Monday, 27 February 2006

Driver Fired Following Serious Incident.

I came across this little story while surfing the net:-

Police: Bus driver tosses complaining rider into traffic

Thursday, February 9, 2006
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (AP)

A transit bus driver grabbed a woman by the hair, knocked her head into a pole, opened the door and tossed her into traffic after she yelled at him for missing her stop, police said.
The 52-year-old woman, who was not identified, suffered a broken shoulder.
Bus driver Mario Edney, 53, was arraigned Thursday on aggravated assault and other charges, said Officer Jillian Russell, a police spokeswoman. He was being held on $2,000 bail.
Edney said he had to skip the woman's stop Wednesday morning because of a detour, police said.
Transit officials intend to fire Edney, who has been suspended without pay, following a hearing, said Richard Maloney, a spokesman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.

Now you really could expect to be fired for doing something like that.

Saturday, 25 February 2006

Now this IS interesting.

BUS LANE PLAN FOR CONGESTED ROAD (from the Herald Express)

11:00 - 23 February 2006

Bus lanes could be incorporated into one of the Westcountry's most congested roads. Highway engineers are drawing up a scheme to speed up bus times along the Torquay to Newton Abbot main road - Stagecoach's busiest route, where buses are often caught in snarl-ups, causing commuters and schoolchildren to be late. Devon County Council has come up with a £125,000 project to incorporate short stretches of bus, taxi, HGV and cycle lanes at Kingskerswell, where highway engineers will unveil the proposals to a parish council meeting on Monday.

What ever you do; Don't Hold Your Breath.

What this streach of road needs is a bye pass, not

£125 000 wasting on it. The only way a bus lane would work is if it went from Scotts Bridge all the way to

Penn Inn on both sides of the road and there just isn't enough room for that and it would cost a lot more than £125 000.

Cold, wet, miserable, slow and Half Term

This week just gone has been cold, wet, windy and miserable. It has also been half term for the local school children, poor dears. Well by Friday afternoon, after the chaos of the previous days road closures, the traffic was extremely light. So light in fact we were having to stop and wait time at every timing point we came too. The alternative would be to drive along the road at 5 mph. I don't like following buses that are crawling along the road at 5 mph and I don't expect anyone else does either. So you end up at timing point early. Dead boring for the driver and the passengers on the bus. Now you can drive on early if you want, There is no body standing there stopping you. Problem with this is one of the few people in the Bay who actually can read and understand our timetables (1) will turn up just after the bus has driven off and get on the phone to complain. Given the fact that the bus company view running early as not a nice thing to do and that the company keep notes about drivers who do not nice things and if you do too many not nice things they have been know in the recent past to suggest in very strong terms that you find an other job.

Anyway, I digress. At one timing point on Cary Parade in Torquay some one got so bored waiting that they decided to take it out on one of the bus seats. With a knife. A few stops later when he got off the bus an other passenger came running up to me, very excited, and told me what had happened. I am not sure what they expected me to do. Perhaps to jump off the bus and chase the slasher, wrestle him to the ground and hold him in an arm lock while shouting, " I am making a Citizens Arrest." and waiting for the police to arrive. This guy was not an unloved teenager but in his mid thirties of unkempt appearance and 6 foot 2 ins and sporting several tattoos(4) and carrying a knife(5). I used the radio to inform control.

Note (1) If you do wish to join this happy band of people who can read and understand our timetables, please phone South Devon College and ask them if they run a Timetable Reading and Understanding Course. If enough people do phone then may they will run such a course. They could do with the students. If they don't then you could phone our head office and ask some one there how to explain how the timetables work and what you have to do to qualify for the free magnifying glass(2)

Note (2)Have you seen one of our timetables (3).

Note (3) Our Managing director once described timetables as getting the most information possible on the smallest piece of paper possible.
Most of the information on a timetable is of absolutely no interest to you. If you are in Torquay you really don't need to know what time the bus left Brixham at, or Broadsands or Paignton Bus Station or Preston Shelter. All you need is when the next bus is due ( allegedly) at this stop.

Note (4) I am not suggesting for a moment that tattoos = seat slasher.

Note (5) I am suggest that someone carrying a knife = dangerous and should be avoided. And/or spend some time as a guest of Queen Liz 2. Though not actually in Buck House, somewhere up on Dartmoor would be just as nice.

Thursday, 23 February 2006


Punishing people for crimes, especially murder doesn't bring back the dead. It rarely stops any one else from committing the crime other wise no one would go out one day and kill 9ooo people. In that sense it is an act of revenge. Well when we punish that bastard Mladic it is an act of revenge I wish wasn't needed but will take a small amount of satisfaction from.

Crash on the Newton Road.

Let me start we an apology. If you were waiting for a 12/12A or X46 to day between midday and about 6:00pm and you had a long wait I am very sorry. It wasn't our fault but I am sorry if you were inconvenienced, Especially as it was such a cold and miserable day.

What happened was some one was driving down Coffinswell Lane towards the Newton Road just North of Kingskerswell with the intention of either turning left and going to Torquay or turning right and going to Newton. As they reached the junction with the Newton Road they suffered a heart attack and carried straight on over the main road and ended up in the hedge on the other side of the road. I went past only a few minutes after this had happened and the police and ambulance had arrived. The accident turned out to be fatal the police had to close the road while photos and measurements where taken. I went through and continued to Paignton on time but all the buses behind me were held up for well over an hour. Even after the road was opened it took several hours for the backlog of traffic to clear. Buses were running over an hour late and drivers were running out of driving hours and in the wroung place for their breaks. One of the problems with the Newton Road is that there is no other way into Torquay from the North so if the road is closed chaos ensures. An other problem we had to day was the fact the the Rail line between Newton and Torquay and Paignton is being repaired and rail passengers are having to travel by bus between these points. Double chaos on such a miserable day for all concerned.

Aren't the RMT wonderful?

All the work thousands of people in London did to bring the Olympics to their fair city and now the RMT union have started the longest blackmail scam in History. Fitting they should do it on the day Britain suffered its biggest ever robbery in History. In case you haven't heard they have promised that the tube workers wont go on strike during the Olympics. Isn't that nice of them. Oh sorry, missed out the bit about the extra payments for having to miss the Olympics. They wont go on strike if they get extra pay.
I don't think Tony the dictator had this in mind when he introduced his bill about incitement to hate but I thing the RMT should be indicted under this bill because they have certainly incited me to HATE them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Passes and Conductors

Lots of people get on a buses and show the driver a pass. Bus passes were invented shortly after conductors hit the road. Back in the good old days, you got on a bus and went and sat down and waited for the conductor to turn up and ask you for your fare. Then some bright spark decided that it would be more economical if the driver asked for your fare when you got on. Saves money paying the conductor. The big problem with this idea is that it now takes 60% longer to travel the same distance so it costs only slightly less per journey than it used to as it takes longer so you have to pay the driver more because the same journey takes longer but the driver is still being paid an hourly rate. The second problem is the bus spend more time at each bus stop blocking the road while he is collecting the fares. So passes were invented. You buy a weekly pass and show the driver when you get on. Saves time finding the money, paying the fare collecting your ticket and change. It didn't take long for some passengers to notice that when the driver is driving and collection fares he wasn't really noticing that they weren't getting of when they should. Or even that the pass was valid. So if you travel you could, if you were that way inclined get away with murder; or at least with not paying the correct fare. Or even any fare. Passe should make things got quicker but now I am spending so much time checking them because so many of them are invalid.

To day someone got on with a pass that was over a month out of date. He was most upset when I noticed and took the pass off him and made him pay. But this was just one pass. When you are busy driving and trying to collect fares and notice who is over riding plus all the other things that go on in and around the bus you just don't have the time you need to check every thing that needs watching. That is what Inspectors are for. To get on buses and look at tickets and passes to check they are valid. Shame it doesn't seem to happen very often.

12A on a Sunday

Last Sunday my duty included 4 hours on the 12A route. Monday to Saturday this bus runs every 15 mins during the day and every hour after 6pm. On a Sunday it only runs every hour and only between Brixham and Castle Circus in Torquay. The bit between Paignton and Torquay is redundant as the 12 also covers this section with a bus every 12 mins.

Now a bus that only runs every hour is not popular. It means that when you get to Paignton you have to spend an hour there, or two hours, or three hours. No half measures. Any way a couple of days ago I was talking to Mr Hilditch the Managing Director and I told him that the 12A between Paignton and Torquay was a waste of resources and it would be better if the bus only went between Brixham and Paignton and could run every half hour. He agreed and asked me to send a memo to this effect to head office for some one there to look at the idea. There is a little problem in that the journey time between Brixham and Paignton is at present 35 mins which doesn't give enough time to get there and back in an hour. This is problem as it would require an extra bus running all day, and this would need two extra drivers to run it. This is not economical considering the number of passengers we are carrying. Any way I will send in the memo and see what turns up.

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

BBC Climate Change

In case you haven't noticed the BBC are running a massive experiment on Climate Change. Part of the experiment involves using everybody's computer. Click here for details.

When you sign up the Beeb download a program that runs in the background while you have your computer on and will collect all the data at some point in the future. I don't know if it will stop global warming, I think that people are too attacted to their cars for that to happen.

Anyway I now have a Screen Saver that is running through world climate changes from 1920 right up to 2080 in half hour jumps. So far it has got to May 1921. More interesting than the countdown to the Doctor Who Christmas Special that was there before.

Monday, 20 February 2006

Rail Contract

RailTrack are fixing the track between Newton Abbot and Paignton all this week. So if you were thinking of traveling by train between these two points, think again. You will be travelling by Stagecoach. We have got the contract to provide rail replacement buses. Should be fun.

Sunday, 19 February 2006

Quiet Time at Work and I have Flu

Not much happened last week at work and I have had flu (not bird type, I hope) for the last 5 days and may just be on the mend. Which is why I havn't written much. Sorry. More to morrow.

PS Abbey Road is still two way traffic.

Thursday, 16 February 2006

Accident Black Spot

Can you still say black spot, I'm not sure. Never mind, "Lots of Accidents Here Spot" doesn't have quiet the same ring to it. Prehaps you can't say spot in case you upset some spotty teenager. Can't really say accidents either, most crashes are the result of someone doing something really stupid. Like the other day at the junction with Woodend Road and Newton Road. We stand down near the junction when we are changing drivers on the buses and over the years I have seen the results of lots of people doing something really stupid at this junction.

The Newton Road is a 4 lane road, the main road (also the only road) out of Torquay to Exeter. Woodend Rd comes out from an industrial estate (small) and what always happens is some idiot is waiting to turn right out of Woodend Road on to the main road. A large vehicle comes down from their right to turn into Woodend Road blocking the left lane and the view of on coming traffic in the right lane. The traffic in the right lane has been stuck behind the HGV and can now get past so right foot goes to the floor just as idiot comes out of Woodend Rd without a care in the world, that is until the car in right lane smashes its front bumper into emerging drivers side door. Result bent cars.

Time the Council put up the ' Lots of Accidents Spot Ahead' signs.

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Odd Little Day Yesterday

It's mostly quiet at this time of year, not many people around a holiday town in February but there was a little excitement here and there.
First I was driving through the Grand Canyon, 40 mph there, toward the YMCA stop. Now the road is narrow there, just room for two buses to pass if both drivers have strong nerves. As I got near to where the Council are putting in a new pedestrian crossing I noticed that there was a coach coming towards me and that we would pass just at the crossing. So I checked the left mirror and moved to about 3 inches from the curb. Then I noticed that an elderly cyclist was pushing his bike to the edge of the road and had stopped with his toes on the curb and his front wheel sticking 6 inches into the road way. To late now to stop and no room to move out. I blew the horn and franticly waved the man back, pointing desperately at his front wheel. He slowly looked down with a bemused look on his face. His head was now sticking in my path. At the last moment, no film stunt man could have timed it better, he got the message and moved back about 4 inches. As I went past I was looking in the mirror. I could not have got closer to his front wheel if we had rehearsed it for a week.

Next I was in the canteen at Paignton bus station when one of the other drivers came in and said, "Hay you lot, you're missing the all the fun."
There were 3 police cars blocking the entrance to the bus station and an other car. The driver of the car was on the ground handcuffed and an other man was being pushed up against the wall. Two more police cars arrived and then the meat wagon. This lot were followed by a fire engine though I don't thing this was anything to do with the incident. Now the entrance to the bus station was well and truly blocked and as a bus enters the station every 3 mins this was causing problems. Rodger, the duty controller had to go and cough discretely in the ear of a policeman who was so high on adrenaline he hadn't noticed the chaos he was causing. The guy who had been pushed against the wall eventually wondered off but the driver was taken away in the meat wagon. I wonder what was going on.

Then the end of meal break and back to work. Now if you catch a number 12 or 12A in Paignton bus station you have a 40% chance that when the bus pulls in the driver will get out and a new driver will take over. It has to happen at some time during the day or we would all be driving over our hours. When I take over I usually tell the people waiting that we are changing drivers and they stand around until we are ready, usually about 2 mins depending on how long it takes the driver in the seat to get out. To day a couple boarded the bus and tried to insist that I deal with them at once. This just isn't possible, until I have told the ticket machine who I am, the fleet number of the bus, my duty number, the route number, where we are and what time it is we can't go any where. Also I like to be comfortable so the seat has to be adjusted.
Sorry said I, you will have to wait until I am ready. They both started shouting at me, well screaming would be closer to the mark. I tried to explain but each time they demanded an explanation as to why I was so rude to be keeping them waiting they interrupted me and continued screaming at me, at each other, at all the other passengers and everyone within 200 yards. In the end I ignored them and continued programming the ticket machine. They did not like this and stormed of the bus saying that I was the rudest bus driver they had ever come across. If that's true then they must have lived very sheltered lives. They were going to catch the next bus. I would have loved to have been there when the next bus turned up and they found out that bus had a change of driver too.

A mile down the road I slowed down to let a van out of a side road. As he came out two cars the first driven by Mustgetinfrontofthebus and the second by his brother IfheisgettinginfrontofthebusthensoamI. I can guess what the van driver said to them but this is a family show.

Geese in a Garden

As we drive round the 12A route there is a garden with these geese standing there. They move about and the day I took this photo it must have been Mother Goose's birthday and the little goslings must think the world of mum as they had got her a birthday card.

Isn't that nice.

A couple of days later she was giving the litlle ones piano lessons. Unfortunatly my camera is on holiday in Malta and so I wasn't able to take a photo.

Monday, 13 February 2006

Sad News From Paignton Zoo

There was a fire at Paignton Zoo last night. Two giraffes, a mother and her 6 day old calf died.

Paignton Zoo is a major attraction in the Torbay area and the loss of these two wonderful animals has saddened everyone.

Policy Document

At work on Saturday our pay slips arrived. This is unusual. Normally they don't arrive until Tuesday or Wednesday (payday is Thursday). What else was unusual was the fact that there was a company policy document stapled to each pay slip. There were 7 sheets of A4 in this policy document which you can read by clicking here.
There are 28 000 people working for the company and if each person got a copy and all the sheets were laid end to end they would stretch half way round the asteroid Vesta. Or to put it and other way from Brixham to Newton Abbot and back. Useful if I needed something to read at timing points and in the traffic hold ups we sometimes experience on the 12 route.

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Breath Test

I went into work the other day and the controller took one look at me and said, "Breath Test for you, mate."
In no time at all I was in the managers office with a witness and the controller and blowing into a little white box that counted the air molecules and the alcohol molecules and did a little division sum to see exactly how much breath there was in my alcohol. As it turned out there wasn't any, alcohol in my breath that is.
We have had random breath tests at work for about 6 years now just to make sure we arn't putting Tennent's Extra Strong on our cornflakes, and I, like everyone, drivers, fitters, cleaners, office staff and right down to the Managing Director gets their name pulled out of the hat from time to time. Well actually its the Pay Roll computer in Stockport that does it. So far I have been tested about 10 times now and the result is always the same; Zero. Three is the point at which the brown guey stuff hits the fan and so far I am not aware of anyone reaching this figure. Not to say no one has, I just haven't heard of any one hitting the jackpot.

The first time I was breath tested was lots of years ago, I was driving home from Yorkshire to Manchester where I lived in those dim far off days. I was driving over the Motorway that goes over the Ship Canal, it was called the M62 then but I think it has been renamed now. The car was a Ford Capri, no two body panels were the same colour and it was 2 am on a New Year's morning. The police stopped me just over the brow of the bridge, 250 feet up with a wind coming in with Siberia written in in large very cold letters. Now I had been in the pub but had been on coke, no not that kind,the kind you drink. Some one kept buying me pints of bitter all night and I kept saying I was driving and he kept saying, "You'll be alright. The police are all out looking for the Ripper." So at the end of the night there were 6 pints on the table. As it was New Year's Eve and it seemed a shame to waste it all I drank half a pint to wish every one all the best.

After the police checked the colour of the crystals and decided I was well under the limit they asked to see my licence which I didn't have with me. They then asked if the other person in the car knew my name and address. When I agreed that he did one of them knocked on the window. Now he had been drinking and was fast asleep. It took several knocks to wake him and when he finally opened the window it took a little while for the policeman to get him to understand that he wanted the name and adress of the driver. He finally turned to the drivers seat and looked vacantly at it and then felt about for a while and turned back to the policeman and said, "No f*****g driver." and shut the window and went back to sleep.

The policemen looked at each other and at me and one of them said, "Best if you don't let him drive."

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Winter Sun on The Beach

Sunday 5 Feb 2006. Torquay was the sunniest place in the UK and after several days of below zero temperatures there were hundreds, well dozens of people enjoying a day out on the beach.

Sunday, 5 February 2006

Timing Points and Waiting Time

The hero of this little story is a bus driver. He is a big chap, short. cropped hair, broken nose, califlower ear, several ear and nose rings and the badge of the Torquay Chapter of the hell's angels tattoed on his arm. Get the picture.
Now the other night, a quiet night he was waiting time on Cary Parade. Waiting time is dull, usually you are only there for a minute or two. No time to have a cig or read the paper so you tend to lean forward and rest your arms on the steering wheel and stare out the window at nothing.
Your mind goes blank and plays funny tricks at this point and our hero had entered this blissful state of nirvana and some one got on the bus and asked what was the quickest way to get to the hospital. Our hero turned his head slowly and looked at the questioner. "You could try calling me a bastard. That usually works."

The person relating this story to me never actualy mention whether this speedy if painful method of getting to the hospital was taken up, or did the person catch the number 12 to Cadewell Lane and walk up the hill to the hospital.

Thursday, 2 February 2006

More coming into contact.....

In the centre of Torquay around the Strand area, Tex Ritter and Roy Rogers are laying anti skid surface to the roads. In one place to day they had cones out and it was not possible to get past their cones. So I stopped and asked them to move a couple of cones while I drove past. One, the short fat cowboy with the 6 foot long red hot blow touch suggested where I should stick my bus. I replied that driving on the pavement was not an option and would he move the cones please. He just walked away and continued heating up the road surface with his very hot thermic lance. So I waited for a little while and tried to contact control and ask them to send the sheriff of Torbay down to get them to unblock the road. I tried several times but no reply, I even tried Exeter and Exmouth control and Houston Mission Control (just incase they had a spare minute and could help with my problem). Still no answer. So in the end I did what a man has to do and drove into the cones gently moving them out of the way.

The next bus driver reported that they had moved the cones for him. Maybe he was bigger than me. Or maybe they just got fed up of picking the cones up. I'm fairly sure that it wasn't because the sheriff had arrived. Any way when they went home they left their cones out just to be nasty sods.

Still more on coming into contact.......

I was telling the story of the cones to an other driver and he reminded me about the time a couple of years ago when he came into contact with a hotdog stand in Fleet Walk. This was a big mobile hot dog stand and Bob had hit it with his bus and hadn't realized and drove on. The hot dog man had got his number and when Bob came back 25 mins later, hot dog man and police were waiting for him.

During the exchange in which Bob admitted hiting the hot dog stand the hot dog man stated the his wife,who was pregnant had been in the van at the time. Bob at once said," I hope you're not trying to blame me for that as well."

There were no reports of Bob getting beaten to a pulp for that remark, but he may well have been.

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Now and then the Law isn't an ass

A policeman drove for the fun of it at 159 mph down a motorway.

Not Guilty said a District Judge at first court appearance.

Two High Court Judges have now told the District Judge that it might be a good idea if he had an other guess.

Some bus passengers are very nice.....

Not just some bus passengers but almost all are very nice. Now and then one or two get on who arn't. The mess on the right consists of half a pound of broken buiscuits and the container on the left contained the remains of a burger or some other greasy food.

So please don't treat the bus as a cafe and don't be upset if I refuse to let you on with anything that looks like fast food or fish and chips. Eat your grub where you buy it or buy it some where handy for home.

Hit and Walk

Normally in motoring terms it is Hit and Run. Usually what happens is there is an RTC (formally an RTA) and the person at fault drives away without exchanging details. This is an offence for which the penalties can be heavy. It also leaves the other party with the chore of going to a police station as soon as possible or within 24 hours and reporting the matter.

Well, I came into contact with a pedestrian the other day. Fortunately I was traveling quiet slowly and the pedestrian only came into contact with the leading edge of the bus and was not thrown forward with the danger of being run over. Indeed as far as I could tell he wasn't even knocked to the ground.

After the contact was made I stopped the bus and ran back to speak to him but he insisted that he was alright and would not wait while I called an ambulance. Nor would he provide me with name or address. He just walked away.

So on the way home I spent 35 mins in the local police station reporting the RTC. So far no one has limped in the the office complaining the the had been hit by a bus so I am hopeful that he is alright. Not an every day occurrence, thankfully.