Wednesday, 30 March 2005

All of March 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
On the sick; still.
Two weeks ago on the 15 March I pulled the deltoid muscle in my right arm. I had to go off duty it was that painful. So I went to the doctor and he gave me a sick note for 2 weeks.
Well it's still not right and I had to go to the doctor to day and he has given me an other 2 weeks off. I have been climbing up the walls for the last two weeks bored out of my head; what are the next two weeks going to be like? To make matters worse it is raining cats and dogs here in beautiful Torquay.

News in the Budget.
On Wednesday we had the Budget, The Chancellor Gorden Brown stated that from next year every one over 65 would get free bus travel. Pensioners already get free travel in Wales and London - and Scotland is soon to introduce the move too. Most other areas of the UK offer only half-price fares.
Now Mr Brown wants it rolled out to all over-65s nationwide - it will also be available to all disabled people.
The move, which will cost the Department for Transport £420m a year, only applies to off-peak journeys.
The Transport 2000 group welcomed the move but said pensioners may find their could not travel free outside their local areas.
A government spokesman said many councils were doing deals with their neighbours to allow this to happen. ( From the BBC web site)
Now us in the bus trade will find this a boost. At present it costs a pensioner living in say Roselands in Paignton or in Sandygate in Newton over £2.00 to come and play Bingo in Torquay. Now they will be able to travel free so they will make the trip more often.
The Bus Company will be paid a set fee for each pensioner travelling. A pensioner travelling 5 or 6 times a week will generate more income than the same pensioner travelling once and paying half price.
There will be more pensioners on the buses but now they won't take as long to get on the bus because they won't have to pay.
We have a lot of old people living here in the bay who will be gratefull to Mr Brown but the chance of them voting in a Labour MP here in Torbay are slim.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Quiet Days
quiet is how you would describe February and March in Torquay. Christmas has gone and Easter is only ten days away. This quietness is reflected on the number of people travelling on the buses but the season is not far off. Quiet days are nice but eventually they get boring and I look forward the rush that spring and summer bring. By the end of September I will be fed up of the holidaymakers and looking forward to quiet days again.
Yesterday (Tuesday) was quiet and I expected today to be just as uneventful. Problem is I woke with a bit of a pain in my arm and when I got to work I was beginning to realise that I had a pulled muscle in my right arm. I mentioned it to the controller asked him if there was a spare driver. Fortunatly there was because After an hour of trying to drive one handed I gave up and signed off.
Past experience with pulled muscles suggests that the next 3 weeks will be quiet days. Still There is still some decorating to finish and the garden needs lots doing to it. Shame I won't be able to do any painting or digging for the next few weeks.

Saturday, March 12, 2005
Second Crash of 2005
A second crash in less than a week, what am I doing wrong?Well this one was Not my fault, honest. I was stationary at a bus stop and had been for about a minute. Due to the fact that an other bus was stopped in front of me the back of my bus was close to a traffic island. There was room for cars to get through with care and several did. but this boy racer apparently did not use care and went through the gap so fast that by the time I had heard the bang and looked round he had gone.
Just a slight scrape to the bus but the wing mirror cover of the car was lying in the road. Proves that some people just have to get past the bus.The problem with incidents like this is the waste of time involved. I have to fill in a form for the company and because details were not exchanged I had to report the matter to the Police.
After the hit and run I continued into Brixham. A passenger boarded the bus and was paying his fare when an other person came on the platform. The second person looked like he had been thrown out of a New Age Traveller's Camp for being too scruffy. But he started threatening my passenger and I was forced to call for Police assistence.Before they arrived ( and they did arrive very quickly ) an alleged assult had taken place on the bus and one person ended up on the ground with 3 Policemen holding him down while they Handcuffed him. Me, I had lifted the security Screen and was quite safe in the cab.When my passenger left the bus in Preston he remarked that it had been an interesting evening. Later that evening I had to make a wittness statement. At the moment the whole thing is Sub Judica but if I hear any more I will let you Know ..
Incidents like this are very rare thank goodness but they do give us something to talk about in the canteen.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Baby buggies
Since we got the new low floor double deckers the sight of a baby buggy waiting at a bus stop has lost it's horrors. In the old day's, more than a year ago, the buses had two steps and no way could the buggie be wheeled on the bus. To get on the bus, mother had to remove the baby from the buggy together with a weeks groceries, fold the buggy up and struggling with baby and groceries and buggy climb on the bus, put baby, buggy and groceries down some where and pay fare and sit down. To get of the bus mother had either to abandon baby, buggy and groceries or go through the whole process in reverse. All this took time. Now I press a buuton and the platform goes down a few inches and buggy is wheeled on and parked in an area designed for the buggy, baby and groceries with little effort. Getting of is even easier; no fare to pay.
So why did the sight of a baby buggy fill me with horror yesterday?
Well, I wasn't working and I was in a pub with my partner having a quiet drink. There are lots of pubs in Torquay, some have signs saying "Family Room" or "Children Welcome" or "Large Screen Sky Sports". We tend to give these places a miss. We were in the Cider Press, a nice warm pub with lots of seats, no TV, beck's Larger and a sign at the door saying " No one under 14 allowed in this Bar".
Then, half way through second pint in walked a couple, mother pushing a buggy with baby and groceries. A 5 year old child was also in attendance. They sat down and ordered drinks. We went to the Bar and asked for our money back. The manager was called and said they were family and what could he do. I pointed out that Children under 14 were not allowed in the bar area of a pub and I suggested that he could politly ask then to go some where with a sign at the door saying "Baby Buggies welcome".
He did give us our money back but it would have been nicer if he had taken my advice. If I want to listen to babies crying I will nip up to the Maternity Ward in Torbay hospital except that since MRS. A Started working there they wont let you in.

Monday, March 07, 2005
First Crash of '05
The tittle suggests that I expect more crashes this year, I don't but you never know. My last crash was in Feb 2004 and that wasn't my fault. What makes this one different was that this crash was my fault. Actually to call it a crash is a bit over the top, it was more a bump.
It happened in Paignton Bus station. There we drive the bus into a bay and load up and reverse out. Normally no problem, just move back a few feet and swing the wheel round as fast as possible. Buses have great turning circles for their size. The problem this time was an other bus had been parked very close to me and I was going at 2 mph, concentrating on not hitting the back of the bus next to me bus and I forgot to watch the back of my own bus. It hit the garage that was situated in a most inconvenient place; right behind the bay I was reversing from. The damage to the garage was nil, to the bus slight, to my pride, enormous.By the way The garage is used to being hit. I'm not the first and so long as it is there I won't be the last (hint, hint Stagecoach).

Saturday, March 05, 2005
Road Works
This is just a list of the current roadworks on the 12 Route.
On Monday the Road work started between Laywell Lane and Monks Bridge in Brixham. The plan is to widen part of the road, knock part of Adrian's wall down and construct a nine foot wide carriageway for cycles and pedestrians in the valley below the road. It was expected to take 12 weeks which would take us through Easter and into early summer. Now it seems that it will take an extra 3 weeks. On wednesday 3 way traffic lights were set up and long delays ensued. There are small side roads into Brixham and most of the locals have started using them so delays to day were slight. Trouble is they are too small for the buses and holiday makers don't know them. As the summer starts the trip times into and out of Brixham could get very long. We will have to wait and see.
Other road works on the 12 route include making Abbey Road two way and narrowing Union Street. These two roads are in the centre of Torquay and are part of a plan to improve traffic flow through the centre of town. Union Street is being narrowed so that only buses and taxis can use it. A fine idea if it works; i.e. if it is policed. Past experience suggests that this is unlikely.
A burst water main in Sherborne Rd in Newton Abbot Bus Station which is right next to the 12 bus stop is causing problems and will continue till some time next week.
Road works at the entrance to Paignton Bus station are minor and not causing problems though the Road sign warning of the road works was. It was placed in the road and we had to drive over the white line to pass it and it was just on a sharp bend. Some nice person has moved it. The Dept of Transport have guide lines for such signs, they must be so far from the work and they are placed there even if, as in many cases the signs are more dangerous than the roadworks they are warning about.

Thursday, March 03, 2005
Hop a long the pigeon
David Attenborough has his gorillas, Steve Irwin has his Crocodiles and Paignton has it's pigeon.
This is Hop a Long. She got some thing wrapped around her feet and was in a bad way. The canteen staff at Paignton Bus station managed to free her but she was still very upset. The other pigeons were picking on her and she wasn't getting any food.
So now each day she gets food and water put down for her and though she still looks a little bedraggled she seems to be getting by.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Horlick's adverts.
When a bus turns up late and you ask the driver why he is late you expect an answer such as, "Roadworks, Heavy traffic, Bus broke down, Had the running board upside down, Stopped for a coffee, etc." Well I have a new reason. I watched an advert on the TV last night.Recently there have been a some adverts on TV by the Horlick company. The opening shot is of a Traffic Warden standing over a car parked on a meter. The meter clicks and the Penalty Flag jumps up. The Traffic Warden intantanously slaps a ticket on the car and walks away with a slight, but pleased smile on her face.A voice over then asks the question, "How does she sleep at night?"We then find out as the scene changes to the warden at home with a mug of Horlicks.Last night there was a new ad, this time a bus driver sees a woman with shopping bags running up to catch the bus. He waits until she is level with the back of the bus, closes the doors and slowly drives away. Same question, same mug of Horlicks.Well today I was at a stop in Newton Abbot and as I was about to pull away I noticed a woman with 6 Tesco shopping bags running up to catch the bus. Not wanting to be pelted with mugs of Horlicks (sorry Horlicks, I can't stand the stuff), I opened the doors and waited. When she got on she thanked me for waiting. Now it is a well known fact that people who run up and catch a bus at the last second never have their money ready in their hand. Neither do some people who have been waiting 20 minutes for a bus, but that is an other story. This lady put her shopping bags down and tried the side pockets of her coat, then the inside pockets , then opened her coat to reveal a jacket (been very cold the last few days). She then tried the side pockets, no luck, the inside pockets, still no luck. I was begining to regret looking in my left mirror and I imagine so were the 20 passengers already on the bus. At this point I did think about switching of the engine under the Three Minute Rule.A large shoulder bag was now the place of investigation. The room where I keep the computer has less junk in it than this shoulder bag half of which was removed in an attempt to find some money. Still no luck. Then the inside of each of the plastic Tesco bags was looked at before the pockets of coat and jacket were tried once again. By this time I had decided that in future, when pulling away I would never again look in the left mirror and during my lunch break I would need to go and buy a jar of Horlick.Then a look of hope appeared on the lady's face, her trousers pockets. She hadn't tried there. A flicker of hope appeared on my face too. I might get to Paignton in time to buy the Horlicks and eat my lunch. No chance. No money in said pockets either.Finally she gave up the idea of travelling on my bus and decided that she must have left her purse back in Tesco's and got of the bus to return to Tesco's in the hope that she could find it.By this time several more people were waiting to get on the bus and it had started to rain. Only 2 people can wait on the platform out of the rain so lots of people were probably going to buy a jar of Horlicks. The last person to get on the bus was the lady with the shopping. She had found her purse in the pocket half way down her trouser leg. She also said, untruthfully, "But I never put anything in there." By the time I got going I was over 5 minutes down, this was from being on time. Oh, and she only went 3 stops.Now once you are running late you start picking up passengers who should be getting on the next bus so you do more work and run even later. Eventually the next bus overtook me which meant the driver was doing some of my work. By the time I got to Brixham and loaded I was still several minues late and I ended up stopping at Churston Grammer School and loading 60 school children. Had I been on time I would have missed them. So I was even later still.Well I didn't get the jar of Horlicks and I will continue to wait for people running up the side of the bus, but please if you are running for a bus try and have the correct money ready.