Thursday, 30 November 2006
Wednesday, 29 November 2006
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Friday, 17 November 2006
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
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
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 Â£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
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
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
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.
Wednesday, 8 November 2006
Tuesday, 7 November 2006
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
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.
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
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 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.