Thursday, 30 March 2006

Kingskerswell By Pass

When I got to Sydney on Tuesday morning, my sister picked me up at the air port at 7 30 am which was very nice of her. Problem was we were now driving through the morning rush hour. Sydney, like all big cities now has a rush hour that starts about 7 in the morning and dies away about 7 in the evening with a slight easing up about midday.

In Torquay we have a morning rush hour that lasts 20 mins from about 8 30 till 10 to 9 and in the evening from 3 30 til 4 30. Except for the main road through Kingskerswell. There it is rush hour all day long. A bit like as in the photo.

The traffic just never let up for the 10 mile journey and it didn't seem to make much difference if you were going out of town or into town. It kept looking like this. Every where. It makes me happy that, much as I like Sydney, that I am not driving a bus here.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006

On Holiday

This came as a little suprise. When I booked my holiday I looked at a few flights before deciding on the one I took. Most of then went via Singapore but this one came by Bangkok. Not much differance really unless you are a smoker. In Singapore the Smoking Room is also called the Cactas Garden and is outside and has lots of nice benches for us to sit on whilest we indulged in our addiction. There are drinking fountains and nice views round the airport and all though the temperature can be 38C there is usually a cooling wind drifting by.
However in Bangkok they have a nasty view of drug addicts and we are forced into this small cabin. There is no air con, the windows don't open and the walls and ceiling were white when painted in 1995 but are now a very objectionable brown. At one point there were 30 of us in there with 3 seats to go round.
I think I will stop smoking while I am away so I don't have to go in there on the way home.
Just to give you a little clue as to where I am going for my very, very well earned holiday. If this plane isn't enough then let me tell you that this is Bangkok and I am 13 hours in to the journey and there is an other 8 1/2 hours to go once the plane is cleaned and refulled. Photo of the other Harbour Bridge when I have taken some.

Sunday, 26 March 2006

OAP's Travel Free.

One thing I will miss while I am away on holiday is the introduction of free travel on the buses for the over sixties and disable. From 1 April those will the correct pass will be able to board the bus, show their pass and tell the driver where they are going. The driver will then issuse a ticket with this information on. Bit of a bind but the company and the council need to monitor the use of the free travel and it's cost so they can claim the money back from the Government who are partly funding this arrangment.

I say partly funding as so far the amount that the local councils are getting is about £100 000 less than they expect to need. This means that the Council Tax payers of Torbay will be helping to pay for the free travel. OK at the moment, at least we are funding are own old dears. But in two years time any one over 60 can get free travel any where not just in their own areas. That means that Torbay, which has lots of over sixties of it's own will have to fund the OAP's who come down on holiday from Scunthorpe, Walsaw and Rotheram to name but a few. I hope the government realise this and incress the funds. If they don't I hope we get at least a thank you note from the towns mentioned above.

Saturday, 25 March 2006

Road Ahead Closed

The Yellow notice in the photo tells of a road closing for a week in the middle of Paignton. Every bus that goes in to Paignton Bus Station goes along this road. Half the buses that come out of Paignton drive along this road. Most traffic going through Paignton use this road. The diversion instructions which are posted in the office are two pages long and uses the phrase "Use extreme caution, " several times. From Sunday it is going to be chaos. Buses will be running late, traffic will queue for miles and travel in the bay will grind to a holt.

Do I care. Not in the slightest Because from Sunday I will be on holiday for a few weeks. I will post while I am a way and do my best to bore every with my holiday photos and stories of endless beaches and cool beer in some pub overlooking some exotic ocean.

Friday, 24 March 2006

A Question for you.

Here's a question for you.

But first a little background information. The 12 and the 12A both travel from Newton Abbot to Brixham. They both follow the same route and use the same bus stops from Newton to Torquay and on to Paignton Bus Station. After Paignton they take different routes to Brixham. The 12 goes through Goodrington and Waterside, the direct route to Brixham. The 12A goes via the Zoo, Roselands estate and South Devon College before rejoining the 12 route at Windy Corner. The journey time to Brixham is 22 mins longer on the 12A. So if you want to get to Goodrington or Waterside you must take the 12. If you want the Zoo, Roselands or the college you must take the 12A.

However if you are getting of at Paignton or somewhere before Paignton then either the 12 or the 12A will take you to where you want to got. If you are going to Brixham you can get either, the 12 is much quicker and an easier ride, so most people in Newton, Torquay and Paignton who are going to Brixham will want to catch the 12. Even is it means waiting 7 or 8 mins for the 12, it is worth the wait. Personally I would not travel to Brixham on the 12A unless someone paid me (which of course they do).

O.K. Here is the question.

You are a 12 driver. you are traveling 100 yards behind a 12A which is stopping at the stop outside Torquay Library. There are 8 or 10 people waiting at the stop. You have no way of knowing if any of those people want to catch your bus, the number 12, or if they are all going to get on the 12A that is at the stop.

Do you accelerate up to a noticeable fraction of the speed of light so you can get past the 12A before some little old dear who wants to catch your bus to Waterside (12A don't do to Waterside, remember) can manage to get the 30 feet to the back of the 12A and put her hand out for you to stop?

The correct answer is of course YES.

Surprised by that answer. I hope so. But read the question again. It asked what do you do. Well O.K. You might not do that. YOU might slow down, pull in to the left and watch the people at the bus stop carefully to see if any of them are interested in catching your bus. Unfortunately there are a large number of our drivers who don't.

Now you might think I am having a go at them, well you would be right. But when I think back to the introduction of the 12A seven months ago I can not remember receiving any training or instruction on this matter from the company training officer. Perhaps now would be the time we did.

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

Budget 2006

If you own one of these, good luck in the Budget tomorrow.

Monday, 20 March 2006

Stick It Out

If you live in the Bay you may have seen the poster in the photo. But then again you probably haven't. So far on the 12 route I have spotted 5 of these posters. None of them in what you would call prime sites. I hadn't realized until now and I am just guessing, but just as you would pay more for an ad shown during Coronation Street than after the Epilogue, it would appear that even in the humble art of bus stop advertising some sites are more prime than others. The one in the photo is out side the old South Devon College (the much missed and sadly lamented old South Devon College). About 3 people a day walk past this spot and the poster isn't even visible to those few passengers who now wait there for a bus. An other is across the road from the Churston Golf Club, facing Windy Corner. No body ever, in the whole history of Torbay has approached this bus stop from the direction of Windy corner.

Even the two in the town centre are on the Pravillion stops, again on the wrong side for anyone walking up to the bus stop to see this big yellow glove calling on the masses to stand on tip toe and stick their hand out. Torbay Council and Stagecoach are running this campain designed to make it easier for the bus driver. The very first post(1) two years ago when I started this blog was called Put Your Hand Out If You Want Me To Stop.(Put your hand down, I mean if you want me to stop the bus not the blog). Maybe some in Head Office is reading this and said, "Hay, that's a good idea." Well if you are an even better idea would be 15% pay rise in May; just a hint.

Idea good, visibility poor. Spend some more money on prime sites, put a bit more effort into this campain. I mean there isn't even a poster in Paignton Bus Station or in Union Street. Thousands of passengers would see them there instead of the 0.00003% of our passengers who are seeing them at present. So far I haven't had a single passenger ask me where they can get a big Yellow Glove. Big disapointment. The best place for posters like this would be on the bus, not quiet as big of course, A4 would do. It would give the passengers some thing to read during their journey and may even get through to one or two of them. However a source within the company told me that this option is not planned for the near or middle future.

Any way, if you want a bus and you see it coming please put your hand out. It may not stop but at least you have entered into the spirit of things.

My First Ever Post

Stopping a bus from the outside.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004.


No, not you dear reader, the person at the bus stop.I don't want to stop, I want to keep going so I can get to the terminus and have a smoke. Stopping means I face the probability of being asked hard to answer questions like 'How much is it to Brixham?' or 'What time is the last bus?'or 'Where were the last 3 buses?'
The passengers on the bus don't want me to stop, they just want to get where they are going as quickly as possible without some vastly overweight person who smells getting on the bus and sitting next to them in the only empty seat on the bus.
The car drivers behind don't want me to stop as they will have to check their mirrors, slow down, signal to the drivers behind and the pull out in the face of car drivers coming the other way who also don't want me to stop.
The car drivers half a mile back down the road don't want me to stop as it means the will have to risk life, limb and the nearside of their car trying to get past me as I put on a right turn signal and pull straight out in front of them with total disregard for the fact that they have speeded up to 50 mph in a misguided attempt to get in front of me. Who can blame them, even I don't like travelling behind a bus?
So you are the only person on the face of the planet who wants me to stop. Put some effort into getting me to stop. Lie in the road, take all your clothes off and hold a big sign with 'Please Stop' written on it, or just put your hand out.
PS These methods of getting the bus to stop are not guaranteed. There are some bloody minded bus drivers out there who will find any excuse to stare in the rear view mirror from the moment they see you at the stop until they are well past you. Sorry about that.

Paignton, Saturday Lunch Time

If you were in Paignton Town centre on Saturday at around 2:00 pm this is what you would have been looking at for quiet a long time. Avent engineering had put up temp traffic lights, dug a hole in the road and gone home. After a while the lights all changed to red and nothing moved for half an hour.

Let me make one thing very clear at this point. If you drive up to a set of traffic lights that are stuck on red, once it becomes clear to you that the lights have failed, YOU MUST DRIVE THROUGH THE LIGHTS. Other wise we will all die of old age in the middle of Paignton. This is the law, providing you drive through with caution you are not breaking the law.

Anyway after not moving for a couple of mins I along with other drivers got on the radio to Yellow control who rang the council with the information re the lights. Instantaneously they reacted and an hour later the lights were working again. Well OK, an hour isn't instant but when you consider that it took two hours to shut the sea front on Friday when there were 40 foot waves crashing down on the road it isn't too bad.

When Advent present their bill to the council for the road works, the council should deduct £5 000 and tell Advent that next time their lights fail it will be £10 000. Not just Advent but all contractors. Especiallyly the ones who recently went away for the weekend and the only thing they left in the road were the temp lights and the generator for the lights. Come Torbay, road works management has got to be looked at. We are short enough of roads as it is without having those we have got blocked by uncaring contractors.

Sunday, 19 March 2006

Sea Front Flooded

Friday evening, I was doing my once a month late duty((ends at 21:32) which is late for me). I knew the forcast was for a strong east wind which usually means the sea front will close just before High Water,19:45, and stay closed for about 3 hours. So when I drove out of Torquay at 19 30 I was expecting the front to be closed. Usually the big waves come over between the Livermead House Hotel and the Livermead Cliff Hotel. They are only 200 yards apart and yes, in the summer it does cause problems. It used to just suprise me that holiday makers didn't remember which hotel they were staying in, the look they give you when you ask, it's as if you have just asked then to explain why Tony Blair is such a crook.

Any way when I drove past the Livermead House, a 30 foot wave came over the wall and crashed down on the bus. For a moment it was like driving 'Das Boot.' Water, sand and gravel all over the road. And still 20 mins to High Water, surely the road would be closed when I got back from Brixham. An hour later it was worse, 40 foot wave and even more sand and gravel splattering the bus. It isn't the water that is the main problem. The council, used to let buses through when the big waves came over but now they are concerned that rocks (small) will damage windows and some one will get hurt. They don't care so much that some one gets hurt, it's the look on the Lawyers face when he hands over the writ that worries them most. Any way back from Newton and the road was finally closed, almost 2 hours after high tide. I think the person who's job it is to close the sea front didn't turn in for work, because by the time the road was closed the waves were much smaller. Any way, round the diversion in the dark. Last time we used the diversion in the dark a bus hit a tree, poor tree, and 2 windows when in. This time the controller spent the whole time saying, "There's no rush, drive in the middle of the road, don't worry about oncoming cars, just watch out for trees. " The trees must have learnt, because none of them jumped out in front of any buses and we lost no windows.

As global warming gets worse the road will close more often and the diversion will be used more and more. So if you live along there sell up now before you find yourself living on a bus route.

Friday, 17 March 2006


I did a school run on Friday, not too many of the little darlings, I just catch the last few stragglers. When I stopped in Kingskerswel to let a couple off, (no I don't throw them out the emergency exit much as I would sometimes like to) one, aged about 12 turned and said, "You're a wicked bus driver."

For a brief moment my ego deflated faster than a balloon landing on a lighted cigarette. Here's me thinking I was the best in the bay and this little kid though I was trash. I tried to think of something nasty and cutting I could say to the little b******. Then I remembered that words do change with time and wicked doesn't mean what it meant when I was 12.

What a nice, pleasant, observant, good mannered, truthful little boy.

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Good PR

Rats are rats.
Pigeons are rats with wings
Squirrels are rats with good PR.

Loan wanted

An interest free loan of £1 000 000 would be nice. I can not promise a seat in the house of lords but I can promise a free seat on any bus I am driving if you could find a spare million in your wallet . Please don't be shy.

Time to go, Tony!

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

Learn and Earn

When I learn to drive a bus it was in a battered wreak that was almost as old as me.

New bus drivers these days don't know they're born.

Mind you, if you left click on the photo (it will get much bigger) you will notice the odd batter here and there. I wonder who thought up the slogan, real catchy, shame about the colour.

Tuesday, 14 March 2006

99 999 Miles

I was driving this bus yesterday and when I got to Brixham I noticed the mileage.

The bus entered service on the 01 March 2004 so it has done 100 000 miles in two years and two weeks which works out at 945 miles per week.

Just in case you ever wanted to know how far our buses went every week.

Monday, 13 March 2006

“You couldn’t let me out here, could you?”

No, not a chance.

Actually what I say when some asks me if I can let them of the whilst we are stopped at traffic lights or in heavy traffic is, “ Sorry Sir, the company aren’t keen on us opening the doors except at bus stops.”

There are door on buses for one very good reason. It isn’t to stop people getting on with out paying or to keep the bus warm in winter and roasting in summer. It’s to stop passengers hurting themselves buy getting on or off buses when they are moving. Back in the dim and distant past all buses were what is known in the trade as back loaders. The old London Routemaster is the most famous example of a back loader. An open platform at the back and until front loaders turned up in the late fifties and early sixties passengers regularly hurt themselves decking on and off moving buses.

Two examples I most vividly remember from my childhood, one happened at Brookes’s Bar in Manchester. I had just come out off the Imperial Cinema (a flea pit, you could sit in the front 4 rows for 6 pence (old money), you were about 6 feet from the screen and you usually came out with a stiff neck as you spent the entire film turning your head from side to side just so you could see all the screen). Across the road stood, and still stands, the Whalley Hotel. Some one came out of the pub just as the 81 was leaving. He forgot the old maxim that there will always be an other bus (who am I kidding) and started running after the bus as it pulled away from the stop. Grabbing the bar at the back of the platform he hoped to pull himself on to the bus. Instead he found that he was running faster that Lynford Christie on a good day and was unable to let go of the bar. He continued running, holding the bar in the desperate, forlorn hope that he would gain enough speed to deck on the bus. Sorry to say he didn’t make it and the effort of running faster than a speeding bus got too much and he fell, still holding on to the bar, and was dragged along into Moss Lane where somebody managed to tell the driver who stopped. An ambulance was called.

The other example happened at All Saints where some decked of the bus as it went round the corner into Oxford Street. The motor cycle combination hit him and he ended up in the side car. He was a bit luckier then the above gent, after a brief shouting match with the motor cyclist he walked off with only a slight limp.

So we have had doors on buses for over 40 years and passenger still ask if they can get off at the lights. Some drivers do let them. Not me. It’s to do with the look on the lawyer’s face when he asks you how you broke your leg.
“Getting off a bus.” You reply. A slight smile appears on his/her face.
“At a bus stop?” He/she asks.
“Yes.” you reply. The smile vanishes like a ticket inspector when he realizes the bus approaching is on a school run.

Or you answer, “No. At the traffic lights.” The smile is now broader than the Grand Canyon, £ signs exploding in his/her head.

So if you were one of the four passengers who asked the question at the top of the page last Friday, you have a brief inkling of why I refused. If you were the one in Brixham, I am not a miserable git. I just don’t see why I should risk my job to save you 10 seconds.

I hope you all watched part two of Planet Earth apart that is, the gentleman in Brixham who called me a miserable git. Personally I hope your TV blew up.

Saturday, 11 March 2006

Some Passengers You Just Don't Want To Carry.

Now and then, no matter how much you like this job there are some passengers you would just as soon didn't get on the bus. I had a some like that get on in Fleet Walk yesterday. I know what you are thinking, some one the worse for drink, staggering all over the place with sick dribbling down their shirts and no idea where they wanted to go. No, have an other guess. A gang of football hooligans shouting obscenities about the owner of the local football club. Sorry, next guess. 15 hoodies, all claiming to be under 5 and didn't have to pay. Good try but no where near.

They were two dear sweet little old ladies. And I mean little and I mean old; weighting about 4 stone each and well in to their nineties. Ah I hear you say. What have I got against dear sweet little old ladies? Well nothing in fact. It was where they wanted to go. The Willows, the out of town shopping complex.

What's wrong with that. Apart from the fact that to call it a complex is a gross miss use of the English Language. Mark & Sparks, Comet, A furniture store and a supermarket do not make a shopping complex. Even if you include the petrol station. It's so unnoticeable that I just tried putting Willows Torquay in my search engine and after 10 mins looking I found a 3 line entry about the Willows on a web page about getting round in the Bay. The other problem is that it is a ten minute walk from the nearest bus stop and that is if you are young, fit, healthy and walk at 5 and a half miles per hour. If you are frail and ninety and don't know the way it is going to take a lot longer that that, especially if there is a wind coming uninpeaded all the way from Russia with the words, "WARNING. VERY COLD WIND." written in BIG letters all the way through. I did not want these two little old ladies to make this trip. I tried really hard to dissuade them not to make this trip. An other passenger also concerned, joined in. But they were determined. I couldn't refuse them. I mean their behaviour wasn't offensive and they could pay but I really didn't want to take them. I can only hope that after a few mins walking they realized how far and how cold it was and returned to the bus stop and went back to Torquay.

I have read the local paper but there is nothing about old ladies being taken to the hospital with local police chief ranting,"Who could have left these poor sweet old ladies out here in this weather. We will Find him and he will suffer. We will bring him to justice."

Thursday, 9 March 2006

Crash detectives

Yesterday I watched a program on BBC about a team of Greater Manchester Police Officers who do nothing but investigate Road Traffic Accidents where there is a fatal, or a serious injury. It showed the careful examination of the scene of the accident, looking for skid marks wasn't the half of it. In two of the accidents shown they were actually looking for, as they called it, body tissue. In the first crash, a single vehicle incident they matched up marks on curbs with scuff marks on a wheel rim which showed the driver had lost control, hit one curb them hit the curb on the other side of the road before going side on into a brick wall. The drivers side took the impact and he died. As some times happens the passenger had minor cuts and bruises. The car and the wall were wreaked.

The third accident interested me the most as it involved a Stagecoach Manchester Bus which had come into contact with a pedestrian. The road, Oxford Road in front of theBBC in Manchester was closed while the team tried to work out what had happened. In order to decide if the pedestrian had been dragged along by the bus one of the team lay in the road and examined the underside of the bus for any sign of human tissue. As he said later on in the program he felt like a vulture, just waiting around for a serious crash and them swooping down and digesting the evidence. Important work which could end up with a motorist spending time in prison, but could equally end up clearing an innocent driver. In the case of the car that hit the wall it turned out the driver was twice over the drink drive limit. In the case of the bus, CCTV footage didn't show the accident its self but it did show that the bus had driven through a green traffic light 10 feet before the collision point. The pedestrian, who could not remember the incident almost certainly walked out in front of the bus without looking.

Over the last few years we have had several serious crashes where the road has been closed while our local crash detectives have investigated the cause of an accident. At times it seemed to me that the delays these investigations cause have been a little over the top. Watching this program makes it easier to understand why they have to take so much time to make sure that when they report, they get it right.

To day I came very close to being the centre of the attention of Devon and Cornwall's Crash Detectives. As we approach Sherborne Rd in Newton there is a 'Y' junction. The main road bends away to the right and is controlled by traffic lights. We take the road off to the left. There were two cars waiting in front of me at red lights but there was plenty of room for me to go off to the left. Just as I about to past the second car at the light the door was thrown open and a leg was thrown out. Before the body could follow I managed to blow the horn. The leg retreated back into the car and the door slammed with some haste. In these situations I have given up shouting at any one. It doesn't do any good. I just mutter something quietly to myself. What I muttered to was, "I hope I frightened you lady, because you sure frightened me."

Thinking about it a little later I realized that if I had been ten feet futher back the outcome would have been totally different. She would have had time to have got out of the car and all me blowing the horn would have done would have made her turn and look just as the bus would have hit her. I don't think she will open a passenger side door of a car again for a while without looking round very carefully. At least I hope not.

News Item in Duplicate Bus

Wednesday, 8 March 2006

Some Bastard Put Ball Bearings in the Roof.

I drove one of our super duper, brand new, low floor buses on Saturday. Fleet number 18305. Slight problem with this bus. When it was being built somebody at Transbus decided that it would be fun if they dropped a dozen or so ball bearings into the roof space above the driver's head.

So now when you are driving along, every time you brake all these balls roll forward, when you accelerate they all roll back and when you go round a corner or even move in or out slightly they go from side to side. And it is driving me crazy.

The roof panel is fairly large, about 2.4 metres by 1.5 metres and is held in place by about 20 very small screws. When you take something like that out it never goes back exactly right. So I can see the engineering department falling over themselves to remove it just to get rid of these balls. I mean they aren't effecting the safety of the bus, the brakes aren't going to stop working or the steering wheel isn't going to come off in my hands and they have lots of other problems to deal with without bothering about a few balls rolling about above my head that are slowly driving me crazy. Eventually I will drive the damn bus over Berry Head and have done with it. I might even ask the passengers to get off first. If they're lucky.

At lest some one has manage to get the fuellers to reverse the buses onto the bus park. Makes it so much easier to get out in the mornings.

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Can hold wheel, but not reach pedals.

On Wednesday I took over a live bus in Paignton Bus Station. The previous driver got out and as is usual it this situation imparted any minor problems with the bus, you know the sort of thing, ticket machine was down, doors won’t shut, brakes don’t work, drives like a pig, three toed sloths were overtaking on the hill out of Brixham. That sort of thing. The one important thing he didn’t tell me was that the steering wheel adjuster was jammed, again.

On our super duper new buses it is possible to adjust the steering wheel height and rake. You can have it so high you would need to look through the wheel its self to see the road or you can tilt it back so far you would need to sit half way down the bus to get behind the wheel. Bit of a problem reaching the brake pedal. Any way, I like the wheel as low down and as far forward as possible. So when I got into the driver’s seat and found the wheel up near the roof I pressed the button to release the air that holds the wheel in position. Nothing. No hiss of escaping air, no movement of the wheel.

I got on the radio and informed control that I would like a change of bus and the time that I would be passing the depot. When I got there, there was my change of bus, a Dennis Dart. I was changing my super duper, brand new low floor double decker bus for a 15 year old mid floor bus. Two very narrow steep steps for the old dears to struggle up and no where for the baby buggies. And heating. What’s that?

No problem, all I had to do was get to Newton and back and the other bus would be fixed. 45 mins. Sure enough when I got back to the depot there was my super duper, brand new low floor bus with enough heat to melt the artic ice caps sitting waiting for me.

Now in this situation, with the centre of Torquay only a mile away it is usual that those passengers only going to Torquay stay on the bus and the driver who brought to replacement bus drives them down into town. Any going beyond Torquay have to change buses. So I explained all this and was upset to see two very elderly and not very moblile passengers start to get up. They were going to Paignton and would have to change buses. When we got to the other bus, the driver, Chris, 6 foot 4 ins tall and the wheel set as far back as it would go, got out and I got on followed by the passengers.

Guess what? The wheel wouldn’t move. I couldn’t even reach the pedals. So we all had to get back on the Dart with it’s two narrow steep steps and no heat.

I was, along with the passengers NOT happy.

I went into the office that evening and as soon as the controller saw me he went and hid.

P.S. A couple of days later the bus, 18073 went in the work shop for sevice and the adjuster switch was taken apart and cleaned. It is now working properly. I live in hope.

Sunday, 5 March 2006

12A departs at 08 40 12 Arrives 0846

I work a four week rota. So every 4th Sunday I do duty 3672 which departs from the depot at 08 14. At Shiphay Lane, 1 min down the road I pick up a Zoo Keeper on his way to work at Paignton Zoo (as featured on BBC TV a few years ago). To get to the zoo he has to travel with me through Torquay and on to Paignton Bus Station where he must change to a 12A. Seems simple. Except for one little detail. The 12 I am driving doesn't get to Paignton until 08 43. The 12A has left at 08 40. The next one is not until 09 40. So a wait of 57 mins. Why I hear you ask doesn't he get the bus in front of me. That way he will get to Paignton in time to catch his bus. The problem with this is I am the first bus from Torquay to Paignton on a Sunday morning.

So I did what I always do. I got on the radio and asked the controller at Paignton to ask the 12A driver to wait a couple of mins until I got to Paignton. Controller said,"No problem."

As I was arriving in Paignton Bus Station an other driver was reporting that a horse had left it's stable and was running along the main road in to Brixham. So the controller got on the phone to the police and forgot to ask the 12A driver to wait for me. So I arrived, but the 12A had gone.
So the poor zoo keeper had either a long wait or a long walk.

As it happened we had a spare driver doing nothing who was able to run the zoo keeper up to the zoo so all ended well. Any way the Operations Manager will get yet an other memo from me, this one asking that the 08 40 12A should always wait in the Bus Station until the 12 arrives. A delay of two or three mins at that time on a Sunday morning is not going to be a problem for the 12A.

Any way, I headed for Brixham, camera at the ready for a photo of the horse running up the road but by the time I got there the stable door had been bolted with the horse well and truly in side.

P.S. If you missed Planet Earth on BBC TV to night then catch the repeat on Saturday. If you can't then get someone to record it for you. If you don't live in the UK then ring up your local TV station and get them to buy a copy from the Beeb NOW.

Saturday, 4 March 2006

Price of Fuel

I don't have a car. Where I live is handy for the town centre and for the 12 bus stop which takes me to work. From leaving home I can be at work in 15 mins so no real need for a car. But earlier in the week I had to pick someone up at Exeter Airport early in the morning. Now the shed was fairly full of rubbish that has been thrown in there over the last 7 years so I decided to kill two birds with one car hire and hired a van instead so I could take the rubbish to the council tip, sorry recycle centre.

So of to the airport, then back to Torquay, quick cup of coffee, then load the van up and of to the recycle centre in Paignton. When I got there the person in charge came up to me and said, "No vans here mate, we only let cars in here." Now next to me was a camper van big enough to hold the population of a smallish village and on the other side was a 4 wheel drive towing a trailer big enough to play football in. I explained that I didn't have a car and that the contents of my van was in fact household rubbish and not commercial. A sniff, followed by, "Well OK mate but don't make a habit of it." Been there, done that, haven't got the tee shirt though.

Any way when I was taking the van back I filled up with fuel. Now most nights when I finish work I drive the bus in to the depot and on to the fuel pump where the cleaners fill it up with 100 litres of fuel. I don't have to pay for it though. In fact I haven't filled up with fuel and paid for it for years and could not work out how I had done 54 miles and it cost £10.00. Thats 5.4 miles per pound. Or to put it an other way 18p per mile. How can people afford to run cars with fuel costing so much. Is it a backdoor attempt by the government to try and stop people using cars? Well if it is, sorry Tony, I am afraid it just isn't working.

Thursday, 2 March 2006

Property lost, found and returned to owner.

One of those feelgood moments yesterday. I was in the last leg of the shift, just half an hour to go when an other driver came on the radio asking if any one had found a wallet on a 12/12A. So I had a little moan to myself. There are 25 buses out there with either 12 or 12A on the front so when this kind of request gets broadcast 25 drivers pull over to the side of the road and check their buses, upstairs and down stairs for said wallet.
Give us a bit of help, like where did the looser of the wallet get off the bus, how long ago and which direction the bus was going in would eliminate 97.5% of the buses and narrow the search down to just 2 of us. Also is the lost object upstairs or down, at the front or the back.
Anyway I pulled over and had a look. And there it was, under the first seat. So on the radio to let the owner know that his wallet had turned up. Some people, the owner off this wallet included use wallets like filing cabinets, so loosing it wouldn't just be losing some cash but photos, driving licenses credit cards, old letters and accumulated junk that a woman would need a large handbag to carry round.
I explained to the other driver that after I got to Newton I went dead(1) back to the depot and so would be there in 40 mins. When I got there 39 mins later the gentleman was there, waiting. He was very grateful and offered me a small reward which I refused saying it was only part of my job. He then asked me for my name so he could write to the boss and tell him how wonderful I and the other driver who had helped him were. Now it is not company policy to give drivers names out but the chance of the boss getting a letter from a member of the public telling him I was the best bus driver on the planet was too good to miss.
I am looking forward now to the boss giving me a well deserved pat on the back some time in the next few days.

(1) Out of Service.