Friday, 29 December 2006

Why I love Bus Driving

A Play in Two Acts
Main Player
A Bus Driver
Two Supporting Players
Her
Him
Assorted Bit Players

Scene 1
There are two buses heading into Torquay from Newton Abbot. When both buses reach Torquay Harbour both drivers will go for their meal break. It is vitally important that the front bus gets to the Harbour first as the driver has a piece of equipment required by the relief driver of the second bus. There is heavy slow moving traffic as they approach Union Street at the top of town. The first bus pulls in at the stop where a bit player and Her and Him wait. The driver smiles with some relief as the second bus in now visible in the rear view mirror. The bit player boards the bus and presents a dayrider ticket which the driver conscientiously checks. It is OK and the bit player goes and sits down
Her “Do you go to Brixham?”
Driver “Yes.”
Her (to Him) “It goes to Brixham.”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her ”How much does it cost?”
Driver “ Single or return?”
Her (to Him) “Single or return?”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her “ How much is single?”
Driver “£2.80”
Her (to Him) “£2.80.”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her “Each?”
At this point the next bus has appeared at the top of Union Street.
Driver “Yes, or £4.00 return”
Her (to Him) Yes or £4.00 return.”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her ” We have OAP passes.”
Driver Gritting teeth “It’s free then.”
Her (to Him) It’s free with our passes.”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her “ They’re from Rotherham.”
At this point the bus behind comes along side but does not stop.
Driver “ Then it is £2.80 single or £3.50 return.”
Her (To Him) £2.80 single or £3.50 return.)
The other bus has now gone past.
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her ”So it will be £7.00 for both of us.”
By this time several more bit players, some holding bus tickets have arrived at the bus stop.
Driver “Yes.”
Her (To Him) “Yes”
They both step back and the bit players board the bus. The driver smiles slightly as there is still time to catch the other bus up before it reaches the Harbour. He is about to close the doors when:-
Her “How long does it take?”
Driver “About 45 Minutes.”
Her (to Him) “About 45 minutes.”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her “How often do they run.”
Driver “ 15 mins.”
Her (to Him)“15 mins.”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her “What time is the last bus back.”
Driver “ 23.10.”
Her (to Him) “23.10”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her ”What is there to see in Brixham.”
Driver “ Lots of pubs, cafes, restaurants and the Harbour with the replica of the Golden Hind.”
Her (to Him) Lots of pubs, cafes, restaurants and the Harbour with the replica of the Golden Hind.”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her “ What’s that?”
Driver, Now finding it difficult to speak as he is trying to bite through the steering wheel, “A replica is an exact copy of the original.”
Her “No the Golden Hind?”
Driver “ Frank some one or other sailed round the world in it in the 16 century.”
Her (to Him)“ Frank some one or other sailed round the world in it in the 16 century.”
Him (to Her)” Mumble, mumble mumble.”
Her “ We wont bother.”
26 more bit plays have assembled and are waiting to board the bus. As the last one does so an Ambulance with blue flashing lights turns into Union Street. The Driver succeeds in biting through the steering wheel.
but manages to drive away muttering, “When shall we three meet again. In hell hopefully.
Based on a true story.
Some dialog by Will Shakespeare.

Thursday, 28 December 2006

Bus Shelter (Conclusion)


You may have read a post from the end of November in which I mention that I had scraped a bus shelter in Long Rd. The picture here is the damage done to the bus. Click here to see the bus shelter. When I did it I got on the radio and told control what had happened, telling them that some damage had occurred. The next driver along got on the radio and told control that some one had wrecked the shelter. His description turned out to be more accurate than mine.

Any way when you do something like this you get a little letter from the Depot Manager asking you to explain what happened. He has a little think about it and then calls you into his office and carefully and politely and very, very firmly explains in words with lots of syllables that hitting another bus shelter would not be a very good career move. To back this statement up he showed me the bill for the shelter and I would like to say here and now I am glad he didn't present me with the bill as it came to just short of £6000 plus VAT. (VAT is 17.5% in case you didn't know) So if you are waiting for a bus and it arrived and stops 5 feet out in the road you know it is me, staying away well from bus shelters for the time being.

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Christmas Day on the Strand


This is the Strand in Torquay, normally a busy stretch of road but on Christmas Day looking like a scene from Survivors. Except for the gent in blue standing at the side of the road. As soon as I saw him I knew he was waiting for a bus. All those years driving a bus gives you an instinct for this sort of thing. Most people probably wouldn't have spotted it but I knew. Him standing at a bus stop kind of gave it away as well. Being a kindly soul and wishing to demonstrate my customer care skills at every opportunity I approached him and inquired if indeed he was waiting for a bus. Also I couldn't resist the chance to tell him the next bus from this stop wasn't until 06:15 on Wednesday morning. Which was in about 45 hours; quiet a long wait.

Yes, by the way, he was waiting for a bus. My good deed for the day done, I walked down to the pub for a pint.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

What Not To Do On Christmas Eve.



Some poor sod out doing a bit of last minute shopping or visiting friends or family ends up facing the wrong way on a duel carriageway with part of the front suspension smashed up to the point it can no longer hold the front nearside of the car up.
I didn't see what happened but with it being Christmas Eve the word 'Drink' jumps up and hits you between the ears. Probably absolutely nothing to do with drink, just one of those things that happens all the time on the roads but it is a shame it happen to day.
Any way, Merry Christmas to all my readers. Even those who don't believe in Christmas.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Shortest day


Dec 22nd. Up here in the Northen Hemisphere it is the Shortest Day, or as the French like everyone to believe, the Longest Night. This morning the sun came up at 08:13 and will go down at 16:08. That's 7 hours 55 mins of day, pretty short but not to worry, for the next 6 months the days will get longer until June when we have over 16 hours of day light.

As you can see from the photo we couldn't actually see the sun spring up over the edge of the world, we can't even see the houses on the other side of the valley 200 metres away so what chance have we of seeing the sun 148 million kilometres away? And to all those people stuck in Heathrow as BA cancel domestic flights due to the fog:- GO BY BUS.

Thursday, 21 December 2006

Sick

Morning passed without any problems, as it usually does. Then after my break I walked down to the main road to start the second half at 15:02 on a 12A. So I got to the stop at 14:59 and down the road I can see a 12A heading for me. Nice, on time, no chasing time all afternoon. It got even better when the bus went right past me, the driver waving to me. Then I noticed the there was an other 12A only a few seconds behind the first. Now this is gloat time, this is really nice. It means that I can potter along to Newton without having to pick much work up, the poor sod in front of me will do it all for me.

So I started to get the ticket machine set up and make my self comfortable when a lady passenger came up to me and told me very apologetically the her young daughter had just been sick on the floor of the bus. The little girl looked very pleased with her self but I am sure that was just a nervous reaction. I sure she didn't really want to deposit the contents of her
stomach all over the floor of my nice clean bus. "12 zero 3 to Orange control", said I into the radio determined to spread the bad news around and not the mess on the floor. "Stay there we will send you an other bus." At least it happened in the best place, right out side the depot.

Fortunately there were only 3 people on the bus but it was a 10 minute wait till the new bus arrived and I headed for Newton late again. So instead of having a nice easy afternoon following the 12A in front of me it was catch up time for the next two hours. Serves me right for gloating when the first 12A went by.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Thank You

Thank you all who pointed out that the phone scam I was persuaded to warn you all about was nought but an urban leyland. I shall have words with a certain person who sent me the email when I next see him. Now you know why I started the post with the words,"I don't usually do this but......."

Anyway, back at work after 16 wonderful days with out having to drive a bus and I have so much to tell you about my first two days back. On Monday I went to Brixham on a 12A and back to Paignton where I had my break. Then back to Brixham this time as a 12, up to Newton, back to Brixham, back to Newton then down to the depot for 20:14 to finish. Tuesday the places were the same but I started from the Harbour and went to Newton First before down to Brixham, back to Newton, down to the depot for break, The afternoon I forget. Who says bus drivers lead exciting lives? No one. Thought so. Well here is a nice picture to cheer you all up.

Nice of the gull just to get in the frame at the right moment.Shame about the FirstBus.

Monday, 18 December 2006

Now here is a WARNING

Now I don't usually do this, if you have a mobile phone you should be aware that there are people out there after your money but this is one more scam you need to look out for. Me, if I had a mobile I would be scared to answer the damn thing in case I got home and found the house gone. But here you are:-

If you receive a phone call on your mobile from any person, saying that, he or she is a company engineer, or telling you that they're checking your mobile line, and you have to press #90 or #09 or any other number. End this call immediately without pressing any numbers. There is a fraud company using a device that once you press #90 or #09 they can access your "SIM" card and make calls at your expense. Forward this message to as many colleagues, relatives and friends as you can, to stop it.

Many thanks for your time regarding this matter, take care and regards.

Phil Corris

Police Constable/Crime Prevention Officer

Sunday, 17 December 2006

That will be 60 pence please.

and you can't say it wasn't you as we have you on film.




This is again in Fleet Walk and is just one of those little incidents that, on the whole, we tend not to notice. Not unless the idiot falls of and gets run over by the next bus.

It's nice what you can find on youtube.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Trial Run with Video


This is a shot of a 12 driving down Fleet Walk. Not very exciting, no sound and doesn't last very long. It is my first try using youTube to get video on this site.

The Wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery

A post or two back I wrote about a BBC program called coast which mentioned in passing the SS Richard Montgomery. This ship contains enough explosives to make a big bang. Not as big as the original Big Bang true, but still pretty damn big. In case you missed the item here is a link to the section of the program that dealt with this war time time bomb.

Click Here

It lasts about 4 minutes and my thanks to a reader for sending the link.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Under Nines and the Belgrave Hotel

The Belgrave Hotel Torquay

The Belgrave Hotel, on Torquay's sea front is not only a 3 Star hotel, they also sponsor the Torquay Rugby Club under 9 team. I go and watch them when I can but was away on holiday and missed a great display by Torquay who ran out winners by 45 points to nil against Salcombe away from home. Nor are they just sponsoring the lads but the are providing them with a Christmas Diner tomorrow and they have also arranged for a couple of taxis to take the lads back to the club's ground where they will be ball boys in the first teams match against Penrynh.

A big thank you to The Belgrave Hotel for taking the time and trouble for the team.

And to Stagecoach Devon, their other sponsors.


.

Not Bus Driving


I am still on holiday so not much about buses. I did watch a program last night on BBC TV called Coast. If you missed it or can't get BBC then shame. Last night's program covered the Thames Estuary and two items caught my eye, the first was the fact that during the 2nd World War bombers from a now friendly nation used to fly up the Thames on their way to London in an attempt to kill everyone there by dropping bombs on them. We, the Brits, fired a lot of anti aircraft shells at them in an attempt to stop them. Lots of the bombs and shells did not work and are still turning up in fishing nets and being dredged up and passing scuba divers are finding them in such numbers that the Royal Navy employ a team who dispose of this unwanted explosive material. It varies in size from a shells of a few kilograms to 250kg and 500 kg bombs. This happens every week and the navy wrap them up in gaffer tape, add some plastic explosive, light the fuse, drop the lot over the side and move away at a speed similar to the last 12 at night running dead back to the depot all the time shouting "Fire in the hole", to passing yachts and scuba divers. My concern here is, What do they shout at all the marine life that is quietly doing what marine life does until a ruddy great bang disturbs them, probably permanently.
Now I know that WW2 bombs turn up from time to time and this ecologically unfriendly method is the easiest way of getting shut of it all so I just watched with fascinated interest. The second item didn't so much catch my eye as had me running for an atlas to reassure myself that the Thames Estuary was in deed a long long way away. It is, by the way, just in case you are unfamiliar with the geography of this fair land.
This item concerned an American ship, the SS Richard Montgomery, that sank in the estuary with at least 1500 tonnes of big bang material still in it's hold. And both the wreck and the dangerous stuff are still there, 60 years later. Presumably just waiting to fulfil it's propose for existing. I.E. To go BANG in a very big way. If it does all go bang at the same time it will be the largest man made non nuclear explosion ever. Debris will be thrown 3 km (almost 2 miles) into the air and a tidal wave will head for just about every where in the estuary including London and the Houses of Parliament. Hopefully Tony will be there and he will be heard screaming, "I told you he had weapons of mass distruction." as he is carried away by the water never to be heard from again.
Click here if you don't believe me or want more details. The photo is of the SS Richard Montgomery so you can see she is not hiden away in deep water.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Herald Express

Our local news paper here in Torbay is the Herald Express and now and then I have a look through it's on line site for items relating to Stagecoach. There were two I noticed recently, one regarding buses with engines left running while waiting time at the terminus. I used to live near a bus terminus and I understand the problems a running bus engine can cause. It took several phone calls to the bus company concerned before a notice went up by the bus stop stating that engines must be switched off at the terminus. I reasons I have heard given for not switching the engine off are three.
One, "I'm going in a minute."
Two, "If I switch it off it might not start."
Three, "It's bloody cold and if I switch the engine off the heater stops."
The company do have notices in the sign on room telling drivers that engines must be switched off if waiting more than two minutes at a stop but some just can't be bothered turning the switch to the off position. I always switch off if I am staying more than a minute and in 9 1/2 years only twice has an engine refused to start. OK, I know it does get cold but but it's only for a few minutes against the noise of an engine going, and it does sound much quieter inside the bus than inside nearby houses. Any way persuasive words were spoken and the engine noise has gone down in the nuisance league only to be replaced by dog mess on the pavements. At least you can't hear dog mess, not unless it is very warm, in which case a gentle 'hum' may be audible if you put your ear real close.

The second story was about a group of disabled students at South Devon College. They had a trip out planed but the cost of hiring vehicles to take then to Newquay Zoo was far too much. The Mayor had a word with Stagecoach and a bus and driver were provided and a great day out was had by all.

Which proves we can get things right when we try.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

My Blogg. Pornographic?


So there I was, down at the Library and there was a computer spare so I checked my email. Then I decided to have a look at my blogg.
And you can see what I got. In case the writing is a bit too small to read, it says "This site was blocked by restiction list: SWGfL. Pornography Filter List."
Well hello SWGfL Filtering, I can remember last summer making a brief referance to naked dancing girls, actually I said there weren't any, and ....................errm. Well that's about as porno as it gets. So, a casual comment and my blogg is branded porn and baned to every user of Torquay Library computers. Thanks

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Wrong Bus Company

In a couple of recent posts I have mentioned that passengers now and then get the wrong bus or a bus going in the wrong direction. While in Manchester recently I manage to not only get on the wrong bus but also to get on the wrong bus company.


This as you can see is a First Day ticket which I bought. It cost £3.30 and is valid on First buses only. For £4.00 I could have bought a day ticket valid on most buses that run around Manchester. But I have a Stagecoach Pass so I only needed this ticket. After a day in Manchester I ended up in Peter's Square out side the Library. I needed to get to Piccadilly which is but a short walk up Moseley Street. There was a bus coming so I decided to catch it and save the legs. A glance showed it wasn't Stagecoach so out came the day ticket. The driver looked at it and proclaimed it to be a First Bus ticket in more or less the same tone of voice as I would use if I had just stood in some thing a dog had left on the pavement. "So", said I. "This is an Arriva bus." the driver replied. In pretty much the same tone of voice he had used to condemn my ticket.

I mumbled some thing about not being used to travelling on buses and left. 20 seconds later a Stagecoach bus arrived and carried me carmly,safely and efficiently to Piccadilly. For free.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Alian Space Craft Crashes Nose First On Manchester

Manchester is not noted for it's tall buildings, I can remember the CIS building going up near Victoria Station and the Picadily Hotel but this Hilton Hotel just stands out like a thumb that has been run over by a bus.

My brother lives the other side of Heaton Park, where the Pope said mass 20 years ago ( Iwas there), and I can see the top 10 floors from his back garden. It is BIG.

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Now Here Is A Request


My friends in Llandudno who I stayed with for a few days have this picture on their wall. I asked who it was by and what it was called but they didn't know.
If you know, could you let me know. Thanks.

An other number 12

This number 12, as you can see if not the one I drive. This one travels between Llandudno and Rhyl which in the summer must make it a similar sort of service to our bus of the same number. I didn't get chance to go for a ride on the bus as it was too cold and wet and windy. Llandudno may be a sea side town like Torquay but it's northern latitudes make it a colder place.

Monday, 4 December 2006

On Holiday in Llandudno

Two weeks without driving a bus. How will I stand it. Quiet easily I expect. One disappiontment was when we got to Birmingham there is an hour break but the pub I usually go in had been burnt down and the one I went in didn't do food. Any way after an 11 hour trip on the coach I arrived here to discover that the wind was traveling at 50 mph and like any good boy racer, ignoring everything in it's path. On the way back to town I had to rest in a bus shelter (thankfully still standing) (OK. OK. I don't go round the country, or even an other country knocking down all the bus shelters). No photos yet as I am in the local Library posting this as my friend's computer is not working. If I had known that before I came I might have headed straight for my brothers in Manchester. How do people manage without a computer?

Thursday, 30 November 2006

Traffic Calming?

Two bus stops have recently been moved on the Newton Road near to the depot. These stops are used as timing points and for driver change others and are causing problems for passing motorist. Newton bound traffic has to move on to the chevrons in the centre of the road to pass the bus. These chevrons are there to keep fast moving traffic apart. Torquay bound traffic has to pass the bus and quickly move back into the left lane for the traffic lights ahead. Both sets of traffic have to do this knowing that at any moment the bus may put on a right turn signal and attempt to move away. I have expessed my disquiet at the positioning of these stops opposite each other an a busy main road. Frankly I feel they are unsafe on this fast stretch of road. It almost appears that here buses are being used in an attempt to slow traffic down. I have an other reason for disliking the position of these bus stops and it is nothing to do with road safety but with our image. It only takes one badly or aggressively driven bus for every car driver to believe that all buses are driven by homicidal maniacs who's only aim in life is to write off so many Chelsea tractors that there wont be enough space on the side of their bus for all those little pictures of 4 wheel drive cars being removed from the side of the road by a tow truck. (In the same way the one badly and aggressively driven car can convince all bus drivers that all cars are driven by failed boy racers who took their driving test 27 times before giving it up as a bad job.) Now we have a situation where buses are making it harder for the passing motorist and who is getting the blame? We are; not who ever decided to put the stops where they are. I know it is not a deliberate plot to make the motorists more aggressive to bus drives. Well it can't be can it? If it is, or even if it isn't; it's succeeding.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

I Can Park Any Where.


This is Midvale Road in Paignton. It is on the 12A route between Paignton Zoo and the Bus Station. At 15:10 today I got stuck with 60 children from Paignton Community College on board. So parents, if your child arrived home late this afternoon here is the reason why.

Not only I was stuck, a whole road full of cars behind me were also stuck. The Ford Focus on the right is parked on double yellow lines which in this country means no parking at any time. Unless of course you have Blue Badge.(1)

After about 20 minutes the white car and the dark car on the right moved away and with the help of a couple of passers by, and there were plenty, I managed to get through.

Foot Note (1) Blue Badges are given to disabled people who may not be able to walk very far and may not be able to use near by car parks. In the conditions that apply to Blue Badges car owners are asked to park their cars with some consideration for other road users. One of the problems with parking in a car park for badge holders is not only the distance they may have to walk to get to and from the car park but the fact that they also have to pay. Or they can park on the road for free.

What would you do? Get elected as a local councilor, persuade over half the other councilors to pass a law allowing Blue Badge holders to use car parks for free or write about the problem in your blog?

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

An Other Person Almost Going The Wrong Way

This one boarded the bus first by simply elbowing her way on the bus in front every one in the waiting queue and demanded a ticket to The Templestowe Hotel. As we were on the Harbour side the bus wasn't going to The Templestowe and I told her. She insisted that she had got a number 12 into town from the hotel and had got off that bus on the Harbour so why wasn't this number 12 going to the Templestowe. I told her it was going to Paignton and if she walked 60 yards up the road, crossed at the pedestrian crossing and turned left and walked an other 50 yards she would arrive at the correct stop to catch a number 12 to her hotel. She was going to get a little wet as we were in the middle of a heavy shower, which was probably why she had jumped the queue in the first place, though maybe not. Before I could add that it she could also catch a 32 from the stop we were at she informed me the the bus service was stupid and turned and pushed here way off the bus into the pouring rain.

Before anyone makes the obvious comment about young people today having no manners I should point out that this lady was well into her sixties.

Going the Wrong Way


Yesterday I was heading towards Torquay at about 4 pm when a voice on the radio asked for the next twelve at Cadewell Lane going on to Torquay. I was a 12A but no one else responded so I volunteered the information that I would be at Cadewell lane in 2 mins but that I was a 12A. The other driver explained that he had a passenger who wanted Waterside but had got on the bus going in the wrong direction. The 12A does not go to Waterside. The other driver then said that the passenger was a young girl and this was her first time on a bus and she was very upset. At the stop at Cadewell Lane about 4 or 5 people got on the bus leaving the girl on her own. It was getting dark and I knew the next 12 would be an other 8 mins yet so I spoke to her and suggested that she come to Paignton with me and wait there for the 12. When I got to Paignton Bus Station I called for back up in the shape of the Lawrence, the Station Controller. He came out and the young girl was now concerned because her journey had taken longer than expected and wanted to phone home. So Lawrence took her in the office so she could use the phone and then waited on the platform with her till the right bus arrived. I hope this upsetting first trip on a bus on her own does not put her off buses for life.

It seems such a simple instruction, catch the number twelve and get off at Waterside. Pity the instruction didn't include, "Make sure it's going towards Brixham."

The picture is nothing to do with the story but I included it just to show one of the many reasons outside our control we are now and then late. It's always happening.

PS. Remember the coach parked on the bus stop and the passengers standing where the bus drivers couldn't see them. The Council are going to put a notice up saying, "Local Buses Only". Good for them.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Christmas Lights in Fleet Street

This is Fleet Street in Torquay, buses are allowed to use Fleet St but not much else. We can use it because there really isn't any other suitable way round town for the buses. Yesterday afternoon the Christmas Lights were switched on. What do you mean, you can't see them? They are there, plain as the nose on and ant's face. Actually if you look carefully at the buildings on the left above the veranda there are a line of blue Christmas Trees. That's them. Great aren't they. When they first went up in 2002 people liked them so much they demanded their return. Blackpool has nothing to fear. If I find any better lights around town over the next month I will get a photo and show you them.

Fleet Street was closed while the lights were switched on and the buses had to divert. All the bus stops had noticed explaining this but there were still one or two lost souls wandering round wondering where their bus was. It all got sorted in the end.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

South Devon College Bus Shelter

The picture is of a bus shelter after I clipped it with a bus. I didn't mean to clip it but I did. What I was trying to do was get as close to the curb without going too far forward. There are three bus stops close together to serve South Devon College. The first stop goes to Paignton and Torquay and there was a bus there waiting time when I got there and I needed the second stop, for Brixham. A little way in front of this stop was a parked car and I wanted to get in but leave space for passing cars to be able to pull in in front of me so as to avoid cars coming in the opposite direction. The problem with Long Road is that it isn't wide enough. When there are buses on the stops there isn't room for cars to pass in both directions. So My motive was for the best but my execution was for the worst. The other problem was there was a student with a cam corder filming me as I drove the bus down Long Rd and round the rounderbout and back up to the bus stop. Not sure why.(1)

On the accident report form I had to leave out the bit about 15 students standing behind the shelter who pushed it out into the road as I approached and I had to leave out the bit about the most unusual earthquake the shook Paignton on Friday lunch, even the bit about the UFO that suddenly appeared in front of me just as I moved in towards the curb. The black cat that always seems to run across the road at the right moment was a definite No No. Even the bit about the road being too narrow sounds a bit lame as buses have pulled in at that stop about 14 000 times since we started running the 12A service last year. About a quarter of them will have had to do what I did, that go past an other bus and pull in, and I was the first not to make it in safely. Still no one was hurt except for a small dent in the bus, a slightly damaged shelter(2) and my seriously damaged pride.

Footnote
(1) If you were that student , why were you filming a bus in Long Rd? Is it part of a project or did you hope I would hit the bus shelter?
(2) Slightly more than 'slightly damaged' if truth were known. A driver who came along later reported that it had been completely trashed but that was a slight exaggeration as well. It's still standing isn't it.

Friday, 24 November 2006

Uniforms and BA


Once upon a time I used to wear this hat when traveling to and from work,but only when it was cold or wet. I never wore it in the bus as the buses I drive have good heaters. Then the company provided us with company hats as part of the uniform issue. So our nice depot manager called me in one day and gently explained that my much loved Victoria Bitter hat was now not permitted. What should I have done. Write to the Sydney Morning Herald and tell them of this blatant anti Australia campain the company was waging and demand the a hundred MPs should sign a motion that this action by my depot manager was infringing my rights to proclaim my love for a certain Australian amber liquid. Should I have suggested to my passengers that they should support this campain by taking a taxi instead of the bus.

Well I am sorry to disappoint, the hat now hangs forlornly on it peg behind the door and I wear the company issue hat when it's cold and wet. Which is where a certain item of jewelry should be when a certain member of Brit Air staff is at work and the rest of the world should never have heard about it.

Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Coaches on Bus Stops (Again)


Here I am again. Having a go at coaches on bus stops. There are two coaches on this bus stop unloading passengers. Note; because the have dropped them of here they have to come back later in the day and pick the passengers up on the same bus stop. Please note that the passengers getting off the number 12 have a big step down to the road and the back of the bus is on a corner with boy racers staging their very own Torbay Grand Prick round the bay race not expecting to find an 11.5 tonne bus in the way.

PS The coach company seem to think they can park on bus stops. Sorry mate, you've got that wrong.

What to do in this situation.


The coach you can see is parked on a bus stop in Paignton. It isn't loading or unloading passengers, the driver has left it there and gone home for a lie down. Coach driving can be stressful too. His parks this coach here regularly so if you wish to catch a bus from this stop it can cause problems as the stop it's self is hidden from the approaching bus drivers view. Please don't just stand at the stop and hope that the oncoming bus is driven by a driver with mystic powers that allow him to perceive that you are there. Nor should you expect the driver will guess you are there and stop to pick you up. There is even less chance that he/she will just simply stop on the off chance that you are there; 15 buses an hour drive along this road in the direction of beautiful Paignton they can't all stop and have a look, there would soon be a tail back half way to Torquay (just as beautiful as Paignton I should add).

So what are your options. 1) Take a taxi. Too expensive especially as you probably have a free bus pass. 2) Walk to the next stop. Good for the heart, all that exercise but if you want to walk for pleasure do it along the sea front, not on the busiest main road in the Bay. 3) Walk to the back of the bus and stand where you can be seen by the oncoming bus driver and when he/she is 50 yards away 'stick it out'. Your hand that is.

Me. I go for plan 3



I offer this rocket science advice because a couple of days ago some one stood behind this coach for half an hour wondering why the buses were driving straight past before phoning the company and asking why the buses weren't stopping.

If you find yourself in a different place but all other circumstances are the same then please feel free to use the instructions given above.

Monday, 20 November 2006

Confusion in Paignton

I had my meal break in Paignton Bus Station to day and as I was waiting for my next bus to arrive I could see that there were about 20 people waiting for both the 12 and the 12A. Bout these buses go to Brixham but the take different routes and the 12 takes 20 mins to get to Brixham while the 12A takes 40mins. So you want to get the right bus. Now the two bus stops are next to each other and are labeled L for the 12A and M for the 12. When we first started running the 12A I remembered which stop was which by thinking that More people went to Brixham from stand M, being the direct route, and Less people used stand L to go to Brixham.

Today as occasionally happened the driver I was taking over from forgot this little aid to memory and didn't look at the boards the company have put up with 12 and 12A printed on them on each stop so us drivers don't end up with the wrong passengers. He came in on the 12A stop and the 12A right behind him had to pull on the 12 stop. So I went in for a little passenger care and raised my voice a little and explained that the buses were in the wrong places. Then stood back and watched the to queues swop places. Like watching galaxies collide. I still asked everyone who got on with a pass if they wanted the 12. All but one made it to the right bus.

Some days are duller than others. Still here is a nice picture I took Sunday lunch time.

Fast Food Container Water Torture

In a recent post I compared the balls rolling round the roof space of some of our buses to the Chinese Water torture. Last night I suffered the Fast Food Container Water Torture. There I was hoping to get a good night's sleep so I would be bright and alert for to day's journeys to Brixham and Newton when I noticed SPLAT................SPLAT....SPLAT..............SPLAT..SPLAT.............. ..SPLAT..SPLAT SPLAT. etc, etc, etc.

It was raining, OK I know I keep saying Torquay has wonderful weather all year round but it has to rain some time. And next door's gutter is a bit clogged up and overflows slightly in heavy rain. OK it was raining heavily. Sorry Tourist Board but I do have to tell it like it is. Now as is the world over someone had dropped a fast food plastic container (it doesn't just happen in Torquay) and it had come to rest directly under next door's dripping gutter. SPLAT.

After listening to it for a short while I finally decided that the container wasn't going to go away on it's own and I would have to be it's mover. So several deep breaths I got out of bed; well it was a cold night and you never know what bogeyman might be hiding under the bed,they do that you know, hide under beds, I got dressed, without having ankle gripped by some tortured feind from under the bed and went out into the cold, lonely and wet night to move the plastic. I also noticed that it wasn't next door's gutter dripping so on my next day off I will have to get the ladders out and clear our gutter. Such fun.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Stagecoach Saved Me £21.00


In a few weeks I have a couple of weeks holiday so I am going Up North to visit family and friends for a week. So I went on the Internet to book coach tickets on National Express. Their site told me I could not book to Llanduno which is where I wanted to go first. So I checked the price if tickets to Birmingham and on to Landudno. Then back from Manchester. Total came to £52.00.. Now this seemed a bit more than I had paid last time I made the trip so I went in to the Stagecoach Devon Travel shop on Vaughan Parade, overlooking the Harbour. There the cool, calm, courteous, charming and efficient staff booked me tickets in a couple of minutes at a cost of £31.00.

Thank you Stagecoach.

What not to do with your car

This is down on the Harbour. One day last week at 11 O'Clock some drove his car round the Clock Tower, hit the central island and smashed through the bench and ended up hitting the poor palm tree you can see next to the rubbish bin. Must have been flying very low.

The Harbour is now a change over point for drivers and at 11 am there are usually a few, including me standing around here so it was a good job it was 11 pm when the BMW driver decided to go for a swim, and take his car with him. Pity the palm tree was there to stop him.

An Apple a Day

Friday, 17 November 2006

New Bus Stop

As the Number 12 comes out of Torquay towards Newton there was a bus stop about 20 yards past Shiphay Lane. Then about 400 yards up the road opposite Focus there was an other stop. The stop at Focus is where I get of the bus on the way to work in the morning. It was also a Timing Point. This is where, if you read a time table it says "Newton Road Focus" followed by the time the bus departs this stop. If you get there after this time or at this time you just drive on. If you get there before this time you wait. If you don't you are running early, a mortal sin. We call this 'Waiting Time.' There is no lay-by so the cars that come up behind you have to pull out to pass. It is also a place where we change drivers. Changing drivers takes at least 2 mins so cars also have to pull out and pass or waste two mins of their lives while drivers get them selves comfy.

Anyway, yesterday at 17:00 these two stops were decomissioned. They became Norwegian Blue Bus Stops. You can stand there till the cows come home with your arm out stretched in the approved fashion but buses will simply roll straight past. (Please note; there are notices explaining this on both these dead bus stops).(And where the nearest live bus stop is.) We're good like that. If it is any help the nearest bus stop is midway between the two old, worn out, gone to the great bus shelter in the sky, bus stops. Which is more or less opposite the bus stop on the other side of the road. Which it's self was recently moved from it's much loved spot just up the road.

This road is a fast, busy road and the though of cars, vans, trucks, other buses, coaches, ambulances and fire engines pulling out to pass a waiting bus heading in to Torquay while at the same time other cars, vans, trucks, other buses, coaches, ambulances (there is a hospital up the road), and fire engines (there is a fire station up the road as well) pull out to pass a bus waiting time on the Newton bound side of the road does not fill me with glee. To put it mildly.

Good luck to all who drive along the Newton Road.

Thursday, 16 November 2006

Road Works Part 276

To day I took over a bus at 10:11 in Torquay heading for Newton. As I was making myself comfortable I heard an other driver on the radio report delays on the road into Newton due to road works. Just what I needed to hear. By the time I got to Penn Inn and past the problem I was 10 mins late, not too bad, it's quiet soon make that up. Then as I got nearer the bus station I realized there were more road works and these were much worse. Now in London when road works were planned the council put notices up a week before saying, "Road Works, Find an other route." They also switched off pedestrian traffic lights and had council officials standing around to make sure the contractors managed the traffic problems properly. Not here. The temp traffic lights go up and that is it, take it or leave it. So on the way to the bus station one of our buses was going the other way, well pointing the other way is more accurate. I asked the driver, a lady called Mary how long she had been there,"Half an hour." Yea sure, have your little joke my dear. 40 mins later I got to where Mary and I had spoken, Usually it would have taken 10 mins.

So if you were waiting for a bus today, it wasn't our fault. One day maybe some one in the council office will read the manual on how to manage road works. Published in 1967 I believe.



Still it did give me chance to take a few photos of Newton Abbot which I don't usually get. Bit of a mixture off styles here.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Balls

The balls in the title of this post refer to the balls that are rolling round in the roof space of at least 3 off our double deckers. I can think of no reason for them to be there, there isn't some piece of high tech equipment in the roof space that they have escaped from. If the have escaped from such a piece of equipment then the should be replace at once. The only reason I can think of for them being there is that someone put them there when the buses were being built."Oh look. We have 50 ball bearings left over. What shall I do with them?" Or "I hate bus drivers lets drop them in the roof space. It'll be impossible to get them out without ripping the bus apart."

So far I have, as have all the other drivers, put up with the noise made every time we go round a bend or slow down or speed up. As have the passengers, they, poor dears have to listen to them as well. A new twist on the Chinese Water Torture. It does begin to get me down a little. They add to the already existing stress, not in a way that I am likely to take a bus full of passengers up to Berry Head, place a brick on the accelerater pedal and jump out. No; some little way in which my passenger care standard is likely to fall slightly, snarling instead of saying good morning, sending them on a 34 instead of the 200 open top bus, giving them £8.05 in 5 pence pieces when they give me a ten pound note for a single to Paignton. That sort of thing.

So the other day went I took over a bus to start my duty I was a little put off when the balls started rolling as I moved away. For 4 hours 10 mins I gritted my teeth and waited for the roar as the moved about in the endless intermittent dance into eternity. I say eternity, but we can expect these buses to last at least 10 years and while that is no where near eternity it will begin to seem like it. Unless the fitters take pity on me and get rid of them. If they would let me I would do it myself. For free. All it needs is each bus parked on a slope, and there are plenty of slopes in our depot, and a small hole drilled in the corner of each roof panel and out they would come. We could send them back to TransBus where they came from. Bit of plastic stuck over the hole, good as new. Better. No More Chinese Ball Torture.

To cut a long story short, after my lunch break I went out again to complete my duty. I took over the bus at Regent Close and headed for Torquay. As I braked gentle for the lights at Shiphay lane I heard the sound of 100 000 buffalostampedingg across the Great Plains in a desperate attempt to escape the clutches of Bison Bill, a sound slightly more annoying than Radio Gemini, a sound calculated to make me reachin stantaneouslyy for the radio and demand an other bus. But I remembered what my mother always used to say, "If you are upset then count to ten before you do anything." So I counted to ten; took me about a second and a half. Then I explained carefully and carmly to the controller that if I didn't get an other bus in about 15 seconds then I would drive this one up to the scrape yard in Exeter and place it gently in the crusher, press the Red Button and watch it turn into a large suit case sized ball bearing. If there were any passengers on board as this happened was their hard luck. The controller being an understanding man promised me a replacement bus ASAP. OK, it did take an hour but at least I got rid of the balls.

The other thing that gets me down about these balls is this; in a week I take over 10 buses. All of these buses have been driven by other drivers, in some cases 3 or 4 other drivers. When I speak to them about the little round things they all say, "Oh yea, they're a right pain. Why don't they do something about them?" But when I look on the defect card that is carried round all day long on each bus no one has ever written,"Please get rid of the balls."

Except me that is.

Monday, 13 November 2006

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

Torquay Under 9's scoring their try in the game against Newton Abbot on Sunday. Unfortunately it was their only try and Newton managed to score two tries. A close game but Newton were better at passing the ball out and taking advantage of set pieces than our lads. An enjoyable game but winning is even more enjoyable.

After this disappointment I got home to discover the iPod had stopped working. After a few visits to the Apple web site and several attempts to reset the iPod and try the other suggestions contained in the pages the metal monster still malfunctioned. So Monday I rang Apple and suggested that as the iPod was less than 12 months old it was still under the guarantee. A nice man on the phone directed me to an Apple web page, explaining that all I had to do was fill in a form online and Apple would collect and repair it. I wish everything could be so easy. When I got to the from I had to click in a box what exactly the problem was. There was nothing remotely like the problem in the list but I could not process the form without clicking some thing. Then there was an other box asking what problem I was having with any accessories. I'm not having any such problem but again I had to click something or make no progress. So I clicked Camera connector. Them I explained the problem. In case you might have a solution to the problem it is this; when I try to play any music instead of playing the music it just runs through the names of each tune at the rate of one tune a second and then switches off. Any way half an hour after I sent the form to Apple I got an email telling me the new part for the camera connector was on it's way so I could do a DIY repair. Is this a plot by Apple to make it impossible to get the iPod repaired so I will go out and buy a new one?

Saturday, 11 November 2006

A Couple of Long Weekends

The first story is from an other driver who picked a couple of ladies up in Preston. They both had Over Sixties bus passes and were local ladies. And they were both wheeling quiet large suit cases. The driver knew them as regular passengers and asked if they were going on holiday. They told him they were going away for a long weekend. He expected them to get of at the rail station but he went past and they were still on the bus. He turned up Belgrave Road, which is full of large hotels, and the bell went. It was the two ladies. They were having a long weekend away in a posh hotel half a mile down the road. Makes sense really, saves all that traveling and you still get waited on hand and foot and stay some where different for two or three nights.

The other long weekend story is slightly sadder and unfolded briefly on my bus. I was heading out of Torquay towards Paignton when an elderly couple got on. They were lost. They had come down for a long weekend break on a coach holiday and had arrived earlier in the day. As it was a while till dinner they had decided to go for a walk. It was a nice day, if a little cool but eventually they had grown tired and decided to return to their hotel. They had a problem. They could not remember the name of the hotel, He thought it was something Villa but she knew it wasn't. She knew there was a Tea Room close by. I asked if they knew the name of the road it was on, was it on the sea front, was it in Paignton or Torquay, how long had they been walking. The only information they were certain of was that is was, "That way." pointing towards Paignton. Well I guess even if they knew nothing else they must know which way they had walked.

This direction meant the most likely place was Paignton Sea front so I sold them tickets to Manor Corner intending to direct them down Manor Road and on to the sea front. However when I got only half way there the bell went for the Gas Works stop. When I opened the doors the couple started to get of. I tried to tell them that were no hotels in this area but he walked away looking very uncertain, she moved a few steps after him and stopped, completely uncertain. I moved the bus forward and tried to ask her if she had recognized where she was, but she turned and walked back. He was still walking in the direction of Paignton and was too far up the road to speak to, so I had to close the doors and go. I hope they found their hotel but this happens more often than you would expect. People arrive as part of a party coach and go for a walk and don't know the name of the hotel. I did once in the past ask a couple in the same situation if they had left the name and phone number of the hotel with a family member or friend, "You know. In case your house burns down." The woman almost went into hysterics demanding to know how I knew her house had burnt down. Now I say in case they win the Lottery and they want to tell you.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

Impressed Passenger.

Yesterday I went in to the Stagecoach Travel shop on the Harbour in Torquay to pick up a timetable. While I was there one of the ladies that works behind the counter remarked to her colleague that she had caught my bus to Paignton on Saturday night and had been most impressed. Well, my ego went up several notches and I smiled broadly as I asked her what had impressed her the most. Was it my smart appearance that immediately instills confidence in the passengers as they board the bus? Was it the speedy and courteous way I deal with each passenger as the entered the bus? Was it the careful way I provided them with timetable information? Was it the careful and considerate way I drove the bus,giving way at appropriate places and acknowledging other drivers kindnesses with a cheerful wave? Was it the way I waited for all my elderly and infirm or laden passenger to sit before moving off? Was it the way I carefully stopped the bus close to the curb and lowered the floor to enable passengers to safely and easily board and alight the bus? Was it the cheerful and friendly way I greeted all the passengers as the boarded the bus and the sincere and heartfelt way I wished them good night as the left the bus?

Nothing like that, I'm afraid. She had caught the bus a 5:07 and it is a 19 minute trip to Paignton and she had a bus to catch at 5:20. We had got there at 5:19 and she had caught her bus. The road had been very quiet as it was cold and everyone had gone home early, there was an other bus a few minutes in front of me and he had picked up those few who were still out and by chance I had managed to catch all the 19 lights between the Strand and Paignton on Green. That must happen about as often as the nine planets in the solar system line up in a straight line. So her getting the earlier bus was nothing to do with me really, just good luck. Still nice to have a satisfied customer now and then.

All Hallows Eve

I seem to have upset one or two, or maybe more, readers from across the pond (Atlantic Ocean)regarding Halloween being an American import. As All Hallows Eve,as it is correctly called, is a Christian feast day it is of course a European import into the States. As are all Christian religious observances, but Trick or Treat is an American import which is the only part of Halloween that is observed in this country. It seems to have come in via US films and TV shows and does not appear, as I believed, to be much practiced even in the US. As a child at this time of year Bonfire Night (Nov 5th) was the big night in which Bonfires were lit and an effigy of Guy Fawkes was thrown on the fire and fireworks were set off to celebrate the failure of Mr Fawkes and friends to blow up King and Parliament. Maybe back in the grim days just after the war we were too poor to afford Bonfire Night and Halloween.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

Routine

Routine can either mean something that is dull and boring or it can mean a way of doing things to ensure they get done. It can also mean both. I am very much a creature of routine and knock me out of that routine and I am dead. Take today. My usual routine is to arrive at work and walk into the Pay in Room, put my module in the machine to sign it on and stand and wait while it does sign on. Then put my signature on the sign on sheet to prove I have actually arrived at work. Finally pick up my running board which lists all the times and places I have to go to today. Then, having checked at what time I must leave the building, I can now indulge in the favorite pastime of most bus drivers , standing around having a chat. But today as I arrived I decided to have a cup of coffee so up to the rest room to do battle with the coffee machine. I am now dangerously out of routine. Into the pay in room with said cup of coffee gained from the wonderful coffee machine (I have to say that, it is rented by the Union and if I say anything nasty about it the Union may stop me using it) I start chatting with one of the controllers who is cleaning the cash machine. Sign module on? The though never enters my head, neither does sign myself on on the sign on sheet. Not until, that is, I get down to the bus, put my module in and this appears on the ticket machine screen,
"NOT SIGNED ON."
in BIG letters.
Do I panic? Of course I do. I also burst into tears, neither of which helps. So I turn to those who are paid tons more money than me for help. The Controllers. Now there are three ways of dealing with this situation, apart from panic and tears that is. The first is to run back up to the payin room with module and sign it on, 3 minutes back up, 15 seconds sign on 3 minutes back down. Take me about 10 minutes and I would be unable to move for an other 5 minutes but that was back when I was young and fit and Harold Wilson was leader of the Labour Party, God knows how long it would take now. Second I could wait for the next bus to arrive and nicely ask the passengers, "Due to a problem beyond my control." they wouldn't mind changing to the next bus please and then driving round the block and back to the depot and signing the bloody module on. Now I am not keen on that idea mainly because it upsets the passengers and it upsets the driver behind who has to do my work and it upsets management because they have spent a fortune printing emergency tickets so why didn't you use them type of questions would be whispered in my ear while rubber truncheons and thumb screws would be removed from desk draws and placed with menace in the pending tray. So I suggested going to Newton and back using emergency tickets and some one could sign a spare module on and hand it to me as I passed the depot on the way to Brixham. What a good idea said the controller. Off you go.
As it happened the spare driver was just about to take a bus up to Exeter so she followed me up the road and got a live module to me.Thanks spare driver And I only had to sell one emergency ticket, all the rest were free passes or megariders. Could have been a lot worse. Next time I want a cup of coffe I will sign on first, promise.

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

More on Newton Abbot Road Works

Hi, I sent an email to Teignbridge Council re the road works when I should have sent it to Devon County Council. So I sent one to Devon CC asking what was happening regarding the temporary traffic lights now the road works were long gone at the library.

I got this reply from the Environment Economy and Culture Directorate, County Hall in Exeter,which I found very helpful:-

In the final scheme there will be 3 way lights covering the stretch outside the library and the junction with Highweek Way. This work is due to start sometime in March.

So we have an Eighty yard long section of road that will be controlled by traffic lights at either end some time after March next year. Which is what we have now. The questions raised are, Why? and Why not just widen the road so traffic can drive both ways at the same time? and How long will this work take? and Can I have a look at the original plans please because I am still convinced some one made a Cock Up and is not prepared to admit it.



Monday, 6 November 2006

Long Weekend

Every 4 weeks I have a long weekend, Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. This weekend I decided out of the goodness of my heart to work on Saturday as I needed the money. During the second half of my duty I got very upset, not by a passenger, they never upset me, but by an other bus driver. I am reluctant to go into details but some times when bus drivers get verberly abused by passengers the real culprit is often driving the bus in front.

On Sunday I went to watch the rugby team play at Paignton. It's a 20 minute bus ride to Paignton, when you are driving the bus it seems like not time at all. However from a passengers point of view Paignton appears to be at the far side of the Antarctic Ice Cap. I mean you wait for the bus to turn up after consulting a time table that should come equipped with it's own magnifying glass and careful step by step, user friendly instructions. I know the art of printing timetables is to get as much information as possible on to the smallest piece of paper available but either bus companies should come up with clearer timetables or get the Department of Education to put reading and understanding timetables on the National Curriculum.
Then the bus turns up and you get on. Why doesn't the driver GO!? We are all on and desperate to get to where we are going. Doesn't he know this. Oh look, he's shut the doors, we're off at last. Oh no, he's opened them again, A little old lady's come running up. She's got a pass, wont take long. Oh dear, look a woman with a buggy and 3 children all about 2 years old and one of then doesn't want to get on and is already crying and the other two look like they are going to join in just for the fun of it. Any way we get going and in 20 mins we are in Paignton. We only stopped 9 times to let people off and on. Off is O.K. but on; what a pain. We stopped at Manor Corner, there were only 3 people there. How can it take 15 mins to get 3 people on the bus. Was the driver discussing Critique of Pure Reason by Immanual Kant page by page in the original German or selling bus tickets. The time it took my vote was on Immanual. Eventually we got to the Bus Station and low and behold only 19 mins had past. When you're driving it seems no time at all but as a passenger Einstein relatives get in on the act.


A hard tackle by Torquay who play in Black and White




In Paignton I walked round to the rugby ground which is quiet big, guess what, our team were playing on the pitch so far away from the entrance I almost called a taxi to take me there. The boys did a lot of strong defending (as seen in the photo) but did not seem to get the ball as often as their opponents. I am not completely up to date with Union rules, League was my game back in the days when I played and coached so I can not say too much about some of the decisions other than to express slight puzzlement. Still who wants to be a bad loser, so well done Paignton, winners by 20pts to 5.

Saturday, 4 November 2006

Introductory Offer and Problems

A week or two back the company decided to entice more people onto the buses. To do this they sent out vouchers that could be exchanged for Goldrider Tickets which entitle passengers to a week's travel on any Stagecoach Devon bus. They were sent to people who did not normally use the bus in the hope that they would see the advantages of travelling by bus in the future. If you are a car owner it can make sense if you live handy to the bus stops at each end and you have to pay for car parking while at work. A weeks travel with no car parking fees for £20.00. Leave the car at home and help save the planet and yourself a few quid as well.

A slight problem with any mail shot like this is that you can never be sure who will end up using the voucher. Some of the people who got their weekly ticket over a week ago are still trying to use them even though they are out of date. One trick is to hold the ticket so the thumb is over the date in the hope the driver will be too rushed to bother looking, fat chance of that. An other trick is the rip off the part of the ticket that has the date printed on it and claim that it came out of the machine like that and all the other drivers accept it, fat chance of that. A third trick is to change the date and hope the driver doesn't notice, fat chance of that. Forth trick is to wet a finger and smudge the date, that doesn't work either. Over the last few days I must have had ten Goldriders presented to me in any of the above ways. I don't think any got past me, but who can tell? The bastards who did, that's who. But I don't suppose any (if any) will tell, will they.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

Back On Line

My computer, like most, went wrong the other day. I switched it off and it refused to restart. I rang support and they said to use the recovery disc I made when the computer was brand new but I would loose all my files and all the drivers I had installed. So I asked Ian at work to have a look and though I have lost some drivers all the files are still there. Big Thank You to Ian.

Back to work. Halloween, that well know and much hated American import has come and gone. When I was young enough to remember rationing after the war (WW2) we did not have Halloween, probably because the main way Halloween is celebrated in this country seems to be a license to knock on peoples' door and mug them. While the celebrants get tired of that the next step is to go round throwing eggs at moving vehicles, buses by choice as they are bigger and therefore easier to hit. I think when I was younger we put eggs to a good use; we ate them. Anyway as you can see from the picture the result of egg throwing at bus windows. Me I would like to throw buses at the egg throwers. In case you don't know, as soon as egg drys it becomes as hard to get off as it is hard to get off nicotine. And that isn't easy I can tell you.

As the sun got brighter it became harder and harder to see through the mess until the point was reached when the bus had to be taken off the road which meant a 15 minute delay for 65 passengers. Caused by a 15 second thrill for a couple of kids. Thank you America.

Monday, 30 October 2006

Torquay Athletic Rugby Club Under Nines

Just a quick mention for Torquay Athletic Rugby Under 9s (sponsored by Stagecoach and the Belgrave Hotel). Sunday 22nd they were at home toBrixham. They won 15 to 5 with Dion Dickerson the Man of the Match. I was going to go but it was raining cats and dog and I have done my time standing on wet touch lines. This Sunday I was working and according to Coach Chris Coverdale I missed a good match against Topsham, Torquay winning by 50 pts to 45pts against a very strong team. Man of the match was Connor Donacy for good all round play and some great try's.

Keep up the good work boys.

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Goodbye Summer Time.

I had a short day to day, start at 07:25 home by 14:30, open fridge, remove can of beer, drink can of beer, remove second can of beer, close fridge, switch computer on. So now it is 3 pm and the cat is looking at me as if I am a monster. He doesn't usually so I will explain. He usually gets fed at 4 pm but the clocks went back last night so I know it is 3 pm but Cat's internal clock, also known as his stomach believes it is 4 pm and he can not understand why I don't feed him.


An other couple who didn't reset their clocks came running up to the bus struggling with big suit cases in Brixham as I was just about to leave at 09:48 heading for Paignton. "Would the bus get to Paignton before 11 O Clock?" they wanted to know, as they had a coach to catch. Being a nasty sod I told them the journey time to Paignton was 20 mins. They looked a bit dismayed by this piece of information. Then after a suitable pause I told them I would be in Paignton for 8 mins past ten so they would have plenty of time to go for a cup of coffee. Then the penny dropped. I expect they enjoyed the coffee.

Footnote; To Tony Blair. Some thing to do before you go:-

Please get rid of this stupid twice year changing of the clocks and stay on summer time all year round. I know, we could call it British Standard Time. We tried it last century but it was abandoned as the Scots didn't like it. Dark till nine in the morning they said. Well they have their own Parliament now so they can have their own time as well.

Friday, 27 October 2006

Leyland National


The Green and Cream bus shown here is a Leyland National registered in 1974. Drivers who have been in the job longer than I speak of them with a mixture of love, fear, admiration, nostalgia and lots of other emotions. Me, I have never driven one so I don't know what they are all about. This one, which was parked in our bus park one rainy day last week belongs to a gentleman called James. He is based in Exeter and has several photos of former Devon General Buses and owns one or two. Click here for a link to his site if you like old buses.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

Close Call.

I had a close call to day. I stopped at Jury's Corner bus stop on the way to Newton. After I had loaded up I put a right turn signal on to pull away and a car flashed his lights (1) so of I went. 80 yards past the lights there is a side road, Avenue Rd it's called. There was a lady in a red car waiting to turn right onto the main road. Now the Newton road is the busiest road in the South West and getting busier, Our nice Mr Tony Blair would sooner go to war than build us a by-pass so it is going to get worse before Global Warming kills of the car for good, anyway it is impossible to emerge from a side road unless some one lets you out. I do from time to time but not this time. I've just accelerated hard away from the stop, I'm not going to upset the person behind, who has just slowed to let me out, by braking hard. Well that wasn't the plan but it was what I ended up doing as this lady drove out in front of me. I mean I am driving a bus that is almost 14 feet high and over 8 feet wide and weighs 11.5 tonnes. If I had hit her she would have been able to claim it was my fault as I didn't have "DANGER OF DEATH" printed on the front of the bus in big letters. (Now there's an idea for the Health and Safety brigade). I ended up stopping 6 inches away from her after doing what used to be called an emergency stop but I call a blind panic stop.

Well I hope I scared her because she sure produced a string of obscenities from me in very quick time. All very quietly under my breath I should add.

Please note; No passengers were offended or hurt in the making of this skid mark.

Note (1) In the UK if you are letting someone out of a side road or allowing a bus to pull away from a bus stop you flash your headlights. Not many motorist know this; not the bit about letting the bus out any way.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

The Power of the Blog

On Sunday I wrote asking if anyone knew what was happening to this section of road in Newton. There have been temporary traffic lights here since January and the road works were finished several weeks ago. However the lights are still there as the road is too narrow for a bus and a car to pass each other. I did ask the Health and Safety Officer at work if he could find out. He is also the Union Rep so he should have been able to use his connections to get some information. All he did was send management a note. Well I could have done that.

Anyway I went into Sherborne Rd on Tuesday and there standing talking at the lights was a senior police office, a contractor in a yellow jacket and some one who could have been either an FBI agent or some one from the Highways department. Probably the latter, funny how council officials tend to look like FBI agents. Could be the dark suits.

To day when I went down there, even more yellow jackets standing there looking at the width of the road with puzzled looks. Some one made a cock up and we are going to suffer with yet more road works.


Now was it the blog that produced this activity, or did the union rep's note to management do the trick. Or maybe the email I sent Teignbridge Council on Tuesday morning pointing out the difficulty this stretch of road was causing had the desired effect. Who knows? Who cares so long as they fix the problem in the near future or at least some time before I retire.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Two Days so Different

Tuesday I took over my bus which had arrived on time but the bus in front had been a few minutes late. This is nice as it means the driver in front is picking up some of my passengers. If he gets too late and I catch him up I will go past and help him out. He never got so late that I could get in front of him so I had an early first half. After lunch there were two of us waiting in Paignton bus station to take over incoming buses. The other driver was taking bus working 1206 and I was after 1207 , both came in together and we managed to take the wrong buses. So when we realized we got on the radio and altered the paper work. Easier than changing buses. Well most of the afternoon was like the morning, always a bus not too far in front but too far to get past. A nice easy day.

So you all know what happened today. I started in Torquay and should have left at 10:11 but the bus didn't turn up till 10:28. The reason, a broken down vehicle at Manor Corner. And the vehicle that was broken down was large, about 14 feet high, a bit over 8 feet wide and about 32 feet long, just to make matters worse. And Manor Corner is probably the busiest junction in the Bay,just to make matters even worser. To add to my problems the bus in front of me had not been held up by this large broken down vehicle and this meant I started to pick up a lot of passengers and run even later. When I had picked up the bus and reported that I was 17 mins down one controller who I will not name said, "Not to worry, you'll soon make that up." I love an optimist.

At one point I was well over 45 mins down. On Tuesday I had carried 96 passengers and the last time I had done 3612 duty, the one I was doing today I had carried 224 passengers. To day 361. And guess what duty I have tomorrow. If I hear one word about broken down vehicles I am going home.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Just the Thing for Fleet St and Sherborne Rd

Those of you who just love to watch cars and vans driving along Fleet Street in Torquay and through Sherborne Rd in Newton Abbot should not click on the link below. The rest should and then write and tell Torbay Council and Teignbridge Council what a good idea these bollards are. Thanks to jimmy and anon for sending me the link.

Magic

NHS Riots in Torquay


OK, it wasn't a riot but you know what these newspapers are like with eye catching headlines. What it was was a hundred or so National Health Service workers having a well ordered stroll through the centre of Torquay on a damp Saturday lunch time and guess who got caught up in it.

They were protesting about the way the government are running the NHS. Hospitals are losing vital services like Doctors and Nurses and Equipment and Drugs but are being over run with admin departments and red tape, enough red tape to stretch from here to Alfa Centuri. Which is a long way believe me. The NHS is and has always been used as a political football. Getting kicked about just so one political party can score points over the other. What I can not understand is that the Government have been running the NHS since 1948. Surely they should be able to do it properly by now after 58 years.

P.S. Sorry NHS workers, a million people took to the streets to try and stop Blair the Dicktator from going to war with Iraq and he took not a blind bit of notice. I wouldn't hold your breath if I were you. You'd need a tracheostomy to get you breathing again and there is a 3 month wait.


Three on lookers giving their whole hearted enthusiastic support.

Just Because a Bus Goes By 13 Mins Late.

OK. We all make mistakes, except for the boss that is, who never makes mistakes, but that is an other story. The mistake I made was made jointly with another driver who I will call Brian. Mainly because that's his name. Anyway, we had both finished work at the same time one day last week and we were walking down Regent Close from the depot to the main road to catch a number 12 into Torquay. Brian asked me what time the next bus was due and I told him 19:14 We had 2 mins to get to the stop to get the bus. Plenty of time. But at that moment a bus went hurtling by and did not stop. 2 mins early the bastard, was what we both said. So when we got down to the main road we had 15 mins to wait for the next bus. We didn't walk the 80 yards to the bus stop at this point as it was possible that an out of service bus might come out of the depot and head into Torquay to start work. So we stood on the corner where we could flag the driver down and travel into town that way.

No out of service bus turned up but we were joined at 19:25 by an other driver who was changing over with the driver of the bus we were now waiting for, the 19:29. This bus appeared in the distance at 19:26; not due till 19:29 and we all made comments about drivers running early. We began walking slowly to the bus stop, expecting the approaching bus to pull in as the driver was getting off. We were still about 30 yards away from the stop with the bus coming up behind us when a thought occurred to me just a few seconds too late.

What if the bus we had seen go by at 19:12 hadn't been the 19:14 running early but the 18:59 running 13 mins late and the bus coming up behind us wasn't the 19:29 running 3 mins early but the 19:14 running 12 mins late. And it was. And no one had put their hand out and we were still 30 yards from the stop and it went straight by at a steady 29.9999 mph oblivious to the screams being directed in it's direction by me and Brian.

The 19:29 arrived at 19:40 running 11 mins late.

There is a moral in this story some where.

If you Know What is Happening in Newton Abbot.........

Newton Abbot. What is happening in Newton Abbot? If you know please let both me and the local council know. Asda have built a new 24 hour supermarket in Newton Abbot. To do so they changed the road lay out in the town. Before, when we drove a bus out of Sherborne Road we went up to the Library turned right at the roundabout along the main road and past the Post Office Sorting Office. This has gone, as has the original road and the roundabout. Traffic going through town now goes a completely different way. For months while the road was being changed there were tempory traffic lights in operation. Now all the re building has been finished but the tempory lights are still there. The reason they are still there is due to the fact that the new road, built over months is only about 12 feet wide and on a bend. As buses are over 8 feet wide it is not possible for a bus going out of Sherborne road to pass a car going into Sherborne Road. So every time we exit the bus station in Newton we have a delay of at least 2 mins while the lights change. In the last 7 days these lights have failed several times and, as they say, chaos has ensuded with cars having to reverse out of the way of buses.(It is easier for cars to go backwards than buses and we are both bigger and are not in a great deal of hurry to get any where). I do believe that the contractors have made a mistake and made the road too narrow or who ever drew up the plans wrote down the measurements in metres and the contractors thought they were in feet. Anyway some one has made a mess of the whole thing. I went through my photos and the first photo showing the road works was taken in January and the photo I have here now was taken last month and shows what happens when the lights fail. All the vehciles you can see are stopped and remain stopped for 2 or 3 mins.



I did ask the depot Union Rep if he knew what was going on but he hadn't a clue. He did say he would find out as soon as possible but I know he has been busy going round in very small circles for the last few months and he hasn't yet been able to report back to me.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Sherborne Rd, Newton Abbot



Two items to report, both from the Bus Station in Newton Abbot. One happened last night. The local teenagers decided to add a little excitement to their other wise dull and boring lives by climbing over the railings on the footbridge and dropping down onto the roof of the bus below. I don't expect they were trying to get a free ride some where because the only other bridge we go under is the one at the bottom of Belgrave Road in Torquay and we tend to go under it at 30 mph. If they were going to get off there they would have to time their jump just right or the word would definitely have been splatter.

The second incident gave me much more satisfaction. There are signs at both ends of the bus station which state that there is No Entry to any vehicle except buses and bikes. But as I have mentioned here before nothing is ever done about the hundreds of cars and vans that use the road as a race track every day. Until to day. I was waiting time and a white car drove through at at least 30 mph. Now we have a 10 mph speed limit as there are lots of people crossing the road, mostly passengers and we wouldn't want to wipe out any passengers, would we . Then I saw him stop. Then I saw a policeman walk up to the drivers window. By the time I drove out he had reached the paper work stage. At least a £60.00 fine and 3 points on the license. 12 points and you have to learn how to catch the bus. Keep up the good work, boys in blue.

A footnote on a post about the car for sale. If you wanted to buy it, sorry its gone. Maybe the owner read the blog and took it home to fix it. Or maybe someone reading the blog decided that is was just what he wanted. It was a bit of a shock today as I drove past Oldway and it wasn't there, a bit like losing an old friend. Still there are two more in its place.

Rained a lot today, windy too. Autumn is on its way.

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Mastermind

This post is dedicated to Simon Curtis who got the lowest ever score, one point, in the specialist subject round on Mastermind , the world famous BBC quiz show.

You are driving your bus towards a bus stop, there is one person standing there. They don't put their hand out. What do you do?
Pass.

There is a cyclist ahead off you but there is not much room. What do you do?
Pass.

You pull in at a stop and an off duty bus driver gets on. What should he show you but probably will not?
Pass.

If you are over 60 what should you have to get free travel on the bus?
Pass.

You are playing for the depot football team and you kick the ball to an other member of your team. What is the technical term for this action?
Pass.

On the X46 route from Exeter there is a small range of hills. The road takes a meandering path over the lowest part of these hills. What is the geographical name for this path.
Pass.

You get to the terminus and have 20 mins to wait before you leave so you read the paper. What are you said to be letting time do?
Pass.

You are driving your bus through Roselands, the bit going up a hill, round a bend and over two speed humps. There are parked cars on both sides of the road and a car appears. The driver flashes his lights. What should you do.
Pass.

If you are appearing on Mastermind and you don't know the answer to a question what do you say?
What in God's name am I doing here and why doesn't the ground open up and swallow me and what the **** are all my mates going to say to me tomorrow and for the next twenty years and why did I chose to answer questions on bus timetables.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Car For Sale


Like most towns and cities in the UK if you want to sell a car you print a FOR SALE notice listing the car's good points and how much you want for the pile of junk and a phone number and stick it to the windscreen. Then you park the rust bucket at the side of the road some where and go home and wait for the phone call from some idiot who would like to buy your car.

It is a good idea if you go and check the state of your car now and then, just to make sure the back bumper (fender) isn't hanging off. Probably a good idea not to park it some where where a passing vehicle can smash into your back bumper.

This car has been here a few weeks so far. Why not try an ad in the local paper. Or at least fix the bumper. And park it some where else.

Monday, 16 October 2006

Seagull


Lots of seagulls in Torquay. The local division two football team, Torquay United are known as "The Gulls". They are also known by one or two other names which I can't mention here due to the fact that they had a good start to the season but have lost the knack of winning over the last few weeks. But I am not here to talk about football but seagulls. Is you don't live in a seaside town you probably think gulls are magnificent birds. I mean, look at the picture.

If you do live in a seaside town or one that has open cast rubbish tips then you know that gulls are loud, aggressive birds that start screaming an hour before the sun comes up and rip in to plastic rubbish bags in the hope of finding food and are litter louts of the first order. Down here there are notices asking people not to feed the gulls but they get so much food they are able to breed twice a year. We are over run with gulls. Last time I hit a gull it flew into the nearside front windscreen and splattered. The only person on the bus was a sweet little old lady and being new to the bay I was very surprised when she said,"Oh good, an other of the buggers dead." That was 8 years ago and I can now understand why people don't like them, but I do. I mean, look at the picture.

Still, since early Sunday morning we have one less in the Bay. Wasn't my fault, he/she just walked out in front of the bus. I swerved madly hitting two cyclists, three parked cars before ending up in someone's front garden. O.K. O.K. I didn't. Never swerve to avoid seagulls or you could hit two cyclist, three parked cars and four partridges in a pear tree in someone's front garden.

I wasn't even sure I had hit the poor little thing until a couple of hours later when I came back from Brixham. But there it was, lying in the road, dead.

Sorry seagull.