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.

(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


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 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,
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.