & Health and Safety Representative Regent Close,Torquay

South Devon College
From an item in the Herald Express
South Devon College Principal Heather Maxwell disputed recent claims that the new site in Paignton would be inaccessible by public transport.Stagecoach boss Chris Hilditch feared students would be unable to get to the new Long Road site.But Ms Maxwell said: "I don't want people to think it's going to be difficult to get to. I know a regular bus service and the site is only four miles from Torquay."She added the college had been approached by a number of private transport organisations and said potential transport schemes were in the pipeline.
Well I am glad that's sorted out

Friday, November 05, 2004
Still Getting the Blame
From the Herald ExpressBY ABI PARKES11:00 - 01 November 2004
A solution to bridge the Bay's public transport blackspots is being investigated by Torbay Council.They believe a new quality bus partnership could be the way forward in getting better coverage and services for the public. Currently Stagecoach carries 97 per cent of the resort's bus passengers and will only operate commercially viable routes.Some services were cut and streamlined last year following strike action by drivers.The rest of this news item can be read by clicking here but abi parkes of the Herald Express seems to live on a different planet than the rest of us.

Monday, November 01, 2004
31 and 34
I stopped at castle circus going up union street heading for newton this evening when a lady boarded the bus and asked why she had been waiting for 1 hr 45 mins for a 31 and why had 2 thirty fours gone past her. The 34 should not go up union street past castle circus. It would appear that not only did the passengers not know any thing about the new route but some of the drivers didn't either. Lack of route learning is my guess. Will they get any? Latter, in abbey road i was called a ******** by some one who had been waiting a long time.
It can only get better; i hope.