Friday, 30 December 2005

Taxi Rank or Bus Stop.


In an effort to improve the centre of Torquay the Town Hall recently carried out a lot of work in Union Street. Union Street is the main road through the centre of Torquay and is the main shopping area. If you come to Torquay on holiday and want to shop don't go up to the Willows, get a 12 to Castle Circus and walk down Union Street and Fleet Walk and on to the Strand. You will now be on the Harbour and you will have past almost all the shops in Torquay.

One of the problems was that the pavements were too narrow. So the pavements were widened. This meant that to road is now narrower than it was and there is not enough room for parking on both sides. Now there are parking and unloading restrictions at all times on the right hand side of the road ( could some one tell the driver of the black car parked on the right, NCP Parking Attendants carn't be every where). Parking bays for the disabled and for unloading were established on the left in part of what was once a taxi rank. So the taxi rank which once held 15 taxis now only holds 10. And this is the most lucrative rank in town, all those shoppers exhausted after all that shopping aren't going to catch a bus.

So you're a cab driver (been there, done that, got the T shirt), you drive in to Union Street and the rank is full. It wont be in a couple of minutes, you could drive round the block but it takes 10 minutes to drive round the block in this town and when you get back more cabs will have arrived and the rank will be full again. What would you do? I know; exactly what these 3 cabs in front of me have done. Park on the bus stop. How soon before it isn't three cabs but ten and the bus stop will be an extension of the cab rank and we will have to stop in the middle of the road temporarily bringing Torquay to a dead stop?

By the way the green bit in the road is a cycle lane, you would have to be both very brave and very, very insane to ride a bike down that cycle lane. Buses pulling out, cab drivers opening doors, pedestrians stepping out and buses swerving to avoid pedestrians who step off the right hand pavement without looking are the main hazards to watch out for.

Still it all looks very nice and I am sure it is very PC.

Thursday, 29 December 2005

A Footnote and a Warning

Yesterday I told a little story about how a driver seeing a number 12 in front of him picking up at a stop end up causing two people to end up waiting almost 45 mins for a bus that runs every 15 mins. Here is a footnote to that story. Like most large depots we have 2 or 3 spare drivers on duty during the working day. They are there in case a driver goes sick while on duty or if a driver rings in sick before starting duty. They get a Running Board thrust in to their hands and told to hit the road. Even if no one goes sick they have their uses. If a bus breaks down, God forbid, they can take a spare bus out of the garage to replace the broken down bus so the service isn't held up too much. If they aren't needed then they sit around for eight and a half doing nothing except get paid. Nice if you like that sort of thing but I find sitting round doing nothing all day just a tiny bit boring. With this in mind some one at management level decided that the spare drives should do some thing useful, like running extra buses between Torquay and Paignton.

This afternoon as I left Paignton Bus Station I noticed that there was a 12 in front of me and had no idea that it was one of these extra buses. I just decided that he was running late. As we went through the lights at Manor Road the bus in front indicated that it was stopping at the next stop so I pulled out to past so I could get to the next stop and help the driver out. As I drew level doing 25 mph a woman appeared from in front of the other bus waving franticly. There was nothing I could do but stop in the middle of the road and pick her up. The other bus drove away as soon as she boarded my bus leaving me in the middle of the road with no visible reason for being there with a police car approaching from the opposite direction and 20 cars behind playing Beethoven's 5th symphony on their car horns. "What," I enquired in the most polite voice I have ever used, "Was wrong with that bus?" Dogs 200 yards away put their paws over their ears, milk in fridges in the whole of Preston went sour and dolphins that had been swimming happily in the Bay headed for the South of France. "It's only going to the Harbour, it's no use to me I want to go a bit further."

I looked around for the hole, you know the one that swallows people but is never there when you need it. Well it wasn't there so I only had one option, to sell ticket and GO. " And where would you to got to my lovely?"
"Fleet Walk Please. Return."

An other mix up.

A little light reading first. During the day there are 25 buses running between Newton and Brixham on the 12/12A service. After 7 pm there are only 11 buses running on the 12/12A service. So between 6 and 7 pm 14 buses have to come off the road. Ten of them do this by arriving in Brixham or Newton and the driver changes the destination blind to read," Sorry you can't get on this bus",(1) and runs dead(2) back to the depot.

One of the other 4 buses leaves Brixham at 17 46 but only goes as far as the depot in Torquay. The depot is next to Focas DIY store on the Newton Road. Not much use if you want to go to Newton or even Torbay Hospital. Don't worry, there will be an other bus in 15 mins. Or will there?

A few days before Christmas I was one of the remaining buses due to come off the road. I was the 18:08 out of Newton which goes only as far as Paignton. The I run dead back to the depot. When I got there it was 18:05 and there was a couple and they had been there since 17:40 waiting for a bus to Brixham. The 17:45 came in but that only goes to the Harbour in Torquay, a long way short of Brixham. But not to worry, there is a bus to Brixham at 17:52. Unfortunatly it was running 6 mins late and the bus due out at 18:00 had arrived before it and pulled up on the stop. The 18:00 only goes to Torquay Harbour. No use if you are going to Brixham. The driver of the 17:52 saw the bus on the stop and dropped his passengers and set of for Brixham happy that any one waiting for a bus would be on the number 12 on the stop. He did not know that:-
a) the bus on the stop was only going to the Harbour and:-
b) there were two people waiting to go to Brixham.
All he saw was a number 12 on the back of the bus. There are no destination blinds on the back of our Deckers.
When I left at 18:08 for Paignton there were two not happy people. The next bus for Brixham does not run until 18:23. A total wait of 43 mins. For a bus that runs every 15 mins. Sorry about that.
I have suggested to management that a 12 not going to its normal destination of Brixham or Newton should be re numbered 12X. This would alert drivers behind (the 17:52 driver in this case) that the bus in front was not going all the way to Brixham and once passengers get used to the extra X, that the bus was going to stop short of the usual destination. I'll keep you posted if anything happens re the X.

Footnotes
(1) What it does say is, "Sorry, I'm not in Service." Much more polite.
(2) Dead, the opposite of Live. A Live bus is 'In Service' and picks up passengers, hopefully.

Wednesday, 28 December 2005

Business as Usual at The Half Moon

After closing for a few days with a sign on the wall stating that the then Landlord was fed up having to pay Torbay Coucil business rates of £335.00 per week the Half Moon now has a sign on the wall stating Business As Usual. The Half Moon has been hosting live music since I first moved in to the Bay 8 years ago and I have been entertained there on many occasions. There has been an article in the local paper The Herald Express that the music will go on. Cover bands from REM to the Beach Boys, Diana Ross to the Rolling Stones and lots of others have played here and the next gig will be on New Years Eve. Good news for live music in the Bay. Full story from the Herald Express below.


HALF MOON BACK WITH CHARITY GIG

The Half Moon pub in Paignton which recently closed it doors to the public is back open again for business. The new owner, Graham Moore and Enterprise Inns plc, which will host their first major event will take place on New Year's Eve.The fundraising night will be in aid of the three-year-old cancer victim Bobby Wright.Performing on the night will be Soul Funktion, a 10-piece band who will perform party favourites such as Blues Brothers and the Commitments.There will also be a disco during the evening which runs from 8pm until late.Tickets will cost £5 with limited availability. There is a chance of being able to pay on the door. All proceeds from the ticket sales will go direct to the Bobby Wright Cancer Appeal.To reserve tickets call 01803 551385.

Sunday, 25 December 2005

Sad Santa


Half way up Abbey Road in Torquay there is a pub called the Mouse Trap, we are in Agatha Christie land after all. This sad Santa is there waving at the passing drivers.

If you have spotted a sad Santa that is even sadder than this one please don't let me know, I'm depressed enough as it is.

Half Moon in Paignton


The half Moon is, or was a well known music venue in the Bay. After stating in the Herald Express that he was not closing the pub, the landlord closed the pub the next day. Then the poster appeared re the rates he has to pay to Torbay.

I wonder if he has only just found out he has to pay rates. The pub has re openned again and hopefully is being run by some one who can do a Cash Flow Projecting to include the rates.

Friday, 23 December 2005

Bus crash in Paignton Bus Station.


If you look carefully you might make out 3 cracks in the paint work next to the lights. Well OK, to call it a bus crash was a bit over the top. On the accident report form where it asked for Speed at Time of Accident I wrote half a mile an hour. Unfortunately what I hit was an other bus. Which came off slightly better than my bus did. Indeed the station controller told me that there had been no damage; but the light was poor on the bus station, when I got to Newton Abbot where the light was better I noticed the cracks. An other black mark on the record. I do have a defense but my lawyer says it will only hold water if I freeze the water first and that is cheating.

Tuesday, 20 December 2005

LUCKY ESCAPE IN BUS ACCIDENT

An elderly man escaped with minor injuries after colliding with a Stagecoach bus on Falkland Road in Torquay yesterday. The 78-year-old local man was taken to Torbay Hospital for a check-up after the accident just off Avenue Road just before midday.

The 32 H bus was heading down Falkland Road towards Kings Drive when it was in collision with the pensioner.Insp Glen Mayhew said from the scene: "There was a collision between a bus doing its normal route and an elderly pedestrian at approximately 11.45am. Early indications are his injuries are not too serious. We expect him to be discharged soon."Subsequent inquiries revealed that man had suffered minor cuts only.

The above is taken from an item in the local paper, The Herald Express.

A collision between a pedestrian and a bus is one of those things that all bus drivers dread. I don't mean we wake up in the morning worrying if to day will be the day and need to take a few pills to calm our nerves down enough so we can go to work; but when the news came out over the radio the first thought was 'I wonder if the pedestrian is OK' followed at once by the same question about the driver.

I have been in this position of hitting a pedestrian, not while driving a bus but a taxi. Ask me what I did last Thursday and I would have to think about it quite hard but I can still remember every detail from the moment I realized I was going to hit some one to the time I had stopped and got out of the taxi and this was 39 years ago.

Following the advice about falling of a horse I drove the taxi the next day and our driver did the same thing. He was in work to day which I believe is the best thing for him to do.

I also hope the pedestrian is up and about some and puts the Green Cross Code on his must read list.

Bus Stops

You're driving along without a care in the world when suddenly a voice is heard to cry in desperation"You've gone past my stop." It happens now and then, you get distracted and forget the bell has been rung or you didn't hear the bell in the first place. Usually you pull up at the first reasonably safe place and let the passenger off the bus at the same time saying sorry about 17 times. Well I do, other drivers may have different ideas.

But in the last few months this has happened 5 times and not for the above reasons. Yesterday I was driving up the Grand Canyon heading for Brixham. There is a stop at the YMCA. I mean there was. It's not there now. Has the stop turned in to a triffid and up rooted and moved some where more interesting? Have a gang of drunken rugby players stolen it and are now using it for what ever dark purpose drunken rugby players do with stolen bus stops? Or have the council moved it and not told anyone. (Note bus stops are a council matter) My guess is the council.

No problem for my passenger, a little, dear sweet old lady. She ended up closer to home. However when I mentioned the changed site of the stop, one driver, new to the twelves said he had heard the bell and driven along looking for the stop and had ended up at Waterside, over 1/2 a mile down the road. His dear sweet little old lady was not best pleased, especially as it was raining cats and dogs at the time.

As well as this walking bus stop there have been 5 new bus stops put up and the only way I have found them is the a passenger saying, "You've gone past my stop." Or in one case a passenger jumping out in front of me with arm out streched. I mean when you have driven a route 2 or 3 times you do look out for bus stops but after 10 000 time along the same route you tend not to bother.

Thursday, 15 December 2005

More on the wood carvings

On Sunday evening I emailed Teignbridge District Council and Devon and Cornwall Police about the Wood Carvings. I wanted to find out if anything could be done in the interests of speeding up the flow of traffic to prevent the wood caver from displaying his wares at the side of the road. I received an email on Monday from the police who said it would be passed on to a local office and gave me a log number 415 12 12 05.
On Monday a message was left on my answer machine from an officer in Paignton Police Station who said that the carver had been carrying out his activities for the past 2/3 years with no great problems. ( Not true; every time he appears he delays the traffic.) He had spoken to Trading Standards who said it was not their problem and to Teignbridge District Council who said it was not their problem. He added that the only thing they (the Police) could take issue with was if he was causing an obstruction. He had added that this would be difficult to prove because of the normal congestion along that stretch of road.
At 10:40 on Wednesday morning I rang Paignton Police Station and spoke to SEO who said she would add my comments to the log.
At 10:50 an officer from Paignton Police Station rang back and listened to my comment about the increase to journey times and I told him about the photos and the times I had taken them. These photos showed that it had taken 19 mins to get from Scotts Bridge to Aller.( On Thursday at 17:30 in the middle of rush hour it had taken 5 mins to cover the same distance. )
I did suggest that if he wanted more comments about this problem he should nip over to Paignton Bus Station canteen and ask any 12 driver what they thought about the wood carvings. So far he hasn't been. He said that he would pass every thing over to the Road Safety Officer to have a look at the situation.
At 4:30 pm Teignbridge District Council replied to my email with the comment that my request had been handed to the Planning Office who would contact me in due course.

I am not holding my breath.

Tuesday, 13 December 2005

Bus Stop, not coach stop

This is the bus stop at Brixham Bank Lane. My bus is the one at the front. Then came the coach and the driver looked at the bus stop and decided that he too was driving a bus, not a coach. Then, as he was unloading his passengers for a days wander round the delights of Brixham an other 12 turned up. The driver of the coach got a bit upset that I had taken photos of his coach and wanted to know why. I told him I always take pictures of coaches illegally parked on bus stops. I didn't tell him that all I ever did with them was show them here. He even got on the bus and was shouting at me, silly man. I was tempted to shut the doors and drive away but an ambulance turned up and we had to move away in a hurry.
Coach firm was North Dorset, from Bournemouth, phone number 01203 311799

Monday, 12 December 2005

Delays on the A380, the road not the plane.


On Saturday and Sunday the main road between Torquay and Newton Abbot, the A380 slowed almost to a stop. Drivers who travel along this road were probably not surprised when they reached Scotts Bridge on their way out of Torquay to find traffic at a stand still. On going work by the local water board have been causing long delays on this road in recent weeks. Also this road, which has been the centre of a demand for a bypass over the last few years is accident prone, maybe at some point in their journey the motorists and their passengers would be treated to the sight of some poor sod being cut out of his wreaked car and carted away in an ambulance. After a mile and a half which took over 15 mins to cover they discovered what was causing the hold up.

Delays on the A380, the road not the plane. part 2


No, not a ten car pile up with the grisly remains of former motorists being carted away, not even a hole in the road with a couple of workmen leaning on their shovels looking board but these crude carvings at the side of the road. Those of us who have been driving along this road over the last 4 or 5 years have seen these lumps of wood in this spot at summer holiday time and just before Christmas. We don't slow down and go, "Oh look wood carvings. How wonderful." unfortunately lots of people do. And this is what is causing the delay.So OK the guy in the green shirt has to make a living selling these things but why is he allowed to do so in a manor that disrupts the traffic flow along what is one of the busiest roads in the South West. While he was displaying this crude waste of good fire wood tens of thousands of people had there journey time increased by 15 mins. Also everyone knows that slow moving cars projuce lots and lots of green house gas. The man is practicaly destroying the planet single handed.Most traders who wish to sell some thing like this go to Craft Fairs (he'd be thrown out for giving craft a bad name), or the rent a market stall, or they go on e-bay. Please Teignmouth Council, there must be some thing you can do. The man must be committing an offence, apart from ill treating wood that is.

Sunday, 11 December 2005

Delays on the A380, the road not the plane. Part 3


Let's face it. Michelangelo has nothing to fear. And would you want this in your garden?

Well if your next door neighbour's cat digs holes in the lawn to bury its doings maybe this would persuade it to go else where; maybe it would persuade your neighbour to go else where as well.

Friday, 9 December 2005

Blue Badges


Now and then I have a go at Blue Badge holders who park their cars in places they shouldn't. In case you don't know holders of Blue Badges are disabled and are allowed to park their cars in places that would normally get non blue badge holders a FPN. The fixed penalty round here is £60.00. Lots of BBH's park on double yellow lines even though there is a handy car park and with no regard for the fact that the yellow lines are there either to keep the road clear for people to drive along or because it may be dangerous to park there. There are two main reasons why they do this. One is that they may be so disabled that even to walk a few yards may be difficult or impossible for them. Well if that is the case then good luck and best wishes to them. The other reason is, why pay to use a car park when you can park for 3 hours for free on double yellow lines. Stand about in Hyde Road in Paignton for a while and watch a BBH park his/her car on double yellow lines and walk of into the distance when it would be a shorter walk is they had gone in the car park. A dangerous place BBH's park is on the bend at the top of new road in Brixham and then walk past the car park on their way to go shopping.

As the picture shows not all BBH's fall into this second category. The anxious looking gentleman in the picture is the driver of the car shown with his Blue Badge. He had taken the trouble to go into the car park and pay his fee only to find that all the Disabled Bays had been filled by non blue badge holders.

Over the years the number of Blue Badges has grown and the rules need looking at to reflect this change. More disabled bays and free parking for BBH's in car parks is one step to encourage BBH's to make greater use of the car parks and less use of valuable road space. Also the rule re free parking on any yellow line should be restricted in those places where it is a serious danger or does hold up traffic as it does in Hyde Road. Torbay rules and regulations that all BBH's get do ask BBH's not to park on yellow line when there is a car park handy. But a request has no force in Law. Please Torbay send some one out on a bus one day and have a look at this problem from the point of view of some one who has to drive through the Bay lots of times every day.

Thursday, 8 December 2005

Odd things that happened to day

First we had the Grand opening of the new, rebuilt Lydl store on Newton Rd. For weeks we have had minor problems down by the store as the car park has been reduced in size while the rebuilding was going on but to day was chaos. The main road there has Yellow lines either side and normally is clear of traffic. To day, even though NCP Parking Attendants were patrolling, both sides of the road were full of parked cars. Not one parking ticket was issued. Why not I hear you ask? All the blue badge holders in Torbay had turned up and they can park just about any where they want. And they do.
It doesn't say much for the Bay when the main attraction for all the disabled people here is the reopening of a food store. I had some Lydl baked beans once, 4p a tin and they tasted just like 4p. As well as this lot there were people who had come from yards away for this grand re-opening and were lined up in the middle of the road trying to get in to a clearly full car pak from both directions will a grim determination to get in and sample what ever cheap samples were going and never mind if they blocked the road. Please Mr Lydl, next time you re open your store hire a couple of police persons to direct traffic.

Then on the Post Office roundabout some idiot parked his 20 tonne van and blocked the road while he wandered off some where, Torquay came to a sudden stop for ten minutes before he came back and drove away without a care in the world.

Then in to Paignton where we have a diversion due to road works. This diversion means we have to turn from Hyde Rd into Torbay Rd, a very tight turn at best of times. Yesterday I spoke to someone fron the Town Hall about the fact that Blue Badge holders were parking on this corner making it very difficult for us to get round with the buses. He said he would get on to the police and get them to put some No Parking Cones down. With all the blue badge holders down at Lydls I didn't expect to find any there to day. There were. Some people are determined to cause chaos and when you have a go at them they just smile, point to their badges and say, "I can park where I like." And then walk down to the sea front 300 yards away.
Oh yes, there were no cones any where to be seen.

Then came the news over the bus radio that the end of Shipey Lane was close by the junction of Newton Rd. There is a railway bridge just round the corner and a body had been seen on the railway line. Shipey Lane was closed for 3 hours.

Then as I was driving up Abbey Rd I noticed that 4 or 5 young men (in their twenties) were pushing an other man about. He saw the bus coming and ran up to the bus in some distress, he even tried to press the emergency entrance button to get on the bus. I opened the door and let him on and closed it before anyone else could get on. On of the other men shouted some thing not nice but then walked away and I drove of up the road. The men who had boarded the bus was very grateful, promised me a pint, he also had a ticket which I punched.

Just an other day at work.

Oh yes, I handed my NVQ folder in a few days ago and I got it back to day, marked. I haven't had a look yet, too scared.

Sunday, 4 December 2005

To day at work I heard a story that may or may not be true. It concerned a bus company situated at the Liverpool end of the East Lancs Road with a name not greatly different from a John Ford movie staring John Wayne. The story suggested that about 84 drivers and the bus company had parted in lest than amicable circumstances.

Any one out there add anything that may throw more light on this event?

Friday, 2 December 2005

DVD Recorder and Internet Shopping.

Last December that nice Mr Blair sent me £200.00 so I would vote for him; sorry so I could keep warm. We decided the best way to keep warm was not to move from in front of the TV all winter. With so many repeats on the these days (as a TV watcher since 1953 I can affirm that nothing has changed in that department) we decided to spend the heating allowance on a DVD recorder so at least the choice of repeats would be our own. Switch on computer and ask Empire Direct to send us a DVD in return for heating allowance. Please don't tell DWP or they may want the £200 back. DVD arrived complete with Instruction Manual which I now know was first written in Japanese, translated into Apatche then into Latin, into French, into Urdu, into Spanish,into Glaswegian and finally into English. It wasn't all these translations that made impossiblele to follow; it was the fact that the person who wrote it in the first place had never even seen a DVD recorder. He worked as a chicken farmer in Kamogawa.
The arrival of the second DVD recorder meant we had to set it up once again. After looking at the instructions for several hours we decided that this time it might be better if we threw the book out the window and not the recorder. Any way the recorder works fine now and have just watched the 2nd episode of Big Red Bus which I missed on Thursday as I was working.

PS this years heating allowance has been put toward air fare to Australia; dont need too much heat there. Again please don't tell the DWP.

Windy and Wet



When it is dull in Torquay it is dull. After a few days of dry cold weather to day we had wet windy weather. First a sign at the bus station got the wind treatment. Fortunately a keen eyed member of staff spotted the sign and was able to quickly secure it before any damage was done. Then down the road at Livermead a drain got blocked and a poor council workman had to clear the blockage without being washed away by the tidal wave created by passing buses.

Then two passengers who had come down to Torquay for a long weekend got on the bus and asked if it was going to get any better. I told them it was but if you click here you can see I was stretching the true a little. Well a lot really.