Monday, 30 May 2005

All of May 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Local Hereo Two
This is Bus Driver Dave Gilbey. Usually he is to be found driving the Marks & Sparks free Bus but one day last week he and 500 other residents of Torr were to be found taking on the might of Torbay Council.
Torbay Council wanted a Property Developer to buy the site of the old South Devon College. As a bribe it had been suggested that planning permission for low cost, high rise blocks of flats would be available.The flats would house more people per acre than were living in Glasgow slums in the early 20th century and would have been 11 stories high and a slum in 18 months and an eye sore through out the whole of Torquay and a money sink for the rest of eternity.
Dave Gilbey, supported by 500 other residents spoke at the meeting called by the council to OK the plans. After Dave had pointed out the short comings mentioned above and reminded councillors that they were elected to represent the views of the people the councillors decided that blocks of flats 11 stories high were not quiet right for Torquay. Now the devolopment can go ahead with houses on the site and the developer will just have to make less money. Shame the council didn't make this decision 18 months ago. It would have saved the developer £400,000 and the residents of Torr a great deal of worry.

Saturday, May 28, 2005
Abbey Road is Now Two Way.
Abbey Road, one of the main roads through the centre of Torquay has been a One Way Street for lots of years. Then the Highways Deportment of Torbay Council decided that as, part of a plan to improve traffic movement through the Town centre, the top section would become Two Way.To make sure everyone using the Road knew it was two way the put up signs;First there was this sign,Then there was this sign,Then there was this sign,Then there was this sign,Then there was this pillock.

Friday, May 27, 2005
Some bus drivers should be sweeping the streets.
Philippine bishop in hostage drama
A Roman Catholic bishop found himself answering an unusual call on Wednesday when he agreed to drive the get-away truck for a group of hostage takers. Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar sat in the front with three gunmen while about a dozen hostages were in the back. The bishop had agreed to drive them away from local police if the hostages were later released unharmed. The gunmen freed the hostages, then abandoned the bishop nearby. The drama began on Tuesday with what police believed was an attempted robbery of a bus travelling to the southern city of Zamboanga.
The gunmen, who got on at Plaridel, are thought to have panicked when spotted by police at a checkpoint and taken passengers hostage. A stand-off with police ensued, and the gunmen, armed with grenades, a machine gun and pistols, agreed to release some of the hostages. Crash Police then agreed that they could travel somewhere unhindered, where they would leave the passengers unharmed. But the bus' driver is reported to have deliberately crashed the bus into a ditch and fled. Editors note.This is the bus driver who should be sweeping the streets. You do not abandon your passengers like that. Drive past them at bus stops is one thing, be outright rude to them, sell them the wrong ticket, run early on the last bus; but not leave them to possibly get killed. The Bishop can have a job driving a bus any time he wants.The rebels and their hostages then transferred to a pick-up truck and Bishop Cabajar, who had become involved in the negotiations, said he would drive. Their vehicle was trailed by police and journalists, before the gunmen ordered the hostages to jump out of the truck along a road south of Pagadian. They were then taken to hospitals. The bishop was abandoned in the remote town of Lakewood, west of Pagadian.

Thursday, May 26, 2005
Only in America
My partner was surfing the net and I asked him, "Any thing interesting?"He replied, "Yes, a woman in America called the Police 20 times in 38 minutes.""Why?", said I."Guess."I tried air conditioning not working, cat wont eat it's Kittie Kat, neighbour is snoring, bus went past her at bus stop, ambulance that came to take her to hospital after life threatening acident is the wrong colour, just discovered George Bush is President."no, no, no, no, no." to all these and more"Because her Pizza hadn't been delivered." came the answer after I decided I had had my 3 quesses.I asked if she was now in a mental institution."Yes," he said, slightly annoyed," I told you, she's in America."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Change of Duties
At this time of year we change from Winter Time tables to Summer time tables. The biggest change is to the 200 service which is the open Top Bus. This year it will be Running from St Marychurch and Babbacombe, down to the Harbour, on to Paignton Sea Front and up to the Zoo (As seen on TV) via Paignton Bus Station. New this year it will be then going on to Totnes.A couple of years ago it went to Brixham but that was a bit of a waste as the 12 goes to Brixham. Before that it went to Kingswear. Kingswear seems to have fallen out of favour. You can still get to Kingswear on the 120 or, better still on the Steam Train from Paignton. Totnes is a new route for the open top so best of luck to it.Most of the other changes (but not all) are to the 12 service. It is the route used by many of the holiday makers and the Students who come to Torquay for a few weeks in the summer to improve their English, and to have a good time. I think they have a good time more than improving their English. This means lots more passengers so we get more buses and slightly longer journey time.The problem for the drivers is that until we see the new Running Boards with our duties on, we don't quiet know what to expect. Will they be short, have long breaks in Paignton, will they involve shuttling back and forth between the Depot and paignton lots of times. Or will they have short first halves, short breaks at the depot and 5 hour 25 min second halves. It is always nicer to have long first halves and short second halves and nicer to have a break in Paignton. I have looked at my running board for Sunday, it does not look good. Over 9 1/2 hours. Usually I will only do this duty once every 4 weeks which is not too bad. but it is Bank Holiday on Monday and when it is Bank Holiday, what you do on the Sunday, you do again on the Monday. I have a feeling that I will enjoy my day of on Tuesday.

Monday, May 23, 2005
Manchester stamping out Cigarette Smokers.
What Manchester does to day the rest of the world does to morrow. (An old Manchester saying)Smokers fined for dropping butts
Special bins have been installed in the city for smoking-related litter
Smokers who drop their cigarette butts on the streets of Manchester are to be fined £50.
Enforcement officers are issuing the fixed penalty notices in what Manchester City Council says is a "zero tolerance" approach.
Getting tough'
Councillor Paul Murphy, executive member for direct services at Manchester City Council, said: "There will be no excuse. Clearing cigarette butts off our streets is a poor use of council tax payers' money so we must stamp it out." What do they do, have special teams who go round just picking up ciggie butts and leave all the other litter for the regular street cleaners?
I wonder what they will do about gum, discarred fast food containers(ofter with fast food still in said containers) beer cans, news papers, nappies and all the other junk we (some off us any way) drop? Create special teams for each item. "No, sorry mate. I'm in the used bus ticket team. I don't do used tram tickets."
Maybe they should try an idea that the Coucil in Manchester had back in the early sixties. To try and shame people in to not dropping litter cirtain areas were not cleaned for months at a time. It didn't work too well, mostly because no one noticed the difference. Mind you a lot of councils have and are still copying this Manchester idea.Also didn't they know that there is it all ready a Law about dropping litter.

Friday, May 20, 2005
Bus V Bridge
Here is a story from the London Evening Standard about a bus driver in London.10 May 2005This was the scene after a bus driver ploughed a double-decker into a low bridge, ripping the roof off.The No 75 was severely damaged after the female driver took an unauthorised detour in south-east London in a bid to make up time. She had earlier been involved in another collision, hitting a bus and causing minor damage. The passengers had to get off and take a different bus.When the replacement vehicle arrived, the driver was ordered to return to Catford garage. Finding herself behind schedule, she took a detour often used by single-deckers. But one bridge in Sydenham was too low and the top sheared off, causing £50,000 damage in the accident last week. No passengers were on board.The driver, who has not been named, was in shock but declined medical treatment. She was suspended and later decided to resign. Stagecoach said: "An internal investigation is ongoing."The mistakes you can make when working under pressure.Fortunately there are not too many low bridges here in Torbay.

Penn Inn Bus Shelter
Some time ago we had a bus shelter at the Penn Inn Roundabout. Then a drunk in a Jag dicided to try and go round the roundabout at 70 mph. He lost control and we lost our Bus shelter.Well on Tuesday it was cold, wet and windy and a passenger boarding the bus asked if there was any chance that we were going to erect a new bus shelter. I said I would have a word with the Depot Manager. Wednesday was my day off and when I went in to work on Thursday I mentioned the Bus Shelter. He said he would see what he could do.I took this picture of the new Penn Inn Roundabout Bus Shelter 6 hours later.It just goes to show that if you want something doing you just have to ask the right person.

Sunday, May 15, 2005
Good Afternoon Driver,isn't it a nice day?
When a passenger gets on the bus most of them have the good sense just to ask for a ticket to where they are going and say thank you when they get their change. The reason for this is if you get on a bus and the driver is coming to the end of a long and maybe hard duty which has entailed driving four or six times though the road works at Monks Bridge 4 or 6 times through Preston and up and down the Newton Road 7 zillion times the last thing he wants to be told is (for the 200th time that day) that it is a nice day. He probably thinks, "The next person who tells me it's a nice day is going to get strangled."Well on Saturday the controllers at Torquay found out what it was like. Some time late Friday night some one smashed the glass in the bus shelter at Cadewell lane. The First bus driver at 6:00 am reported this to control who said "Thank you, we will let the council Know." 15 minutes later the next driver, who had not been on his bus when the first driver reported the smashed glass also reported it. 15 minutes later the next driver did. As more and more drivers signed on they all took one look at this mess and got on the radio to control and reported the state of the glass. Smashed.In all about 15 drivers during the day reported the shelter.The last one to report it did so at about 5:00 pm and was told in no uncertain terms that for the next 6 months he was on loan to Stagecoach Glasgow. I was getting worried at this point that some one else would get on the radio and say,"Do you know about the bus Shelter?" They would have probably ended up on permanent nights in Newton Abbot.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Rule one of Stress Free Bus Driving.
Rule One of Stress free bus driving is "Always Be Nice To Passengers."
So to cut a short story even shorter, to day I pulled away from the College stop heading for Newton. A few seconds later the bell rang for the next stop, Torr Train Station 300 yards up the road.When I got there I had to stop 5 yards from the actual stop because there was a line of 10 cars stretching back from some red traffic lights. Half the bus was in the Bus Stop bay marked out in the road so I opened the doors and two passengers got off. There was a woman standing at the bus stop and she made no move towards the bus so I decided that she was waiting for the X46 which also stops at this stop.In the course of time the lights changed and as the car in front off me moved of I released the brakes and also moved off. As I reached the bus stop the woman put her hand out for me to stop.Click on "ring the bell" below and tell me whatA) I did next and B) What you would have done.

Monday, May 09, 2005
Driver Drivers
There are over 210 drivers at the depot I work at. I don't know them all personally and some of them I only know they work for the company because they wear the company uniform. If I saw them off duty I would not recognize them.One of them has the surname Drivers, I don't know who he, or she is but when I find out I am going to punch him/her in the head.Why you might ask. well Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Drivers is a bloody nuance. He is always letting people get on and of the bus at traffic lights, always lets students use their college passes when they are not going to college, always lets people get on the bus with cans of beer, lets mothers block the isle with baby buggies, lets people use their Torquay Megariders in Paignton and their Goldriders when they are out of date and when people over ride he doesn't seem to care. How do I know this. Well when passengers try to do any of the above on my bus and I wont let them I always get told, "Alltheother Drivers let me".Like I say Mr Drivers is a pain in the neck.

Sunday, May 08, 2005
Torquay Relegated.
The Bottom 7 Teams of Division One.The bottom four are relegated.Torquay go down because they had a worse goal difference than Milton Keynes. In the last game of the season Torquay needed only to draw to be safe even if Oldham and Milton Keynes won, which they both did. Unfortunately Torquay lost 2 - 1 at Colchester and are relegated.

Saturday, May 07, 2005
Bus Driver Kidnaps School Children
From The Herald (The Sydney Morning Herald that is)

Sydney bus driver takes abusers for a ride


A Sydney bus driver copped abuse and racial taunts from unruly schoolchildren for two days before becoming fed up and dumping them at a bus depot. The group of 40 students from Mater Maria Catholic College at Warriewood, in Sydney's north, were taken on a 30-minute ride before being dumped at Brookvale bus depot on Thursday afternoon. The students are alleged to have abused and threatened the driver as he drove the 748 bus from Warriewood to Brookvale. Police are investigating the incident and were to speak with the driver's employer, the State Transit Authority, and Mater Maria Catholic College principal Tony Bracken. New South Wales Transport Minister John Watkins said the driver had been stood down with full pay while the matter was being investigated. The Rail, Tram and Bus union has defended the driver, saying it was the second day in a row he had been abused by the students. Union president Peter Jenkins labelled claims the children had been "kidnapped" as ridiculous. School principal Bracken said the incident was concerning, but he was confident it would be resolved. "Clearly there has been some behaviour which has been inappropriate and clearly we need to do something about that." - AAP
Problems can be the same even when the sun shines all the time.

The Last Game of the Season
To day Torquay United Play their last game of the season. Last year they were promoted From what used to be the 4th division to the 3rd. They did not have the best of seasons and even now they could go back down again. To day decides their fateIf Torquay win or draw they stay up.If Torquay loose they stay up if Milton Keynes Dons draw or loose , if Milton Keynes win and Torquay loose then Oldham must draw or loose.Their game to day is away to Colchester.Play well today Torquay.

May Day Bank Holiday Weekend
The May Day Bank Holiday weekend has been and Gone and it was frantic. Hundreds of thousands of people came down to beautiful Devon either for a day out or a long weekend. The weather was not at it's best but it was mostly dry and warmish.The traffic started building up early Saturday morning and as well as the usual holiday traffic we had a few thousand motor bikes down for the annual Paignton Motor Bike show. A couple of the motor bikers tried to undertake me on the Newton Road, using the Cycle Lane. It must be a bit "fresh underpants time" when you are doing 50 mph on a motor bike and the bus you are about to pass on the left puts on a left turn signal and pulls into a bus lay by.The traffic got so bad that buses were running late all over the place. At one time I heard on the radio that 5 buses heading heading for Brixham had just entered Paignton Bus Station, the last one was the only one on time and it was the bus in front of me. I was still at Scott's Bridge and running Half an hour late. Sorry if you were waiting for a bus at this time.Sunday was almost as bad but by Bank Holiday Monday it had started to ease up a little; but only a little. Just a fore taste of the summer. It was a good job I had Tueday and Wednesday off.In 4 weeks we have an other Bank holiday and as I do a rota that repeats it's self every 4 weeks I will be doing exactly the same

Friday, May 06, 2005
election result 2005
Adrian Sanders Liberal Democrat 19,317
Marcus Wood Conservative 17,288
David Pedrick-Friend Labour 6,972
Graham Booth UK Independence Party 3,726
Majority 2,029
Turnout 47,303
Adrian Sanders the sitting LibDem MP was reelected with a much smaller majority. and the Labour Party and the UKIP both increased their share of the vote.The UKIP increase was probably due to the large fishing community in the area which feel that Europe is doing them no good what so ever. Also there are people living here in the South West who feel that being part of the UK is not a good idea and being part of Europe is on the far side of insanity. The increase in Labour vote is probably due to the fact that we have a LibDem Council who when they were elected, gave them selves a one million pound pay rise. People remember this sort of thing. An other reason for the lower majority is at the last election the Tory Candidate shot him self in the foot. A couple of weeks before the election he was confronted by a small group a young persons while visiting his mother's house and he went out to deal with them armed with an air rifle. The people of Torbay probable felt ( unlike voters in Tony Blair's seat) that electing some one to Parliament who takes the Law in to his own hands and resorts to violence was not a good idea and voted for Adrian. This time they voted for UKIP and Labour.

Thursday, May 05, 2005
Bus hits Shop Canopy.
RUSSIAN ROULETTEOr Bus Bid to Turn Burger King into Drive Through.11:00 - 04 May 2005 From the Herald ExpressPedestrians are playing Russian Roulette with their lives when they walk through a busy Torquay town centre street, it has been claimed.A Stagecoach double decker smashed into the over-hanging canopy of a shop at 9.30am yesterday.Fleet Street jeweller John Doble said after the incident: "You play Russian Roulette when you walk down the street. I'm sure it deters customers." (Half a Million people walk down this street each week, that does not sound like many are being deterred.)Nobody was hurt in yesterday's incident at the Burger King restaurant.The bus was damaged but glass in the canopy was not effected because it had not been replaced following an earlier and similar accident. (But not involving a bus).Simon Hosking, commercial marketing manager of the Fleet Walk shopping complex, said: "A few years ago my staff were called to an incident just down the road where a woman was trapped underneath a lorry. It was horrendous."We've asked for change and I've lobbied on behalf of the traders and we are at the same point we were years ago."It would be really good to see proactive measures taken rather than reactive ones when someone gets injured. (Buy a Digital Camera and take photos of all the cars driving up and down Fleet St and report them to the police, asking what action they intend to take.)Mr Hosking added: "We've replaced 80 pieces of glass over the past four years. Where the incident happened yesterday day isn't even our property."We've sustained £20,000 damage over the past three years due to traffic."The area isn't specifically designed for these types of buses. (No Victorian Town Centre is)"It was designed for things like the smaller Bayline vehicles." (At the moment 12 deckers an hour pass up and down Fleet St. If we used 28 seater buses that number would have to go up to 36 an hour)He added: "There needs to be a permit system to allow certain vehicles legally to pass through the street. (There is, but the police do not enforce it. I have been driving along that Street for over 6 years and I have seen thousands of vehicles driven and parked there but never any police action. (There are far too busy else where. So a police woman told me))."I have no problem with legitimate vehicles. (Buses are on the list of nine types of vehicle that are permitted in Fleet St)"This needs to be enforced, as does the parking restrictions which are from 10am to 6pm."There also needs to be a speed limit, again enforceable. At the moment you can't have one in a pedestrianised area." (Buses do have a 10mph company speed limit, if you see a bus going faster than that take it's number and report it to the company)He added: "We see 500,000 pedestrians and 7,000 vehicles a week, off peak, here."It's a mix that without anything done about it could lead to danger."( Exactly how many accidents have there been in Fleet St compared to say Union St?)Malcolm Webley, Torbay Council's assistant director for highways and engineering, said: "Whilst the council enforces parking regulations, the issue of vehicles entering Fleet Street to load and unload during the day is one for the police officers and police traffic wardens to enforce. ( See earlier comment about the police. A council official told me that there had absolutely no control over what the Police did or didn't do.)"We have already taken action as a result of our consultation with traders, but we would be pleased to have another meeting with them."Jeweller Mr Doble said shoppers did not want to dodge between vehicles.He claimed: "Vehicles are also causing damage to the drains and road surfaces.(There isn't a road in the country where vehicles don't damage the road surface and drains, buses pay £500.00 a year road tax to help pay for this.)"Children managed to pick up loose bricks the other day and started chucking them around. ( Blame the parents, every one else does)"When buses hit a canopy, glass comes down on to whatever is below."Something needs to be done."( How about writing "Beware of Buses" in the roadway?)Working opposite the scene of the accident, shop assistant Darran Smith claimed: "It's like Formula One here." (That's just cars,who shouldn't be there.)Richard Peters, who runs a coffee shop opposite the accident site, added: "It's very lucky that no-one was injured. Vehicles seem to be all over the place."Chris Hilditch, managing director of Stagecoach Devon, backed calls for more stringent enforcement of parking controls.He said: "If glass had been involved it would have been a nightmare situation."Torbay Council has new parking wardens now and we've been working with them."I appreciate they've taken the softly, softly approach since they started. ( That stops on Friday. Well it is a LibDem Council and we do have a LibDem MP and we wouldn't want to upset the voters just before an election would we.)"I think that was a good idea."But now the gloves have to come off, and vehicles that are not meant to be in Fleet Street should be stopped from going down there. ( Parking Attendants have no power over moving vehicles, only the police can stop vehicles that should not be there. (See earlier comments))."It's not just Fleet Street where we face this problem. It's all over Torquay."They need to get rid of the vehicles that don't belong there."In previous incidents, a woman passenger suffered minor injuries after a bus and a van were involved in a collision in Fleet Street last September.In October a nine-year-old boy was lucky to escape without injury after a collision with a bus in the same street.In 2002 traders stepped up calls to ban all traffic from the area after a double-decker bus ploughed into a glass canopy just yards away from yesterday's accident. (It takes 25 mins by bus to get from the top of Fleet Walk to Paignton. Close Fleet Walk to buses and it will take 40 Mins and almost certainly cost more, and fewer people would come to Torquay from Paignton and Brixham. They would be deterred).N.B.The comments in red are mine; not the Herald Express's....

Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Breaking the Law anfd Insurance.
TThis photo was taken in Fleet Street on Saturday. Fleet Street is a pedestrianised area of Torquay. Certain classes of vehicles are allowed in Fleet Street including buses. Fleet Street Management Committee have produiced figures which suggest that 1000 vehicles a day drive up and down Fleet Street and half of them are doing so illeagally.However for many years now the police have been far too busy to bother with the odd 500 vehicles a day that drive down Fleet Street illeagallly. While I have been living in Torquay about 500 times a day 7 days a week 52 weeks a year for 7 years (which = 1.2 million approx law breakers) have been over looked due to the police being too busy else where.In case you are tempted to risk Fleet Street, your insurance compamy can and will refuse to pay out if you were breaking the law at the time of any RTA( Road Traffic Accident). Have fun!!!

Friday, April 29, 2005
Bus stops and the Lottery
We were sat around talking as you do and the subject of bus stops came up. If you drive a 12 the worse bus stop is Windy Corner coming out of Paignton and next is Brunell Road in Newton Abbot. I happen to mention there was a stop between Windy Corner and Cherry Brook that I had never stopped at in the 7 years I have been driving the route. Two hours later I arrived at the stop and their was a gentleman with his hand out.I just thought I would mention that I have been using 6,9,12,29,43 and 48 as my numbers on the lottery and I have never won more than £10.00.If this strategy works and I win a couple of Million please send your begging letters. I will post the best.

Thursday, April 28, 2005
Urban Terrorists
There was an item on the net a few days ago about a woman in the US who found a finger in a take away meal. She announced that she was going to sue. The company that provided the meal checked their workers and all of them had all their fingers. Further checks discovered that the woman had a history of finding things in meals and she was arrested.This culture of sueing some one at the drop of a hat, with its origin's in the US has spead and is effecting our lives just as the activities of the IRA and other Terrorist Groups have.
One small example is that Companies now are forced to take measures that go beyond reasonable. An example of that is the issuing to all drivers with a yellow jacket to be worn at all times when a driver is not in side the depot or the cab of his bus. If I feel my addiction growing and decide to step out side to feed this addiction I have to fish about inside my bag to get my yellow jacket out and put it on before I can step out side. I have no problem with stepping out side for a smoke, it's having to put on the yellow jacket first.A few drivers standing at the front door starts to look like a flock of dandilions.
Even to walk 10 feet from the door way to the pavement I have to wear the jacket. How soon before any one crossing a road will have to don a similar jacket. Imagine a court room in 10 years time.Judge, summing up a case;"Well yes, the driver of the car was doing 80 mph, was 3 times over the drink limit, had failed his test 15 times and banned from driving for 20 years and did mount the pavement, the car had faided it's MOT but the little old lady didn't have her yellow jacket on. Not Guilty."