Monday, 30 October 2006
Keep up the good work boys.
Sunday, 29 October 2006
An other couple who didn't reset their clocks came running up to the bus struggling with big suit cases in Brixham as I was just about to leave at 09:48 heading for Paignton. "Would the bus get to Paignton before 11 O Clock?" they wanted to know, as they had a coach to catch. Being a nasty sod I told them the journey time to Paignton was 20 mins. They looked a bit dismayed by this piece of information. Then after a suitable pause I told them I would be in Paignton for 8 mins past ten so they would have plenty of time to go for a cup of coffee. Then the penny dropped. I expect they enjoyed the coffee.
Footnote; To Tony Blair. Some thing to do before you go:-
Please get rid of this stupid twice year changing of the clocks and stay on summer time all year round. I know, we could call it British Standard Time. We tried it last century but it was abandoned as the Scots didn't like it. Dark till nine in the morning they said. Well they have their own Parliament now so they can have their own time as well.
Friday, 27 October 2006
The Green and Cream bus shown here is a Leyland National registered in 1974. Drivers who have been in the job longer than I speak of them with a mixture of love, fear, admiration, nostalgia and lots of other emotions. Me, I have never driven one so I don't know what they are all about. This one, which was parked in our bus park one rainy day last week belongs to a gentleman called James. He is based in Exeter and has several photos of former Devon General Buses and owns one or two. Click here for a link to his site if you like old buses.
Thursday, 26 October 2006
Well I hope I scared her because she sure produced a string of obscenities from me in very quick time. All very quietly under my breath I should add.
Please note; No passengers were offended or hurt in the making of this skid mark.
Note (1) In the UK if you are letting someone out of a side road or allowing a bus to pull away from a bus stop you flash your headlights. Not many motorist know this; not the bit about letting the bus out any way.
Wednesday, 25 October 2006
Anyway I went into Sherborne Rd on Tuesday and there standing talking at the lights was a senior police office, a contractor in a yellow jacket and some one who could have been either an FBI agent or some one from the Highways department. Probably the latter, funny how council officials tend to look like FBI agents. Could be the dark suits.
To day when I went down there, even more yellow jackets standing there looking at the width of the road with puzzled looks. Some one made a cock up and we are going to suffer with yet more road works.
Now was it the blog that produced this activity, or did the union rep's note to management do the trick. Or maybe the email I sent Teignbridge Council on Tuesday morning pointing out the difficulty this stretch of road was causing had the desired effect. Who knows? Who cares so long as they fix the problem in the near future or at least some time before I retire.
Tuesday, 24 October 2006
So you all know what happened today. I started in Torquay and should have left at 10:11 but the bus didn't turn up till 10:28. The reason, a broken down vehicle at Manor Corner. And the vehicle that was broken down was large, about 14 feet high, a bit over 8 feet wide and about 32 feet long, just to make matters worse. And Manor Corner is probably the busiest junction in the Bay,just to make matters even worser. To add to my problems the bus in front of me had not been held up by this large broken down vehicle and this meant I started to pick up a lot of passengers and run even later. When I had picked up the bus and reported that I was 17 mins down one controller who I will not name said, "Not to worry, you'll soon make that up." I love an optimist.
At one point I was well over 45 mins down. On Tuesday I had carried 96 passengers and the last time I had done 3612 duty, the one I was doing today I had carried 224 passengers. To day 361. And guess what duty I have tomorrow. If I hear one word about broken down vehicles I am going home.
Sunday, 22 October 2006
OK, it wasn't a riot but you know what these newspapers are like with eye catching headlines. What it was was a hundred or so National Health Service workers having a well ordered stroll through the centre of Torquay on a damp Saturday lunch time and guess who got caught up in it.
They were protesting about the way the government are running the NHS. Hospitals are losing vital services like Doctors and Nurses and Equipment and Drugs but are being over run with admin departments and red tape, enough red tape to stretch from here to Alfa Centuri. Which is a long way believe me. The NHS is and has always been used as a political football. Getting kicked about just so one political party can score points over the other. What I can not understand is that the Government have been running the NHS since 1948. Surely they should be able to do it properly by now after 58 years.
P.S. Sorry NHS workers, a million people took to the streets to try and stop Blair the Dicktator from going to war with Iraq and he took not a blind bit of notice. I wouldn't hold your breath if I were you. You'd need a tracheostomy to get you breathing again and there is a 3 month wait.
No out of service bus turned up but we were joined at 19:25 by an other driver who was changing over with the driver of the bus we were now waiting for, the 19:29. This bus appeared in the distance at 19:26; not due till 19:29 and we all made comments about drivers running early. We began walking slowly to the bus stop, expecting the approaching bus to pull in as the driver was getting off. We were still about 30 yards away from the stop with the bus coming up behind us when a thought occurred to me just a few seconds too late.
What if the bus we had seen go by at 19:12 hadn't been the 19:14 running early but the 18:59 running 13 mins late and the bus coming up behind us wasn't the 19:29 running 3 mins early but the 19:14 running 12 mins late. And it was. And no one had put their hand out and we were still 30 yards from the stop and it went straight by at a steady 29.9999 mph oblivious to the screams being directed in it's direction by me and Brian.
The 19:29 arrived at 19:40 running 11 mins late.
There is a moral in this story some where.
I did ask the depot Union Rep if he knew what was going on but he hadn't a clue. He did say he would find out as soon as possible but I know he has been busy going round in very small circles for the last few months and he hasn't yet been able to report back to me.
Thursday, 19 October 2006
Two items to report, both from the Bus Station in Newton Abbot. One happened last night. The local teenagers decided to add a little excitement to their other wise dull and boring lives by climbing over the railings on the footbridge and dropping down onto the roof of the bus below. I don't expect they were trying to get a free ride some where because the only other bridge we go under is the one at the bottom of Belgrave Road in Torquay and we tend to go under it at 30 mph. If they were going to get off there they would have to time their jump just right or the word would definitely have been splatter.
The second incident gave me much more satisfaction. There are signs at both ends of the bus station which state that there is No Entry to any vehicle except buses and bikes. But as I have mentioned here before nothing is ever done about the hundreds of cars and vans that use the road as a race track every day. Until to day. I was waiting time and a white car drove through at at least 30 mph. Now we have a 10 mph speed limit as there are lots of people crossing the road, mostly passengers and we wouldn't want to wipe out any passengers, would we . Then I saw him stop. Then I saw a policeman walk up to the drivers window. By the time I drove out he had reached the paper work stage. At least a £60.00 fine and 3 points on the license. 12 points and you have to learn how to catch the bus. Keep up the good work, boys in blue.
A footnote on a post about the car for sale. If you wanted to buy it, sorry its gone. Maybe the owner read the blog and took it home to fix it. Or maybe someone reading the blog decided that is was just what he wanted. It was a bit of a shock today as I drove past Oldway and it wasn't there, a bit like losing an old friend. Still there are two more in its place.
Rained a lot today, windy too. Autumn is on its way.
Wednesday, 18 October 2006
You are driving your bus towards a bus stop, there is one person standing there. They don't put their hand out. What do you do?
There is a cyclist ahead off you but there is not much room. What do you do?
You pull in at a stop and an off duty bus driver gets on. What should he show you but probably will not?
If you are over 60 what should you have to get free travel on the bus?
You are playing for the depot football team and you kick the ball to an other member of your team. What is the technical term for this action?
On the X46 route from Exeter there is a small range of hills. The road takes a meandering path over the lowest part of these hills. What is the geographical name for this path.
You get to the terminus and have 20 mins to wait before you leave so you read the paper. What are you said to be letting time do?
You are driving your bus through Roselands, the bit going up a hill, round a bend and over two speed humps. There are parked cars on both sides of the road and a car appears. The driver flashes his lights. What should you do.
If you are appearing on Mastermind and you don't know the answer to a question what do you say?
What in God's name am I doing here and why doesn't the ground open up and swallow me and what the **** are all my mates going to say to me tomorrow and for the next twenty years and why did I chose to answer questions on bus timetables.
Tuesday, 17 October 2006
Like most towns and cities in the UK if you want to sell a car you print a FOR SALE notice listing the car's good points and how much you want for the pile of junk and a phone number and stick it to the windscreen. Then you park the rust bucket at the side of the road some where and go home and wait for the phone call from some idiot who would like to buy your car.
It is a good idea if you go and check the state of your car now and then, just to make sure the back bumper (fender) isn't hanging off. Probably a good idea not to park it some where where a passing vehicle can smash into your back bumper.
This car has been here a few weeks so far. Why not try an ad in the local paper. Or at least fix the bumper. And park it some where else.
Monday, 16 October 2006
Lots of seagulls in Torquay. The local division two football team, Torquay United are known as "The Gulls". They are also known by one or two other names which I can't mention here due to the fact that they had a good start to the season but have lost the knack of winning over the last few weeks. But I am not here to talk about football but seagulls. Is you don't live in a seaside town you probably think gulls are magnificent birds. I mean, look at the picture.
If you do live in a seaside town or one that has open cast rubbish tips then you know that gulls are loud, aggressive birds that start screaming an hour before the sun comes up and rip in to plastic rubbish bags in the hope of finding food and are litter louts of the first order. Down here there are notices asking people not to feed the gulls but they get so much food they are able to breed twice a year. We are over run with gulls. Last time I hit a gull it flew into the nearside front windscreen and splattered. The only person on the bus was a sweet little old lady and being new to the bay I was very surprised when she said,"Oh good, an other of the buggers dead." That was 8 years ago and I can now understand why people don't like them, but I do. I mean, look at the picture.
Still, since early Sunday morning we have one less in the Bay. Wasn't my fault, he/she just walked out in front of the bus. I swerved madly hitting two cyclists, three parked cars before ending up in someone's front garden. O.K. O.K. I didn't. Never swerve to avoid seagulls or you could hit two cyclist, three parked cars and four partridges in a pear tree in someone's front garden.
I wasn't even sure I had hit the poor little thing until a couple of hours later when I came back from Brixham. But there it was, lying in the road, dead.
Sunday, 15 October 2006
approach, 1 nano second,
pass the house, a smidgen of a nano second,
disappear up the road, 9 tenths of a nano second
and comparing these times with the time it takes vehicles driven normally and even with vehicles driven at excessively dangerous speeds like 60 mph along the road I would conservatively estimate this bike's speed to have been in excess of 120 mph.
Now if he is still alive I would like to shake the riders hand. Not to congratulate him, just in the hope that some of his luck will rub off on to me.
Thursday, 12 October 2006
In fact it was such a nice day it is a shame that someone from the training deptment hadn't been there on the bus with a camcorder. They could have shown the video to new recruits and told them this is what bus driving is like, "Isn't it a wonderful job?"
Then today, (Thursday). Road works in Preston out side the Living Waters church. They dug the road up, right down to the foundations. Only for about 50 yards. With temporary traffic lights controlling the traffic. I went through on my way to Brixham at about 9:45 when they had only just started. I began to notice there was some thing wrong when I left Brixham. Normally as I go up New Road I should see the next 12 going down New Road into Brixham. Today I didn't see him until I got to the Big Tree which is 15 mins from Brixham. Which meant I had left Brixham 15 mins before and the next 12 wouldn't get there for an other 15 mins. 30 mins between buses instead of 15. It is one of the problems of small town traffic, especially sea side towns. There is only one road through the town and when there is a problem on that road there is just no where else to go.
Anyway, I left Paignton Bus Station on time and finally got through the road works 40 mins late. Even if all the traffic has to go along one road this is definately not on. It is always the same when there are road works in the Bay. No one seems to give a damn about traffic management. They just put some traffic lights up and bugger it. If they manage the traffic that's fine (and a miracle), if they don't who cares. Usually we get a two mile queue on one side and 50 yards on the other. What we had today was the set of pedestrian lights 20 yards from the road works. So you sit waiting for the red light to change to let you through the road works and some one walks up, presses the button and then two things happen. Pedestrian lights change to red and road work lights change to green. You can't go anywhere. Coming the other way, you are driving through the road works and the pedestrian lights go red, so you stop. Mean while the road works lights change but you and twenty cars are blocking the road. Note to Torbay Highways deptment, "Tomorrow, please switch the pedestrian lights off." Oh the good news is the road works are only expected to last two days. The bad news is I have exactly the same duty tomorrow.
Oh yes, almost forgot, at about 5 O Clock in the evening the lights turned to red; at both ends of the road works and for 15 mins nothing moved. At least it was a nice sunny evening and not pouring with rain.
Later in the day a bus broke down in Abbey Road in the centre of Torquay and that caused a little problem all of it's own. But that's an other story. I did end up 29 mins late finishing so I am slightly richer for the day. Had anyone from the training deptment been on the bus today with his camcorder I expect they would have shown the video to the same new recruits just to give a fair and balanced picture of this wonderful job.
Tuesday, 10 October 2006
Not totally clear but the blue sphere is an almost life sized version of one of those glass globes you shake and snow falls for a minute or so. This one is operated by gas or electricity or newclean power or magic for all I care. It is there to inform passers-by that they should book early for their Christmas 'do'. Why firms want to have a Christmas 'do' is beyond me. It is a well know fact that any Christmas 'do' involving more than 20 people from the same company ends up with at least 2 black eyes, one divorce, and two sacking and god knows how many pregnacies and enough embarassing moments to fill 9 minutes on Eastenders.
Now I took this photo two weeks ago on Sept 30th which is 86 days to Christmas. Summer season has only just come to a close and Christmas is being shoved in our faces. I know some one will have already have seen some thing sooner that that is asking us to celebrate the birth on Earth of that well know son of god but I will vote for any political party no matter how far to the left and quiet far to the right that promises me it will ban any mention of Christmas before Advent (1) has started. Oh yes; the next day I went past B & Q Hardware store and they had 20 plastic xmas trees in the window. I'm not even going to take a photo, you get nothing for being second. Not even your photo on this blog.
Footnote (1) Advent, for those of you who are not, or have never been a member of the Christian Party starts the first Sunday in December.
Forgot to mention, just in case you feel like having a Christmas 'do' or indeed you feel like boycotting some where that mentions Christmas in September the pub is the Half Moon in Paignton.
Monday, 9 October 2006
It's good to see that outdoor sports haven't completely vanished under the growing tide of Nintendo and Game Boy.
This set of crossroads is on the way to Brixham from Paignton. The road, as you can see is not very wide and the speed limit is 40 mph. The other problem is there are bends in the road just before the crossroad which ever way you approach so you can not see what is coming towards you for more than a couple of seconds. I have driven through there several thousand times but on Sunday, after a gentle walk along the beautiful Devon coast line, I was down there waiting for a bus. I decided that I would find out exactly how wide the road was. Just out of curiosity. I know it is wider than 16 foot 11 inches because I have been through there with a bus going the other way and we managed to scrape through. Sorry, we managed to get through without scraping any thing. Any way after watching the traffic for a little while I decided not to pace out the width of the road as I wished the rest of my life to be a little longer than 5 seconds
The road on the right, from Cherston Village, is one way. No one can come out of there on to the main road as they would have to move out about 5 feet in order to see what was coming. That doesn't stop them from trying now and then. So, it's just one of the little bits of excitement in and other wise dull day.
The one thing I did notice while I was waiting for a bus was how noisy it was with the cars flashing by at 40 mph every few seconds. A long way from the horse and cart days when the houses by the road were built.
One other thing. A driver did once tell me he was always worried about hitting the gutter on the house to the right of the bus. The photo shows that is not going to happen. You may hit the house but the gutter will survive. The bus probably wouldn't. Nor the house.
Friday, 6 October 2006
For all those years I thought I was alone. This can only be happening to me. At last I find I am not alone. The relief. The sense of belonging. Now I can bring the subject out into the open without being torn apart by the mob. Errr... hang on these people may be members of some religion, very obscure but still a religion. Oh, what the hell, I don't have to get re elected every 5 years.
It is the people who are standing at the bus stop. The have put their hand out and are right by the bus stop. I indicate to pull in and as I slow down they start walking towards the bus, some times briskly enough to take them several yards away from the bus stop. I drive past them and stop at the stop, exactly where they were standing and presumably had been standing for several minutes as they waited hopefully for the bus to arrive. (I love putting a bit of hope in people's lives, it brings a warm feeling deep inside). Then I have to wait while they return to the place they have waited at for so long to get on the bus but deserted at the last moment. One woman had walked so far back that I felt like charging her from the previous fare stage.
Is there anyone out there who knows why these poor souls feel so compelled to bring so much puzzlement into my life? It can't be they just feel like a bit of exercise before they get on the bus. Can it?
Thursday, 5 October 2006
Have a look at the road behind the bus, half hidden by my mirror is 38 tonnes of speeding, sorry rephrase that, going fast (40 mph) heavy goods vehicle. You may also note that the road is not very wide. So if I stop at the bus shelter the back of the bus will stick out into the path of 38 tonnes of going fast heavy goods vehicle. Not the best of ideas, especially on a wet road. So why did the council (1) put the bus shelter there and not 15 feet further forward in the first place. Where there's plenty of room for it. The only logical explanation I can think off is that some one in the council office does not like the people who live in Kingskerswell and wants them to get wet when they get on a bus.
Unfortunately I could run the blog for weeks if I went through all the other misplaced bus stops and shelters along the route. I'm not going to though, prehaps once a month, called imaginatively "This month's misplaced bus stop/shelter."
Footnote (1) Please note; Local Councils erect bus shelters and bus stops, not the bus company.
As you can see from the section of running board I went into Brixham at 18:00 and then ran back dead to the depot to finish. About a mile out of Brixham I drove through the traffic lights at Monks Bridge and I noticed that they were not working, well you do tend to notice things like that when you are driving a bus. Anyway I got on the radio to let the over drivers know that the lights weren't working and got severely castigated by an other driver who pointed out that that message had gone outearlier. So. I had been on my break and hadn't heard it.
5 minutes later an other driver broadcast to the world that the lights in Brixham weren't working. Some one told him he was the 297th driver to put that message out. After a slight pause the first driver said, "Not Monks Bridge. The lights at Bolton Cross."
Now there is a big difference between Monks Bridge when you can move out slowly and stop and let oncoming traffic go if need be and Bolton Cross. There if you move out slowly and there is something coming the whole junction is instantly and completely grid locked. Which is what happened. I got to the garage 30 mins later and buses were still stuck in Brixham and nothing was moving. Had I been if Brixham 5 mins later than I was I would have been very late home and my dinner would have been burnt. Lucky end to the day.
Tuesday, 3 October 2006
They have a game this Sunday, the 8th against Totnes and I am sure we all wish them the very best of luck. I will let you know how they go on.
Monday, 2 October 2006
After a minute or so I worked out the the noise was from a helicopter circling over the centre of Torquay. If it were a coast guard helicopter it would be out at sea or at the top of some cliff some where, not in the centre of town.
When I got up this morning I had a bit of a headache as the noise had continued for over half an hour and I had ended up closing the window. So I took a pill and looked on the news for anything that might explain why the police, it could only have been them, should disturb the sleep of thousands of people. Had someone been murdered, a drugs bust, driven his car up Fleet Street or what. Not a word. Had I been having a very vivid dream? It's now midnight and I have just had an other look, BBC Devon and local papers and still not a word.
If you can help me with my investigation into this matter, answers please in the comments section. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Sunday, 1 October 2006
The other two are both from Phoenix, Arizona and both blog about passenger transport, one from the passenger point of view and one from the point of view of the guy sitting up front. Enjoy.
This is the bus stop in Newton Abbot. I have been driving into Newton for 8 years now and it is always like this when it rains. The drain is blocked up and nothing seems to be done to clear it (or if anything is done it doesn't seem to work). If you look carefully just in front of and to the left of the reflection of the number plate you can see a few coins. Strangers to the town, thinking this is some kind of bizarre wishing well have been dropping coins in the water,probably in the hope that they never return to Newton Abbot, at least not on a wet Sunday.
The company call the ticket a Dog Day Ticket but Rover Rover sounds better.
Out in my back garden I have a max/min thermometer and I knew September was going to be a warm dry month so I noted the max temperature through the month.
The average max temp was 22.5C for the month with the highest temperature being 26C on the 5th and the lowest 17C on the 29th. 21 days out of 30 were above 20C. So next year if you are thinking of having a late holiday you know just where to come.
The photo of the Harbour and Warren Hill was taken on the 24th and shows the blue sky and sun shine for all to see.
Alright, OK, I didn't, not quite. I just asked him nicely would he mind removing the mask ( an Ali G look alike) as he wasn't going to get on the bus with it on. After what followed I almost wish I had taken out said shotgun and blown him away. He started shouting at me and demanded to know if I had asked everyone who had ever got on the bus wearing a mask to take it of. I assured him that I had. He wanted to know how many people had got on the bus wearing a mask. I had to admit that in 9 years there had only been one person daft enough to get on the bus with a full face mask on: him. I then asked him, "Doesn't that tell you something?" He then asked why I wanted him to remove the mask and I explained that if there was a problem I would not know what he looked like.
Imagine the situation. Policeman, "What exactly did he look like?"
Me, "I'm not sure, he was wearing a mask."
Policeman, "Why did you let him an the bus wearing a mask?"
Me" Errrrr... Good Question. Officer"
Our masked friend's responce to my explanation was, "Well I don't want you to know what I look like." Well I ask you? I mean ask any bank robber why he is wearing a mask and you will get the same response. That is if you are very lucky and the bank robber is in an exceptionally good mood.
Then a lady passenger joined in, telling him to take the mask of and put it in his pocket. He turned to her, now she was made up for a night out but tastefully so. He told her she was wearing a mask with all that muck on her face. This was too much so I told him he could not get on the bus even of he removed the mask, and to give Ali G lookalike some little credit he realized he had gone far too far and walked away muttering loudly under his mask.
All in a days work.