Sunday, 30 December 2007

Last Duty of 2007

It's Sunday 30 Dec 2007 and I have just done my last duty for 2007. Mostly fairly quiet, the big excitement of the day was watching two little old ladies trying to cross the road at a most inappropriate place. It was on the sea front by the junction with Belgrave Road. I was heading into Torquay and as I came up to the lights at Belgrave Road there was a coach in the left lane waiting at a red light. As I rolled to a stop in th outside lane for straight on, the two sweet dear elderly ladies walked out from in front of the coach and saw me coming. At first they made as if to move back but when they saw I was stopping they continued across the road. I stuck my head out the window and suggested they didn't cross the road at this point as there were problems ahead that could get them involved in an RTC. (Road Traffic Collision) However they continued to the island in the centre of the road. Safe for the moment. But. From here there is an other much smaller island but to get to it they must watch for traffic coming out of Belgrave Road. It is a wide sweeping corner and traffic goes pretty damn fast by the time it reaches where our two heroes were standing. Also there is the traffic coming from Sheddon Hill. There is only a slight bend to get through before coming past the island, at speed, where, by now there were two slightly worried pedestrians wondering why they didn't listen to the friendly bus driver. Finally they saw a gap in the rushing traffic and made it to the small island. An island so small it was obviously not designed for people to stand on. Not in any great number that is. In fact not in any number greater than zero. OK I know zero isn't a number but the N in PIN stands for number yet we all say Pin number. I digress. Back to the ladies. Now all they had to do to emulate the chicken and cross the road was to wait for a gap in the traffic coming out of Torquay. Now this traffic is not controlled by any lights and tends to be both heavy and fast. Eventually a gap arrived and the brave pair sent off for the promised land. It was only then they noticed the railings. The railings that run along the pavement for a 100 yards designed to prevent people crossing the road at this point. Something I tried to tell them so long ago when they set out with hope in their hearts that if the chicken can get to the other side so can they. Well the chicken might get to the other side and have many near misses, but 15 seconds later it will have forgotten the whole experience. Not our prim, proper, well brought up ladies, realizing there was a barrier in their way and they were wearing dark clothes and cars were heading for them very fast and it was a 20 yard dash to safely. They will have had a moment to remember over their afternoon tea for a few days yet.


One other thing that ended today was the eight day week. We have for years started our working week on a Sunday. Now to come in line with some EU regulation we start on a Monday. So we have just had an eight day week, reminds me of a song. We also have slightly altered rotas from Monday 7 Jan, but only for a few weeks because they will be changed again once work starts on Rock Walk at the end of the month. More as soon as I have details but several ideas, including sending everyone on holiday for 3 weeks at the council's expense, have been put forward. What ever; it's not IF there will be disruptions, it's THERE WILL BE DISRUPTIONS.

Good luck to us all.

Have a good 2008.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Rock Walk Photos

I have put a few photos of what Rock Walk looks like now, before the work starts. Click here. I will add a few more once the work starts and after it has been completed.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Christmas Gone

Well Christmas has come and gone once again. Perhaps it was the fact that I spent much of November in Australia some how shortened the run up to Christmas. Even though there were signs directing the shoppers towards Christmas shopping as I wandered aimlessly round the CBD of Sydney it didn't feel like Christmas when the temperature was in the high twenties.

Anyway I thought it was a quiet Christmas for which I am grateful. My most memorable passengers over the holiday were the couple that got on at Lydl's up at Lowes Bridge. They got on with about 4 plastic bags full of food for the traditional turkey stuffing we in England are famous for at this time of year. They wanted Torr Station which must be about a mile down the road into Torquay. The fare is £1.35 each so I wanted £2.70. The reaction I got suggested they thought this a little over the top. They would sooner walk. Well much as I hate to lose a passenger I avoided being drawn into verbal fisticuffs. Years ago I might have come up with some witty remark but I have mellowed in my middle age and smiled sweetly and as they got of I annulled the tickets I had just issued. I then served the 4 or 5 other people who were waiting to board the bus. Then, surprise, surprise. While the other passengers had been boarding the couple had worked out how far they were going to have to walk and how long their arms would be with 4 plastic bags of food stretching every muscle all the way down to Torre Station. Now years ago I would have made a witty, sarcastic, cutting remark as I sold them, for a second time their tickets down to Torre. But I don't do that sort of thing anymore and I am out of practice and couldn't think of anything in time. When they got off one of the couple pointed out that the fare into town from the stop was only 65 pence so why was it so much to go to Lydl's. Well, ever helpful I pointed out that I didn't set the fares, I only collect them. But very politely.

My most memorable driver was the young lady in Union Street. She was waiting to reverse into a parking place and I was going slowly having just pulled of a bus stop so I slowed to let her go back. As she did she moved out of my way so I started to drive past. There was a big space but she made a bit of a hash of it and didn't turn the wheel enough and suddenly shot forward without regard for the fact that an eleven ton bus was moving slowly past her. I stopped at once, right next to her and about 2 inches away and watched with a small amount of horror as she struggle to get the car into reverse. When she did she still didn't seem to know I was next to her and started to move back turning the wheel frantically. Now the drivers amongst you will know that when you go back with full lock on the front of the car will swing out violently. And I am only 2 inches away from her. The screaming on the bus was mercifully drowned out by me putting my finger on the little button on the end of the indicator arm. This produces a very loud noise which makes all nearby car drivers press hard on their brake pedal and the young lady stopped while I drove off with visions of an accident report form receding in the distance.

Only New Year to go.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Art Work

As you drive down Union Street and turn into Market Street there used to be a depressing grey building. Now there is this.





The largest painting is of the view of the Marina from Rock Walk. At least it will be when Rock Walk is restored to it's former glory. At the moment there are too many bushes and trees to have such a good view of anything. All that will change next year after the Council get to grips with the restoration work.

The Scaffolding used in painting these rather pleasing pictures of how nice Torquay can look was provided by ISCA Scaffolding of Paignton. Phone number 01803 666203.

Seasons Greatings

When I think of Christmas I think of two days without buses. But then I am a simple soul.


Best wishes to all my readers, not only on this festive occasion but for the coming year as well.



Sunday, 23 December 2007

Road Works GONE!


Did I mention the road works have finished, on schedule, more or less, at Livermead. Don't worry if you miss them, they are like old friends and will turn up once again without any warning. Probably two days before Easter.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Steering Wheel

Our buses have adjustable steering wheels. Very modern. Actually we have had adjustable steering wheels for lots of years. In the past you turned a knob and moved the wheel and tightened the knob. Nothing could go wrong. Unless the driver before you had a grip like a Black Hole then it was a bugger to move the knob. The buses we have now use a compressed air device which works fine, you press down on a button and a blast of air releases the catch. Except that now and then the catch doesn't release and the wheel just will not move. And when this happens you can bet the mortgage the driver you are taking over from has had the wheel as different from your position as you can get. Which is a pain in the butt, the back, the shoulders, the arms and the neck.

Rock Walk. Part 1

This is what Rock Walk looks like at the moment. Unlike the plastic bag in the previous post it should look some what different this time next month. The second biggest crane in the country is going to be used to remove most of the trees and bushes which have become unstable on the cliff face and are in danger of falling down on to the main road. Should improve the view as well. Last time I walked along Rock Walk the saying, "Can't see the woods for the trees." sprang to mind.

The work will take 3 weeks, hopefully, but considering what happens to road work estimates locally (Long Road) it could take longer which will make a pig's ear of the current estimate of £0.6 million to the tune of £50 000 per day. Going to make a pig's ear of the 12 and 12A bus routes as well. I don't understand why they didn't just cut the trees down and let them fall into the road. Repairing any damage must cost less than the hire of the crane. Would have been quicker too.

I haven't heard what out diversion will be, something horrible no doubt, involving coming down Fleet Street to the Harbour as usual and then going back up Fleet Street, up Abbey Rd, Lucius Street and Belgrave Road. Usually at this point I say something like, "Should be fun." But it wont. Actually what it will be, if the above is correct, is a useful exercise. There are some people out there who want the buses banned from Fleet Street. The only other way round is via Belgrave Road. Well for three weeks they, and everyone else will get the chance to see if Belgrave Road is a viable alternative to Fleet Street. I do hope the council manage to get parking banned in Belgrave Road for these 3 weeks.

An other idea I have heard mentioned is shuttle buses running between Castle Circus and the Harbour. Please, NO!

More when I heard more.

Click here to read the story as it appeared in the local paper

Plastic Bag from Blog Action Day

Still there after 3 months, no sign of recycling yet.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

One Satisfied Passenger, One Not So Satisfied

I was waiting in Paignton bus station after my meal break yesterday for my bus to turn up. When it did it was a low floor single decker. Unusual but not unknown. This turned out to be a nice idea for at least one of my passengers who boarded with a small child in tow. He had obviously not been looking when the bus turned up as he immediately proclaimed that he wanted to go upstairs. Mother who had been watching said "Well you can't." He disagreed and wandered down the bus and was just a little puzzled not to find any stairs. Mother was quite glad as she was laden down with enough Christmas shopping to feed most of the passengers who were already on the bus and probably would not have made it upstairs. Child wanted to get of and wait for next bus. Mother said “Not a chance”.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Woodcarvings and Christmas Shopping


The weekend, the last but one before Christmas, was dominated by Christmas Shopping and the woodcarver. The woodcarver sets his, in my opinion fairly crude carvings up at the side of the road in a large lay-bye on the Newton Road. This is the busiest road in the area and is desperately in need of a bye-pass. Rumor has it we are going to get one some time this century. Or maybe next. Who knows? Anyway people driving along the road see the carvings and lift of the accelerator to have a look. Personally I think it is so they can say, "Oh look. Someone has done some woodcarving with a chainsaw." The carver used to be here much more often, now he just turns up at Christmas. The police say they can do nothing as it would be hard to prove he is causing an obstruction. Teignbrige Council say he isn't breaking any laws setting up at the side of the road selling his goods. One thing he is doing is slowing down all the traffic each time he appears. Actually there is an other thing he is doing. He is blatantly ignoring parking restrictions that are supposed to be in force in the lay-bye. Some years ago a trader used to park a large van with a smaller van bolted to the roof to advertise vans for sale. He would leave them here for weeks and the Council brought in a parking restriction of two hours parking with no return for 24 hours. That got rid of the vans. The woodcarver arrived at 9 am on Saturday and didn't leave until 3:30pm, that's more than two hours but no parking ticket. He then turned up at 9 am on Sunday, less then 24 hours after he left. That should have been and other ticket. He then stayed till 3:30 pm. More than two hours so yet and other ticket. That's £180 it should have cost to park there over this weekend. He is likely to be there next weekend and I am sure an other £180 worth of parking tickets will go unissued while the traffic winds it's weary way past him. No great problem for a motorist who goes past once and never returns but us poor bus drivers who might go past 3 times in both directions on both Saturday and Sunday and be delayed every time it is a big pain. I did mention this problem to the depot union rep. He didn't seen the least bit concerned but then he doesn't actually have to drive a bus along this road very often.
Christmas shopping went on as usual. Passengers staggered onto the bus laden down with enough shopping to make Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer go slightly pink and proclaimed how much they hated Christmas shopping.
Well, don't do any!
Subscribe to a religion that doesn't believe in Christmas.
Ignore it completely.
Burn the Christmas Card List.
On the night of December 22, the Winter Solstice go out in the back garden and dance naked round a burning candle.
Just have a quite meal, don't invite all of your 127 known relatives round for a meal that will take 4 times as long to cook as to eat and make a fortune for who ever it is that owns Tesco's or what ever your local supermarket is.
Tell everyone you are still paying of last Christmas and are going to save the money for a nice holiday in Torquay next summer.
Or if you just can not do without Christmas then try and do all the shopping in September and not the last weekend before the big day.
Actually I don't care if everyone in Torquay decides to get on the number 12 and go shopping next weekend. I don't even care if the woodcarver sets up at 7 am and brings the Newton Road to a stand still by 9 am. Why? It's my days off on Saturday and Sunday.
Did I mention how cold it's been? No. It's been very cold round here with a wind coming in from the East, direct from Siberia; which obviously hasn't heard of Global Warming yet.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Temporary Traffic Lights

Livermead; halfway between Torquay and Preston has been the scene of more road works that the M1! When I went away they were digging Livermead up, when I got back they were still digging the road up, just in a different place. On Friday as I was heading into Torquay an other driver reported problems with the traffic lights. It seemed that they were letting 25 cars come through from the Preston side and only 8 through from the Torquay side so a big tailback had formed almost into the Harbour area. Long delays expected. When I got there I counted the cars coming from Preston, twenty five made it through. The lights then changed and eight vehicles made it through from the Torquay side, 8 got through but only because two white vans and a taxi went through on red. By now several drivers had been on the radio explaining the situation to the Paignton controller who asked any driver passing the lights if they could get the telephone number of the company providing the traffic lights so he could ring them and ask them to fix the offending lights.

Now I do know that when road works are scheduled people like Fire, Police, Ambulance and in coastal areas like ours, the Coast Guard are informed. The bus company are also informed so they can make any alterations to services. I would be a good idea if included in this information was the phone number of the company providing the traffic lights so we can ring if there are problems. It usually is the bus company who do ring in these circumstances as we are the ones who go through most often. Better still there should be a number at the Town Hall we can ring to let them know the lights aren't working properly. They could them ring the light company and say, "Your lights aren't working properly. That's an £100 fine. If they aren't working properly in an hour that will be an other £100 fine. Cheques made payable to Torbay Council please."

I mean the mechanism for the lights can't be rocket science can it? It just has to switch one light to red, wait 5 seconds and change the light at the other end to green. Then change that one back to red, wait 5 seconds and change the first light back to green. Then just repeat the whole process for the next ten years the roadworks are there.

Anyway control rang and were told someone would be down asap to fix the problem. When whoever arrived in the afternoon he was a fair minded person because after he went away the lights were now letting 25 vehicles through from the Torquay side and 8 from the Preston side. Exactly the opposite of what had been happening in the morning.

All this meant some late running. I was due in Brixham at 20:30, this being only a couple of Fridays before Christmas I expected there to be a big queue; especially as the bus in front of me had somehow been more or less on time and I was 8 minutes late. When I got there, no one there. They must all be saving up for Christmas.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Rock Walk


Torbay Council has carried out its plans to close off Torquay's Rock Walk.Fencing now blocks off access to the popular area after bad weather last weekend highlighted safety concerns.A preliminary inspection of Rock Walk took place in January and then a further more detailed inspection took place in March which found the area was becoming unsafe.




No timetable for the repairs has yet been set, but Torbay Council have already confirmed the main road will need to be closed off as part of the operation when a large crane is brought in.


The above is from the local paper, the Herald Express. Two problems here, in the 9 years I have lived in the Bay I have almost never seen anyone walking in Rock Walk and have never seen evidence of any work being done by the council to maintain Rock Walk. Now £600 000 needs to be spent there. The second problem is the last bit about the crane on the main road. This road isn't just the main road, it is the only road between the Harbour and the rest of Torbay. Get ready for serrious disruption when the work starts.


Here is a bench on Rock Walk for you sit on while you wait!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Churston Grammar School

On Tuesday I wrote a post concerning the children from Churston Grammar School. Let me make it clear, the boys and girls from this school were not misbehaving at all. What they were doing was talking and when 65 people are talking in the space the size of a double decker bus it does tend to be a bit noisy. Sorry about that but if you want silence try a Trappist Monastery. Still that was Tuesday and on Wednesday I did the same duty and drove down to Churston determined to try and maintain silence throughout the journey to Brixham. Well the journey was covered in, well not exact silence but it was very much quieter than the day before. Had the headmaster seen my blog and read the riot act to the children about upholding the honour of the school? Had me standing at the front of the bus demanding silence or else worked? Had the cat got their tongues? No; it was much simpler than that. The bus in front had been running a bit late and had picked all most all of the children and when I got there only 3 of the little darlings boarded the bus. Nice.

Some Thing Make This Job Swing.

Yesterday I picked up about 65 pupils from a local school. When I stopped at a bus stop in New Road Brixham an elderly passenger complained loudly about the behaviour of the children. An other passenger who got of at the next stop said the children had only been noisy, which is what you would expect after several hours in school. When I got to Brixham I checked the bus for an signs of improper behaviour. I could not find any half chewed remains of sandwiches that some loving mum, or dad, had made for their little darling's lunch that the little darling had decided not to eat but save to throw around the bus at all his pals on the way home. Nor could I find any partly eaten chocolate bars slowly mealting into the seats by way of reliving the boredom on a dreary ten minute bus journey. No drinks containers lay on the floor of my beautiful bus gently gurgling their contents out for unwary travellers to slip on. None of the seats had been thrown out the emergency exit at passing motorists for the fun of watching them swerve and cause a multiple pile up on the road to Brixham. Nothing to suggest mayhem had taken place on the bus at all. Just a bit of noise.
Well I am on the same duty today and after I have loaded the children I will explain to them that I had a complaint yesterday about the noise and today the bus trip would be conducted in ABSOLUTE SILENCE. At the first sign of noise I would stop the bus and wait until silence once again was established. How far would I get do you think and how many times would I have to stop before getting the two miles down into Brixham? It would be about 1 O’clock in the morning when they had all fallen asleep. So if you are heading into Brixham this afternoon and the bus in front of you keeps stopping and then pulling away again only to stop ten metres down the road, don't worry, it wont be me. I'm not that mad.

Did I mention the grapes by the way?

No.

That was an other bus trip involving students from South Devon College, older than the school children and sadly, in one or two cases less sensible. One of the students had a bunch of grapes which instead of eating in the time houred fashion had decided to use to practice his bowling skills. He had sat in the middle seat at the back of the bus upstairs and pulled each grape of the bunch and rolled then down the bus. I only found out when the bus had got to Newton and a passenger told me. Now treading on grapes is the first stage to making wine. Drink too much wine and you fall down. Now lets cutt out the middleman and tread on a grape on the floor of a moving bus and you also fall down. Grapes are second only to banana skins in terms of slipperiness. So I told control that I had a problem with grapes and I was telling passengers about the problem and asking them not to go upstairs. No response for a while. I had an other go a bit further down the road as the downstairs section of the bus was getting a bit full. This time control said they would arrange for a controller to board the bus with brush and shovel and remove the grapes. Controller did board but no brush and had to pick each grape up one by one. Several handfulls. All good fun on a sunny afternoon.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Blogger's Block

Hi there, I've been back over a week now and only posted once. I seem to have Blogger's Block. Every time I sit in front of the computer to write a post I think to myself, "I'll just look at the news papers first." An hour later I am still looking at news papers, yesterday I made it to the Madagascar Sport.

It isn't as if nothing was happening down here, it is. Yesterday a bus shelter got knocked down. Not me, not even a bus driver. Police found a car with bus shelter type damage to it's front end a few streets away. It had been stolen by some one who either couldn't drive, not unknown, or some one with a grudge against bus shelters.

Anyway, more later today I promise.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Back home

Back home in Torquay, yes I know this isn't Torquay, did I get a warm welcome? Not a chance.



It was cold,
wet
and windy.

But it is December in England so nothing unusual there.

First thing I noticed was it appeared that lots of trees had been torn down. I quickly realized that it wasn't the trees that had gone but the leaves had been blown away. Autumn had arrived while I was away and done what autumn does best. Make everything look cold and bleak for winter which is just round the corner.






Then as I drove up towards Newton I noticed contractors at the side of the road were pulling down trees and bushes with gay abandon. Coming back down Lymington Road more, even older trees had been cut down. I will get down there one day and find out exactly how old they were, I suspect they were even older than me. They had stood there quietly pulling in carbon in a desperate attempt to save the world for us. Now the have a carbon foot print the size of a football pitch. Then on to Long road where our council are building a business park and even more tree stumps testified to the fact that trees once stood here but now no longer do so. Through Churston on the way to Brixham even more trees had gone. not quite the destruction of the Amazom rain forest but someone needs to form a society to protect Torbay's own little forest before it is too late.





Nothing else much had changed. The 12 and 12A still ran as well as all the other wonderful bus services we run round Torbay. Oh yes. For years we have started our working week on the first day of the week, Sunday. Now, following a European directive Monday is the first day of the week and we have to change. From Christmas. There is a slight irony in that somewhere. Should be a fun time.



One more thing, the lucky winner of the photo competition recently held will be disappointed to know that I have had to change the prize from the one offered. I went to check how much the insurance for such a tour would be. I explained to the man behind the counter what was required. He rolled his eyeballs round in the time honoured fashion, one went clockwise and the other went anticlockwise, I can't exactly remember which did what, then through gritted teeth he sucked in enough air to fill the new Wembley Stadium before pointing out that 'one off' events like this created huge risks and meant massive premiums would have to be charged. He then mentioned a figure that would have made Big Gates, sorry that should be Bill Gates shudder. It certainty made me cough discretely and head for the door. I know there will be a certain amount of disappointment, sorry. The new prize is still a tour but this one is a tour round the Cider Press, the best pub in Fleet Street, in my humble opinion anyway. This tour will be limited to me pointing out where the bar is and going and finding a seat at one of the many tables while the lucky winner buys me a pint. Then, a little later, to make sure I had got the directions right I will make my way to the bar and back to the table carrying a couple of pints. Still later I will give clear, I hope, directions to where the gent's toilet is. And still later I will probably check I had got these directions right by paying a visit to said gent's. The toilet that is. Then even later we will make our way to the exit and stand in Fleet Street for ten minutes and watch 8 buses go by.



The lucky winner by the way is Steve from Brisbane who rightly said Coolangatta. So, Steve, next time you are in Torquay please claim you prize.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Coolangatta Sands

What a difference 18 Months can make. The above photo was taken April 06 and the one below today. It's changed inside as well. It used to be, to quote a customer, a real pub. There were Rugby League Shirts and photos of teams going back to the 1950s that had gone on tour to the UK and the furniture was old but comfortable.

Now it's all chrome and concrete and reminds me of a train station waiting room with a TAB in it. Sorry Coolangatta Sands but you are no longer in my top ten favorite pubs. I am also sorry to say the a couple of pubs in Sydney have dropped out of the top ten for the same reason. Please some one, save the Aussie Pub before it is too late and they all turn into Train Station waiting rooms.

By the way, the last photo was taken from Coolangatta at Point Danger. Sorry Jeff, I was at least 2 feet away from Twead Heads.



Nasty Letter 1 About the Blog


Nasty Letter 1 About the Blog.
About how Christina Ratcliffe mis read a tour of a bus as "a tour on a bus" I was in Australia and took a picture of the Cook Memorial on the boarder of New South Wales and Queensland and offered a prize of a free tour of one of our buses to the first person who told me where the photo was taken.


I was told we don't do "free" at Stagecoach.


It was only when I got the letter after the interview I realized the Depot Manager, C Ratcliffe had though I was offering a free tour ON a bus where as I was offering a free tour OF a bus. A free tour of a bus would go something like this. " This is the door, the big round thing is for the driver to hold onto while going round corners so he doesn't fall out, this is the seating area done tastefully in mostly blue cloth upholstery which is better than the post modern plastic of the eighties. These are the stairs which you can use to go upstairs Etc, etc.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Still On Holiday


Still on holiday, the usual prize of a free tour round one of our number 12 buses to the first person who can tell me where I was standing when I took this photo.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

London Transport in the Blue Mountains

I had a day out in the Blue Mountains yesterday and this bus turned up. London Transport get everywhere. It did have Atlantian on the back.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Stagecoach bus services are wonderful.


Stagecoach bus services are wonderful. I mean on Sunday I got on this 31 at 11 am, the driver asked me where I was going and I told him Sydney and at 9 pm UK time on Monday I was in Sydney.

OK. Ok I did get a National Express to Heathrow and then a Boeing 777 to Singapore and on to Sydney and then a Sydney City train out to Eastwood but the trip started with the 31 seen here. It's warm (24C) and sunny here. I tried to take a photo in the Cactus Garden at Singapore Airport but the humidity was so high the camera lens fogged up.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Going Away

Well it's Sunday morning and I am just about to go down to Cary Parade bus stop to catch a 31 to the coach station on the first leg of a 33 hour journey to Sydney.

Next post will, i expect be from Sydney.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Lost Property?



No need to go to Lourdes for the miricle cure, just get on one of our buses.
Seriously though, how can you get on a bus with a set of crutches and forget them when you get of?

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Bus Queues

A question about bus queues. Why do certain bus queues manage to block the pavement? In some places the queue forms parallel to the edge of the pavement leaving plenty of room for passers by to pass by. But here on the Debenham's side of the strand all the bus queues form at right angles to the pavement and as soon as there are more than 15 people there the way is blocked. It's an X46 they are waiting for, my X46. I hope it gets here soon or the end of the queue will be in the men's department in Debenham's.

Second question. Spot the police car. It isn't one of ours, it has the web address of Sussex Police on the side so either they are in a long distance, high speed chase (not very successfully for all the high speed gear) or the have come along the coast for a day out. Believe it or not there are actually two policemen in the car, which is a Lotus, model not known.
One more duty to do then away on holiday for 3 weeks 2 days. I think I will got to Australia. Having mentioned that, here is a 3rd question. I was looking at the Sydney Train timetables to see how long it would take to get from the Airport to Eastwood where my sister lives and I noticed that the times are still in 12 hour clock when just about every where else uses 24 hours times in bus and train timetables. I just wondered why.

Exciting Days?



Some days are really exciting. Some..... well mundane is the only word that springs to mind. Up to Exeter, arrived a few minutes early, left on time. Got to Torquay 5 minutes late but left on time. Back to Exeter, arrived a few minutes late but left on time. Down to Paignton, arrived 10 minutes late, well there are still road works in Livermead and it was rush hour when I left Exeter. Back to depot for lunch (at 19 05!). Then a round trip on 34. Left on time, arrived on time. Back to depot, cash up, down to main road to catch bus home; but, handy, an other driver was just taking a bus down to town so I got a lift with him and arrive home 15 minutes early. Don't let the Traffic Commission know. Like I said mundane.


Only 2 more days and then holidays for 3 weeks 2 days.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Comments

I have tried to avoid using word verification in the comments section, it makes it harder to leave comments and I love most comments but over the last week I have been hit with over 60 spam comments.

I will remove the word verification it in a few days.

Sorry for any delays in your journey.

David

X46, The Exeter Express.

The conversation with that nice allocations controller went something like this,
"You know the X46 don't you?"
"Yes, just about."
"Good, you're on it next week. OK?"
"Err.......??"

So yesterday I did, for the first time in about 2 years, the Exeter Express. The first trip up to Exeter I did was lunch time. No problem with that. It all looked familiar all the way to the County Town. Actually only the stretch out of Torquay is busy, after Penn Inn it is a duel carriageway with few bus stops all the way. I didn’t pick anyone up but kept an eye one for the stops. I haven’t been there all that often, mostly on the 85, also known as the coast route, a completely different kettle of fish. Then back to Paignton load up and start the trip of back to Exeter but I change drivers at the depot for my break.

After lunch, a school run, Cuthbert Mayne in Hele to Paighton running as a 30B. Only one difficult passenger who got on at Livermead and wanted Tweenaway. I explained that I didn’t go anywhere near Tweenaway so he opted for Paignton Bus Station. When we got to the bus station and all the children got of he was still sitting there demanding to be taken to Tweenaway. He wasn’t moving from his seat till the bus got to where he wanted to go. I told him he could sit there if he wanted but the bus was going to Exeter, then back to the depot for the night and if he was lucky might end up as a 12A the next day and so take him to Tweenaway. He got off. Once more back to Exeter. Not many people on and good time was made up to the Penn Inn Roundabout. By now it was getting dark. I had never been up this road in the dark and it all looked different, especially going through Peamore. I knew there was a stop somewhere but not exactly where. I did notice it as I went past. Only because there was someone dressed in very dark clothes jumping up and down and waving franticly in the streetlampless stretch of road where the bus stop has been placed. Two hundred yards up the road there is a petrol station illuminating the road but not where the stop is. I stopped a 60 yards down the road and a young lady came running up. “I’ll have to get on of them yellow jackets” she said. I nodded and headed on to town.
On the way back I came onto the A380, the road not the airbus, at Kenford. I also knew there was a stop here at the side of the road. Once again there is a petrol station illuminating half of Devon, unfortunately not the bit with the bus stop in it. Again frantic waving and jumping up and down attracted my attention, getting a bus out here is like going to aerobic sessions, and I managed to stop a little distance down the road. This passenger was dressed from head to toe in BLACK, just what you need to be wearing on a dark night at the side of an unlit road when you are waiting for a bus. A bit further down the road approaching Ideford Dip the bell went. This stop is hard enough to see in the day light, no chance here so I asked the bell ringer to come forward and give me a few clues. Which he did. Then on with out any more drama to Torquay, Paignton, the depot and home. Only four more days to go. Then holidays for 3 weeks and two days.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Is This Why The Work Is Expected To Take 39 Weeks

Below is a press release from Torbay Council regarding development of a new business park in Paignton.
We all though it was just repairing the road down to the college. Now it seems it is a little bigger than that. I expect when they have spent 9 months building the business park they will dig up Long Road for a few weeks just to make us feel better.

For Immediate Release
Milestone for Torbay as work starts at White Rock
Work is due to get under way this week (Wednesday 31 October) at one of the most important sites earmarked to drive forward the future economic growth of Torbay.
Builders and highways engineers are starting site preparation and work to build new roads and services as the first stage of a high quality business park development at White Rock, in Paignton.
White Rock will provide more than 40,000m2 of much-needed offices on a new business park which is expected to create 2,000 jobs for Torbay. The start of work comes after the South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) announced earlier this year it would invest £2.9 million to buy land and bring forward the development of initial site infrastructure in partnership with Torbay Council.
Landowner McAlpine and developer Abacus have also committed £3.5million to the White Rock project and it has also received £3.5million from EU Objective 2 funding.
Nisbett of Plymouth have been employed by Torbay Council as quantity surveyors and project managers for the contract with South West Highways Ltd of Exeter carrying out the infrastructure works including clearing and preparing the site and installing new roads and sewers. The work is expected to take just under a year, during which time the developers will be preparing detailed plans for the redevelopment of the site.
James Wilson, Operations Manager for the South West RDA, said: "The start of work at White Rock is a major milestone for a project which has been recognised for several years as being key to Torbay’s economic future.
"White Rock is an important part of our work with partners to unlock the business potential of Torbay by putting in place the right infrastructure to create good local jobs, attract investment and create long-term economic and social benefits locally and for the wider region."
The Mayor of Torbay Nick Bye said: "This latest announcement is fantastic and really puts Torbay on the map with the potential to attract significant investment into the area and provide much needed jobs.
"Torbay needs to embrace new ideas and encourage higher value job opportunities if we are to realise our vision of economic prosperity for the area. This is reflected in the new Mayoral Vision "The New English Riviera" which encourages us to be ambitious whilst also protecting our traditional industries associated with tourism and our beautiful location.
"Once again the RDA has demonstrated its confidence in the future of Torbay and it reflects the strong working relationship that they have formed with the council and local partners."
Cabinet Member Councillor Derek Mills said: "I am delighted work has got underway at this site. The council and its partners have always had the vision that the Business Park would be a great base for private sector investment and enterprise. Now local people can see that things are really starting to happen.
"With the new innovation centres at Lymington Road and South Devon College things are really on the up for Torbay and this latest news is a fantastic boost in our fight to turn the Bay's fortunes around.
"Over the next few months South West Highways Ltd will be preparing the site and carrying out excavation works. It is inevitable that there will be some distruption to traffic in the area during the works and we will endeavour to keep local residents and commuters up to date with the progress and necessary arrangements. I am confident that the long term gain of such a development will outweigh the short term inconvenience and would kindly ask that people bear with us."
The decision to invest in White Rock is part of the RDA’s commitment to supporting economic regeneration and development throughout Torbay and as part of the Agency’s wider agenda, The Way Ahead, which looks at the growth and improvement of the region’s major towns and cities
The RDA has already supported projects such as the new South Devon College, Lymington Road work space and Torquay’s harbour regeneration, with more projects in the pipeline such as Brixham regeneration.
Ends


Photo opportunity
The Mayor of Torbay Nick Bye will be accompanied by, Mike Yeo, Strategic Director for Community Services, James Wilson, RDA and representatives from Abacus at the White Rock site on Wednesday 31 October at 10.30am to help dig the first foundations of the site.



For further information please contact: Nicola Moorhouse, Communications Officer on 01803 208850

Working Shifts

Friday night just before I went to bed I set the alarm clock for 06:41. I had only got home from work at 21:45 so I did a little calculation and worked out that I would have been home 8 hours 56 minutes before I would have to get up again to catch the 07:25 bus to go back to my second home. Lots of people have a second homes down here in the South West, they give them nice names like Dunroaming and Inglenook or Pirates Cottage. Mine is called the Bus Depot, Regent Close. Anyway, in the 8 hours and 56 minutes I spent at home I got changed, had some supper, a brief chat to my partner, watch a bit of telly and set the alarm clock. Then, hopefully a good nights sleep. At 06:41 it didn't really feel like a good nights sleep.


Still of to work, I got there 10 minutes early, if I get the later bus I would be 10 minutes late. I would not have minded an extra 10 minutes sleep but I like being late even less. Because I had a few minutes before going out I was called as a witness. One of my colleague’s name had come up for a random drugs test. No don't worry, the depot isn't used at night by drivers for mad rave parties where everyone parties till the small hours of the morning before going out on the road in an 11 tonne bus. Most bus companies conduct random drink and drugs tests just to reassure themselves that we aren't actually using the depot as mentioned above. Which we aren't. Actually my staying up all night days are long gone, so for all I know there might well be all night parties in the depot. No body has ever told me differently. My colleague tested negative and away we went.



As I went out I wondered if there was a test to see if drivers had had enough sleep. Actually there is. It's called the Red Traffic Light test. You have to stop at a red traffic light and if you don't pull away when they change to green and there are snoring sounds coming from there driver’s cab you have failed. I managed to pass this test OK.


Rest of the day was busy for the first Saturday in November, crowds of people in Fleet street, very sunny and warm.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Photo of a Couple of Police Persons

He should have checked his zip before the photo shoot!


When I went to the Herald Express recently I asked the reporter if I could read through the article before they printed it just to make sure there was nothing in it that would
embarrass either me or the company. The reporter said no, that's not our policy. Now I have turned into a john. I wonder what PC On The Back Of a Bus gets called.

Thanks to Dave at cimba7200.blogspot.com for the photo.




Wednesday, 31 October 2007

A Change Is As good As A Rest.

Well I hope it will be. This morning when I got to work that nice kind allocations officer made it known to me that he would like a word, he shouted, "Hay; you." in my general direction. He asked me if I would mind changing duties next week and as I have a bit of a favour to ask him in a few weeks time I agreed. Turned out I would have agreed anyway as the new duty has no 12As in it. I don't go within 3 miles of Long Road and the road works that are due to start on Monday and as regular readers will know, last 39 weeks. The week after that I am on holiday for 3 weeks so I will miss the first 4 weeks of the fun down at the college. There is a slight drawback to the new duty in that I will have to do a trip on the 34 route. It has been 3 years since I last drove a 34 and there have been a couple of slight changes to the route. I will just have to ask the passengers the way.


Today was Egg Throwing day. Egg Throwing Day is relatively new to England. We certainly didn't do it when I was a boy. Back then if we happened to have an egg about our person we would have eaten it, not thrown it at a passing bus. One bus was hit so many times on the front windscreen the passengers had to be put on the next bus and that bus withdrawn from service. That meant only one bus an hour instead of 30 minutes, a long wait if you are on your way home after a hard day at work. And one woman, who's son had been caught throwing eggs last year said, "It's only a bit of harmless fun." Make her stand at a bus stop for half an hour in the cold with hordes of egg throwing children wandering the streets from egg selling shop to bus pelting point back to egg selling shop and then ask her if it is harmless fun. Look at the photo of my bus. One egg hit the window by the baby buggy space. Baby had been sleeping quietly but spent the rest of the journey screaming after several eggs hit the bus all at once. Also passengers will be looking at that egg for weeks now. Egg, once it sets is very difficult to get off.

And finally; a female passenger, a holidaymaker, asked me if I went to Golden Park. "No." I truthfully replied. "Yes you do." Was her reply. I explained that I had been driving along the 12 route for 9 years and I had never heard of Golden Park so it could not be on the 12 route. I would have come across it by now if it was. So she now asked what bus she should get to Golden Park. I spoke slightly slower with my next reply which was." I have never heard of Golden Park so how would I know what bus goes there?" As she got of the bus she told me and everyone within 20 yards that all the bus drivers in Torquay were stupid. I did suggest she went to Brighton next year for her holidays. Sorry Brighton. Maybe she misheard me and will go to Blackpool instead.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Would you like to drive a bus named after Dolly the sheep?

If you click on the picture you will be able to read this story taken from "On Stage". It's about some new buses in Winchester that for some reason have been named after famous sheep like Dolly and Baa Baa Black Sheep.

On Stage is a company news paper that gets sent to all the Stagecoach Depots every 3 months with little stories like this on in it. We used to get a couple of hundred copies, most (197) of which I took home, after everyone who wanted had taken their copy, to line the rats' cage. The rats have gone now, sadly, and most copies ended up in the bin. We only get a few copies these days. Stagecoach in Devon has been mentioned once, Torquay depot as far as I know has never had a mention. If you know differently you can always make a comment. Or if you have a story send it to me and I will send it on.

All the 12 drivers have been going round all day asking the same question, "What the hell are they doing in Long Road that can take 39 weeks?" I think I will email Torbay Council and ask them.

Pavement Parking

Two more photos from Regent Close, no tickets but the Parking Attendants don't get down here every day.
The above car is in the position as the one seen a few days ago but is over the building line except for half of the back wheel. Not being a PA I don't know if this one would get a ticket or not. The building line is that white strip you can see under the back wheel which means 99% of the vehicle is on private land.
The car below is a candidate for a ticket, In this case the building line is the grass verge, which belongs to Stagecoach.


The driver obviously does not read this blog or he wouldn't park here. Or maybe he was only going to be a minute or two.

Monday, 29 October 2007

A couple of photos, one nice, the other..........


This photo I took while I was leaning on a wall waiting to take over my bus at Regent Close. Sweet isn't he?
Long Road Paignton. I had never heard of Long Rd Paignton 2 1/4 tears ago. Then South Devon College moved there. So the company started running the 12A service to and from the college. The college is at the end of Long Road and coming from Paignton Bus Station we drive down, go all the way round a roundabout and stop and unload students, pick up more students and head for Brixham. 35 minutes later we are back in Long Road where we drop a few students off and pick a load more up and head for Paignton, Torquay and Newton Abbot. An hour and 15 minutes later we get back, drive down drop off, pick up and head for Brixham and 35 minutes later return. We may do exactly the same on the second half of the duty or we may be lucky and be doing 12s which don't go anywhere near Long road.
What I want to know is what exactly are they going to be doing for 39 weeks. Have the council gone so green that they have banned the workmen from using heavy machinery which have a large carbon footprint and are going to do the whole job by hand. Maybe the students who are on studying subjects relating to the road building industry are going to do the job as part of their courses work and they will have to stop every now and then while their tutors come out and mark the work. I know the road surface is very bad and the whole road will have to be dug down to the Roman foundations but isn't 9 months just a bit too long to spend rebuilding a road 20 feet wide and 800 yards long?

I think over the next 9 months I am going to mention Long Rd more than once on these pages.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Parking Attendants Love Cars Parked Like This.

First of all I would, on behalf of NCP and Torbay Council, like to thank the driver of this car for the generous donation of £60.00 which will be divided unevenly between them, NCP getting the lion's share. If the fine is paid within 4 weeks the donation will only be £30.00, but it will still i am sure be just as gratefully accepted.

Now back to why do Parking Attendants love it when they see cars parked like this? Well if you park your car on yellow lines you know there is always a chance that when you get back there will be a little plastic bag fluttering in the wind stuck to your windscreen with a note inside asking quite politely for £60.00; or else! If there isn't, well you got away with it. If there is, well you think of all the times you did get away with it. You still mutter, "Bastard." as you drive away. But park on the pavement, you can't get a parking ticket on the pavement can you? That's what lots of people think. The Law however doesn't think that. Someone who's job it is to write Acts of Parliament wrote down in the Act relating to parking that the parking restrictions indicated by the yellow lines apply from the centre of the roadway to the building line. Wasn't that just nasty of them. They must have had a hangover at the time.

So when the driver gets back and isn't expecting a ticket it will come a a real nasty shock to find a demand for £60.00 on his/her windscreen. It's the thought of that moment of outrage that brings a warm glow to the issuing officer's heart and a faint smile to his face as he lovingly takes photos of exactly where your car is and taps all the right keys on his ticket machine so the legalised begging letter will pop out, if it has been a long day the smile may even broaden a bit at this point as he sticks it where it belongs.

A Question for You.

Which is the longest month in the year?

Now the answer depends on where you live and one other factor which I am not going to mention as it would make the question easier.

Friday, 26 October 2007

This And That From An Average Day

Here's a few of the old little things that have happened in the last couple of days. Nothing big or important but all go to make my job such fun. First I took over a 12A heading for White Rock. It was only 10 minutes late which given the problems we are having isn't too bad. Down the road a little and there was a lady in a wheel chair waiting. Now company policy is to get wheelchair users on the bus if there is space but there were two baby buggies already on the bus, one just slightly smaller than the Moon Buggy and occupying the space where the wheel chair goes. The lady with the buggy told me she was getting off in two stops, Union St, so we got the wheel chair side on instead of facing backwards and I drove down into town fairly slowly. In Union St there was a large crowd of people at the bus stop. Someone must have spread the news that a bus was coming and they had all turned up to get on it. The first person in the queue was a little old lady and she completely ignored me when I asked her to wait a moment while we got the buggy of the bus. "I just stand here out of the way." she said. It was only when she realised there was a serious danger she could get run over while standing on the bus platform did she try and move but by now 5 or 6 other people had tried to get on the bus and the rest were pushing forward. Getting 20 people who have been waiting 15 minutes for a bus to move away from the bus is about as easy as getting Tony Blair to admit Iraq wasn’t his best idea ever. Oh and by the way, the wheel chair and the buggy had some how or other got their wheels entwined and a Securicor van had parked by the right hand kerb leaving about 7 feet of clear road between us. OK for cars to get through but not the number 32 that had meanwhile come up behind me.
By the time the buggy was gone and the wheelchair correctly positioned and the 30 passengers on the bus the road behind had come to a stand still about as far back as Exeter. (21 miles/38km)

Down to the Harbour. We have a gentleman down there when it is busy who takes fares and he had told those wanting Brixham to get a 12, remember, if you can remember that far back I am driving a number 12A going to White Rock. Which isn’t as far as Brixham. So loaded up with 75 passengers we head for Paignton. Via the road works. In a convoy. By now there are four 12/12As all in a line. When I get to Paignton the wheelchair user gets off as do most of the passengers. Now there is a bay for the 12 going to Brixham and a bay for the 12A but by the time I get there they are full so I go on the X46 bay. What a mistake. The X46, which also has to go through the road works is late and despite the fact that there is a foot high sign on the front of my bus with 12A WHITE ROCK written on it in English, the local language round here I spend a couple of minutes fending of people so desperate to go to Exeter they will get on any bus that looks like it will move.

Eventually I make it to White Rock via South Devon College, which is closed this week. At the end of this post there is a photo of special interest to all those good people who will be going to College next week. Taken in Long Rd. I get to the terminus and change the blinds, reprogram the ticket machine and am about to set off when I notice two people are still sitting on the bus. Curiosity took over, “Where are you going?” I ask with a small amount of dread making my voice to waver slightly. “Brixham.” Sorry, don’t go to Brixham. But the gentleman who sold us the tickets said the 12 goes to Brixham. Remember, I am a 12A. I did manage to get them on a bus to Brixham with about a minute to spare. Had they missed that one it would have been a half hour wait.


Back in Torquay I picked up a member of management. So now I have to drive really carefully. (Don't I always). Going up Union St a car pulls over on the right and stops. The passenger throws open the door with total disregard for 11.5 tonnes of bus driven by someone who a moment before had believed the space now occupied by a few kilograms of flimsy metal, ie a car door was a safe place to drive into. Passenger sees me coming and also sees sense and removes the door from this place of extreme danger with about 2 feet to spare. At least I would have had a reliable witness.


Photo taken in Long Road by South Devon College showing, guess what? Got it in One. An optical illusion which just happens to look like Road works.

There's more, much more....... . . . . . . .

To be continued.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Still Running Late

A couple of comments about our road works at Livermead. First, I can not understand why a firm of contractors have been employed to carry out this important, major road works for British Gas when they actually only have a work force of three people. OK. They may have more but over the last 2 weeks since the lights went up I have driven past the 6 holes in the road 42 times and have never seen more than 3 work men actually doing any work. Well; to be truthful I did see two gentlemen in yellow jackets holding a large piece of paper and scratching their heads as they turned it round a couple of times to try and work out if the holes in the road had even been dug in the right places. But under their yellow outerwear were business suits so I don't believe for one second that they were about to pick up a shovel and start digging. Talking of picking up a shovel the work is scheduled to continue until Christmas Eve. The Mayor, Nic Bye has been invited to attend and will, with a specially gold plated shovel (I did say we were talking about shovels) throw the last few grams of dirt into the last hole before helping to throw the temporary traffic lights onto the back of a truck. He will then cut a ribbon draped across the road and declare the road "Open at last."

Second (remember I did say a couple of comments), why haven't the local council, Torbay Council, put up signs well before us poor drivers get anywhere near the road works saying, "Delays ahead, please use alternative route." It isn't as if there isn't an alternative route. There is. If there is a strong East Wind blowing around the time of high tide then this road is closed due to the 30 foot high waves that inconveniently come crashing over the sea wall and threaten to drown any passing motorist. So there is an escape route which is clearly sign posted that car drivers could use which would not help them much as it takes 20 minutes to drive through but it would make it easier for us bus drivers who have to go through the road works. I timed how long it took to get from Oldway Mansion in Preston to the traffic lights today, 21 minutes. Usually about 5. That's a lot of wasted time. Still not long till Christmas.

Nothing to do with the road works, Paignton Bus station at 3:45 this afternoon. It's usually a bit busier that this. I wonder where all the buses are?

Tickets and Tides

We have a variety of tickets here in Torbay, some are day tickets and some for a week, month or year. All have a date printed on the ticket which shows when it expires. All period tickets get looked at carefully by me to make sure the passenger hasn't overlooked the fact that his/her ticket is no longer valid due to the fact that the ticket is now no longer of any use for travel on the bus and is now just a worthless piece of paper that should be disposed of in a litter bin somewhere. Throw it on the floor of the bus if you like, we employ a dedicated band of bus cleaners who's only aim in life is to turn a messy bus into a shinning, clean bus for people to travel on the next day. But please don't show it me. Like I say, I do check all dates and I even get nasty looks of some people when I do, as is I were questioning their honesty. I wish I didn't have to check the damn things so carefully, it would make my life much easier if I could look and see the passenger had a ticket in his/her hand and just wave then on to the bus. But of I did then the person who boarded the bus last night with the ticket below would have continued to deprive the company of revenue and the fares would have had to go up for everyone to compensate.

The passenger wasn't happy when I took the ticket of him which suggests he was planing to use the ticket again even though I had pointed out it was grossly out of date.

An other photo taken while waiting in the queue of traffic at the roadworks, it was only a few minutes to high tide which was fortunate. Had it been two hours to high tide and the sea coming over like this then the road would have been closed to add to our problems.


Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Chaos On the Twelve Route

We had a day of near chaos today. Everywhere I went I was running late until well after 8pm. When I went to catch the bus to work at lunch time 3 buses turned up at the same time. When I went down to the main road to take over a bus on the way to Newton it turned up 20 minutes late. One of the buses that arrived at the stop while I was waiting for my bus stopped to let passengers off, we're good like that, even when we are running really late we don't just open the doors and shout, JUMP loudly. The driver told me he was running half an hour late. All during the afternoon the radio was alive with drivers reporting how late they were and Yellow Control trying his best to manipulate buses where he could to try and get some order into the growing chaos. By the end of the afternoon Yellow (Paignton) Controller was answering the radio with, "What now. Please go away." This was worse than a rainy day in summer.



The reason, as usual, road works. We have to ongoing set at Livermead on the main (only) road between Torquay and Paignton, these are here for 10 weeks which should take us right up to Christmas. Every time a bus went through this gas pipe laying excerise it lost 10 minutes and in a day a bus may have to drive along this road 6 or 8 times so you can see why we were all down for most of the day. Add to this the 3 way traffic lights at Torbay Hospital, the council truck parked on the Strand all day putting up Christmas decorations and an other truck that arrived in the main road through Paignton in the middle of the afternoon to also put up premature decorations AND the fact that it is half term, always a busy week in any holiday town and you can begin to understand why one controller said it was the worst day he could remember. And he had been controlling for years and years.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

100 years of public transport in Torbay.

I had a day of today so it was a nice day so I went and watched the rugby team play. Much better that a couple of weeks ago when they didn't win a single scrum. This week they were playing Newton Abbot and both teams play well with the score ending up 25 pts all. All the coaches need to do is get the scrum half to pass the ball a bit quicker.





After the game and a pint in the club house I went along to the bus rally being held today to mark 100 years of public transport in Torbay. The photo below shows the oldest and newest buses that were on display next to each other. The double decker Trident seen here in Devon General colours will be used for a while on the 12 route here in Torquay. It isn't all that old, 10 years or so. It will be interesting to drive it, no one will want to get on with it not being in Stagecoach colours..





More photos from the rally click here and on the side bar(Photos). Not many captions, sorry.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

From the Herald Expess


Click on the picture to read the writing, I am not sure who this John Banks is though, maybe I have gone incognito.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Stagecoach takeover rumours

From The Times
October 18, 2007
Traders fuel Stagecoach takeover rumours

Stagecoach was yesterday the subject of takeover rumours among traders, sending the group’s shares up 6.84 per cent. The stock rose a surprise 16¾p to 261¾p and was the fifth-biggest FTSE 250 riser, as traders said that there was talk of bid interest, without citing possible buyers.

I have never been in this position before, working for a company that may be about to be taken over.

Well like all workers in this position I will just have to wait and see. At least my 317 shares have gone up by over £51. Now lets see; what shall I spend it on?

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Life Saver; that's me.

Nothing dramatic I should point out, before you get your hopes up for a desperate dive into a raging sea type story or even an open heart massage on a passenger who had succumbed on the upper deck. Nothing like that but just as life saving. Well I like to think so. What happened was this; I was coming out of Brixham this morning driving a 12A. They only run every 30 minutes from Brixham these days so it's a long wait if you miss your bus to the college. I had stopped to pick a couple of passengers up at the top of New Road. The stop is 50 metres before the lights at Monk's Bridge. The road there is a long bend with overhanging trees and bushes and you can not see too far ahead. The lights were on red and being a careful driver, and in no hurry I stopped. after a few seconds a young man who looked like he was on his way to South Devon College came out of a side road on the right and stopped at the curb. He saw the bus and looked hopefully at me and gestured in a way that suggested I would be his new best friend for ever if I opened the doors and let him on. At this point he was on the right hand pavement and standing less than 5 metres away from me. I immediately and vigorously shook my head to indicate that he had about the same chance of getting on the bus as Tony Blair has of getting an invite round to afternoon tea. None what so ever.

I learnt my lesson about opening bus doors at traffic lights over ten years ago. A dear sweet little old lady she was, walked up and knocked on the door. I wasn't going anywhere what with the lights being on red and it was raining and I had only been a bus driver about 3 weeks so I opened the doors, she got on and smiled sweetly and said, "My husband is just coming only he can't walk too fast." She was right, tectonic plates move faster than he did. By the time he got on the lights had changed about three dozen times and I had almost brought West Acton to a stand still all on my own. Then she shouted at me for moving of before she was comfy. Never again.

I've gone of the subject, where was I, Oh yes; the end of New Rd and the young man standing on the right hand pavement. He looked disappointed and started to mouth something in my general direction. What it was I have no idea because just at that moment round the bend came a 38 tonne HGV (1)and he must have been late for his deliveries because he had his foot down. The wind created by his passing make the bus sway. Think what would have happened if I had opened the doors and waved the hopeful maybe bus passenger across the road. Instead of waiting 30 minutes for the next bus he would have been heading for Brixham at well above 30 mph pressed up against the front radiator grille of a Juggernaut feeling a little more than very sorry for himself.

Footnote 1. Not the one that was feature on Monday's post.
Footnote 2. I was going to include a photo of Monk's Bridge taken earlier but it wouldn't download.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Oh My God

I have just looked at what time I am out tomorrow. 06:25. I'll never make it. I'll have to be up at 05: 45 and it must be 5 years since I have been up that early. Two alarm clocks by the bed might just wake me up. But will I stay awake? Big question. Still, the rotas are going to change again in January and I only do this duty once every 3 weeks and I am on holiday in November when I will be going somewhere warm. So with any luck I will only have to do this duty twice more.

Blowing My Own Trumpet


Here is the headquarters of our local newspaper, the Herald Express. I was down there today for a brief interview and photo shoot. No, sorry, I haven't discovered a cure fore some obscure tropical disease. Nor the fact that worrying about us all ending knee deep in plastic bags is a waste of time as a giant asteroid, the size of 10 double decker buses (all with number 12 on the front) will hit Torquay next Sunday afternoon at 3:27, well it might for all I know. Nor was I down there to explain my fiendishly cunning plan on how to get the Mayor Nic Bye to actually talk to anybody. No, my humble blog has finally come to the attention of the local press. I have so far been mentioned in the Independent, the Guardian and the Western Morning News and once got an invite to appear on BBC TV. That was too much bother so I declined. But soon, when they can find the space the Herald Express will give me a mention.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Manner from Heaven

I was just staggering out of work this evening exhausted after a long, hard day sitting behind the power steering wheel of my automatic bus which also has electrically assisted air brakes when I suddenly believed in God.
Because look what he sent in to our bus park here in Torquay!
Or are the company trying out a new type of fuel?
Or have the cleaners won the Lottery and haven't told us?
Or are the company planning a suprise, early, Christmas Party for us?
What ever; the driver was able to turn round and get out before we had managed to off load
a few samples.

Child Tickets

Child explorers, available to anyone under 16 cost £4.00 and can be used on any Stagecoach bus in Devon. Just thought I would mention that before I start.

Anyway, on Sunday I was up in Newton Abbot waiting time. the bus pictured below was also there and as I had 8 minutes I took a few shots. Then back to the bus to load up my passengers, of whom there were three. The rest of the bus station was as deserted of human life as the far side of the Moon. Which is usual for Newton abbot bus station on a Sunday. The three waiting passengers were all teenage boys and the first showed me an explorer ticket. The seconded pretended to look for his ticket while the first boy passed his explorer over to the third boy in a way I have see done more than once or twice before. Do they think we have never had this happen before. The first two then hurried upstairs while the third boy then went through the process of looking for his ticket which he found in due course. Funny it had been folded exactly the same way as the first ticket I had seen.

So I followed him upstairs to where all three were now sitting and asked to see their tickets again. As we all expected they only had two explorers. There was a third ticket but this was a child return to Teighmouth costing £3.35, should have got an explorer. Child return was OK on the 85A but not on the 12. I gave them the option of paying but they decided to get of. All this had taken about 3 minutes which put me a minute late for departure. Not too much of a problem except that from a deserted Newton Abbot 6 more passengers had just beamed in. While they were getting on another 8 or ten arrived. I managed to leave 6 minutes late. So if your bus is sometime late this is one of the many possible reasons.

As I pulled out of the station the human population went back down to Zero.



A Plastic Bag

Two photos of the same plastic bag. It is hanging out there in the wind and the rain and the sun and the frost in my back garden. The first photo was taken on the 21 September 2007 (070921) the autumn equinox. I will continue to take photos of this plastic bag every three months on the equinox and solstice until either the bag rots or I do.


It is a little disheartening to realise this humble plastic bag will probably last much longer than me.







The second was taken yesterday 14 October 2007 (071014), the day before Blog action Day. Not much sign of deterioration yet


Meanwhile click here to see what people around the world are doing to try and make sure that this plastic bag is amongst the last 10 trillion plastic bags ever made.


Fact; The world uses over 1.2 trillion plastic bags a year.



That's 1 200 000 000 000 in round (mostly) numbers.


Or 1.2 times 10 to the power 12.



Or 1000101110101100100101110000000000000 in binary number.



That's a lot how ever you write it. So even if we stopped making plastic bags in 5 years time that would mean there would be 6 trillion MORE plastic bags to bugger the world up. That's a 1000 plastic bags per person on the planet, compared with one Kalashnikov per 60 people or one car per 2 people (in the UK) and that isn't counting the 50 trillion plastic bags already in existence. Do YOU need a thousand plastic bags? Where would you keep them all? Oh yeah, in some land fill site the size of Devon. Though hopefully not in Devon if you don't mind. Or maybe we could take them all out to some redundant North Sea Oil platform and push them back down the pipe to where they came from in the first place and in 60 million years they would have turned back to oil. Recycling in the long term and a grand scale.




Oh yeah, don't for get as well as plastic bags, of which I have 27 in a cupboard in the kitchen, shame on me, there are plastic bottles out there in their trillions.





This photo shows just a few of the 2 million plastic bottles used in the US every 5 minutes.


Please note I am not having a dig at the US, it was just a meaningful photo.


To see all of the 2 million bottles and 60 000 bags used every 5 second all in one place click here.





Photo by CHRIS JORDAN.



So what can we do about this and other problems that Blog Action Day is highlighting?



Lots! I am sure, if you have clicked on the links above you will have plenty of ideas like the people of Modbury in the fair county of Devon who have banned the plastic bag. Even if you think this is a bit too much then here is one idea of how you can help.


At the lowest level you can reuse your plastic bags again and again for years. How? when you go shopping take some of the couple of dozen that are in the kitchen with you so the shop doesn't need to give you yet an other pile of plastic bags that you will probably fill with rubbish to take out to the wheelie bin. Most plastic bags only get used twice. Once to bring the food home from the shop and the 2nd time to take the rubbish to the bin. Re-use your plastic bags instead of throwing them away.

Final comment. What WILL we do about it in time to save the Planet? Nothing. Well not quiet nothing. We have in the last 40 years managed to get rid of CFCs, leaded petrol and fitted catalytic converters to cars but we have also pushed hundreds of animals species off the planet and thousands more about to follow, possibly (probably?) including us. So when, not if, the environment collapses and mass extinction takes place, what then?

Am I sounding pessimistic by the way? I prefer to think I am a long, long term optimist. What! The human race wiped out along with the tiger, blue whale, the cane toad, oak trees and blue bells as well as all the domestic cats in the world optimistic?

Well, that is where Mr Charles Darwin comes in. He will go round for the next 65 Million years evolving and one day some scientist will announce to the world that there is a layer of material all over the planet, all dating back to 65 million years ago. This material does not exist naturally on Earth so a giant meteor the size of Manhattan made of plastic must have hit the Earth all those years ago wiping out over 95% of all living things.

Clean up the environment or.................................

Think long term like me.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Timetable Changes (Slight)


Here we have two 12/12A timetables.

One appears to be dated only the 30 September 2007 and also appears to be torn in half, that's because it is. So why tear a 2 week old timetable in half. Because when the new times came out at the end of last month there was a change to the running of the 12A. Half the 12A s coming from Newton didn't make it as far as Brixham, they turned at White Rock. This had the effect of reducing the number of 12A s leaving Brixham to one every half hour, enough during the day but it was quickly noticed that people going to South Devon College in the morning were being left behind with a wait of half an hour for the next 12A. A big chunk of the first lecture of the day over before they got there. Not a good way to impress your tutor and pass exams. Which is why they were trying to get to College in the first place. So the company have acted with commendable speed and put on an extra 12A out of Brixham in the morning. Hence the ripped up out of date two week old timetable. Please note if you have a timetable dated the 30th September please don't tear it up and storm our Travel Shops demanding the new timetable, there are only 2 changes and unless you want to go from Brixham to the college at 08:06 or from Paignton to the College at 07:45 (which no longer runs) the changes will have no effect on you what so ever. But the company did have to print new timetables and the man who puts all the timetables on the bus stops had to do the rounds once again and change them all.



There is a little mistake on all those timetables on the bus stops. Once again please don't let it worry you. It does say, "With effect from Sunday 15th October 2007." If they have got the day right then the year is wrong. The next time there will be a Sunday 15th October will be in 2017. Even a forward looking company like ours don't look that far forward so perhaps they have got the day wrong. But we always start out new timetables on a Sunday so I guess the date should read the 14th.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

A Day Off.


Day off today and the sun was shinning and it was warm and pleasant so I went out with the camera. First stop was Abbey Gardens Beach where there is work going on on the sea wall to prevent Torquay from being washed into Torbay. Now when I was a young child and we went down to the beach we used to build sand castles and defend them, unsuccessfully, from the incoming tide. But we just used buckets and spades. Surely using heavy plant is cheating.
Then on the bus to Brixham. It was full, standing room only all the way to Paignton. But expertly driven. Then there were road works in Churston, going in wasn't too bad the queue of traffic only went back 100 metres. Once we got through the road works I felt sorry for those poor sods going the other way. A couple of kilometres at least. (Sounds longer that a mile and a half.) But I wasn't going back for a few hours. I had a little trip up to Berry Head planned and I needed to catch the number 17 which was a few minutes late fortunately or I would have missed it. It's the first time I have been on a number 17 so I had to ask the driver to give me a shout when we got to the best place for the mile long walk to the headland. Felt like a grokel.
Anyway it was a pleasant walk round with lots of photos, see album on the side bar. Everyone up there seemed to have a dog except me, I'm a cat person but my two cats don't go in for long walks in the country which shows how sensible cats are compared with dogs.
On the way back into Brixham I planned to catch the 17, but didn't quiet get there in time. Got a good photo of it vanishing up the road though. Then a sad little episode, just as I came walking wearily into town I passed a lady standing at a bus stop. She wanted to go up towards Berry Head, as I went past she asked me were there any buses running, as if I should know. I looked at the timetable and decided that the bus was running a few minutes late and given it was 4:30 that was not unusual ( no Comments, please. I don't drive Brixham locals). She had been waiting 20 minutes and was ready to start walking even though it was a long way. I advised against that but of she went. I headed on to Brixham and as I walked round the next bend we all know what turned up. Yep, the number 17; always happens.
Back to work tomorrow.


Some of the almost wild life up on Berry Head.