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.