Wednesday, 28 February 2007

A Little Baffled To Day

Normal sort of day, rain with the odd dry spell but should get better by weekend. Well I went into Newton Abbot about 11.15 this morning and a lady with a County Wide pass got on and asked for a ticket to Brixham. As I was driving a 12A I advised her to catch the Number 12 that was right behind me as it took the shorter route to Brixham. She assured me that she was in no hurry and didn't mind the longer journey. An hour later when we got to Paignton there was a 12 heading to Brixham at the stop next to us. I had a few minutes waiting time in Paignton and after the 12 had gone she came up to me and asked if I would be in Brixham before 1 00 pm. I checked the running board and told her that we would arrive in Brixham at 1 00 pm. This concerned her and I told her that the next 12 would get to Brixham 15 minutes before me so she went and waited for the next 12. If she had got the 12 behind me in Newton as I suggested she would have been in Brixham by 12 30. Then a couple boarded the the bus, he said his wife had the tickets, she pulled out a purse that had more compartments than politicians have excuses. After spending what seemed like several eons searching all the compartments for the said tickets he started shouting at her for loosing the tickets and stormed of the the bus and down the bus station, probably heading for the nearest pub. She went after him like a hyena after a wounded wildebeest. What was baffling here you ask? In one of the searched compartments in her purse were two County Wide Passes, both of which she opened and I could see one was hers and one was his. All they had to do was show me the passes and tell me where they were going and two free tickets would have emerged from the ticket machine at a speed close to that of light. But they wouldn't have any truck with that idea when I suggested it.

A bit later on I was heading out of Torquay towards Newton. As the route goes past Torre Station the road becomes two lane up to the lights at Shiphay Lane, then 30 yards after the lights it narrows down to one lane with the vehicles in the outside lane moving into the left lane. There are always those who use this spot to engage in the non-Olympic sport(1) of 'Getting in front of the bus no matter what the risk.' They come up on the outside and continue on the outside even though they have long since past the point they should have moved in. Now to get in they will have to force their way in by forcing me to brake hard or crash into them. Most points are scored by the drivers who go the furthest past the point they should have moved in, extra points are scored the harder the bus has to brake and bonus points are awarded to those who risk £25 000 cars that only came out of the show room yesterday. Anyone one a 20 year old Transit Van is ineligible for bonus points. Discretionary Bonus Points would most certainly have been showered generously on the driver who past me there to day. Not only did he make an almost record distance, as well as pressing fairly firmly on the brakes I also turned the wheel and ended 2 inches from the curb, his 9 seat people carrier was brand spanking new and for the extra points he had his wife in the front seat, 3 children in the middle row and baby and grandmother siting in the back row. Maybe he doesn't like them. What really baffles me about this sport at this spot is 2 things. 50 yards further on is a bus stop. When I stop, all may pass safely (maybe that's too tame). And if I didn't stop at the bus stop, 200 yards further on a stretch of dual carriageway where all but drivers of milk floats may pass the bus with complete ease (too easy?).

Next came 2 minutes later. As I approached the stop at Cadewell Lane I could see that there was no one at the stop and no one had rung the bell. As I got nearer to the stop I was aware that mother and two children were trying to cross the road on the right hand side, they were a 100 yards away when I first noticed them but there was traffic coming towards me preventing them from crossing. No one behind me so when I had gone they would have a clear road. They were a traffic hazard, you never know, one of the children could suddenly decide to run for it. So I kept an eye on them. It was only as I went past did mother decide to tell me she wanted the bus by putting her arm out. Sorry; no chance. Five seconds sooner, arm out, me pulled up at bus stop, them cross road, get on bus. Now I know that from her point of view it was obvious she wanted the bus. Why else would she be crossing the road near a bus stop. I know that now but as I approached, she was crossing the road to get to the other side. Remember as you drive down a road half the Universe is on the left and the other half is on the right. My bus is such a small part of the Universe and my ego isn't so large as to think that with half the Universe to choose from you actually want me. If you do; Please put your hand out.

The last thing that baffled me today was how come I always seem to spend 10 minutes waiting in the fuel line when I bring a bus into the garage in the evening.

None of these thing baffle me as much as Quantum Physics, but a few years and countless hours of study and I might begin to see the light at the beginning of the tunnel re Quantum Physics, the above; No.

Foot Note (1) The reason it isn't an Olympic Sport is because there would be just too many competitors.

Monday, 26 February 2007

Customer Care doesn't always work.

A few days ago I was on my way to work as usual. There I was at the bus stop in Abbey Rd waiting patiently but with hope for a 12 or a 12A to whisk me up to the depot to start work when He and She, She pushing a baby buggy, arrived at the stop. He looked at the time table but I could tell he wasn't really understanding what he was seeing. I have heard time tables described as getting the most information on the smallest amount of paper(1) and if you are not used to them they are as incomprehensible as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Reading time tables should be on the National Curriculum. So I asked them where they were going, Customer care skills don't shut down just because I haven't signed on. Brixham came the reply but it did sound like f*** off. Never mind. "Go down the hill to the pedestrianised street, past Tesco's to the phone boxes. There are two bus stops there, you want the second. You should get the 12, not the 12A as it takes longer. And if you are coming back get DayRider tickets." I could tell he wasn't really listening and then he asked what was the point in going down a pedestrianised street. Buses can't go down there. Well they do. The alternative is Belgrave Rd and that would be far worst than going down Fleet St. "How come you know it all?" he demanded. I pointed at the Stagecoach logo on my anorak (no comments please, I know I am an anorak). "Trust me on this. I drive a bus."

Anyway, of they went down the hill towards Fleet St. They hadn't gone 50 yards when a 12A came up the hill. Fine for me but no use what ever for then. So what does he do when the bus stops to pick me and other passengers up. He comes running back up the hill towards the bus with baby buggy being pushed desperately some way behind. I shrugged my shoulders, it was another bus drivers problem now. "Wait." he shouted as he boarded the bus. "My wife's just coming." I'd gone and sat down by now, I'm out of it.

Wife was half on the bus with buggy when he asked the driver if the bus went to Brixham. The driver said, truthfully,"No." and started to tell him exactly what I had. He didn't bother to listen to the full instructions but turned to get off the bus almost tripping over baby in the buggy but still managing the proclaim loudly what everyone on the bus already knew. "We're on the wrong f****** bus."

I got to work and went about my job in my usually cheerful, content, happy way putting the incident out of my mind. Until that is a few hours later I turned up in Brixham driving a 12A. And guess who was there waiting for a bus. Right in one. He gets on and asks for two singles to Torquay. Now didn't I tell him to get DayRider tickets? Two DayRiders are £8.00, four single tickets to and from Brixham works out at £11.20. still more money for the company so whats the problem. Well there are two problems about travelling on this particular bus to Torquay. The first is it takes about 20 minutes longer than the 12. That alone is enough reason to wait for the 12. The second is that on the particular trip I was about to make I usually picked about 35 students up at South Devon College and then about 45 school children from Paignton Community College. Actually the children are generally very nice and better behaved than the students but they have just come out of school and tend to be a little noisy. I explained the first problem but was told, "We just want to get back to Torquay. This bus goes to Torquay?" So I admitted that it did and sold him the two singles. I am sure they enjoyed the trip as much as they enjoyed everything else they had done that day.

I should point out that incidents like this are rare; which is probably why I remember them.

Footnote (1) By Mr. C. Hilditch MD.

The Good Old days

I have been going through some old style photos over the last few days and transferring them to the computer. One of the ones I found was this which I took in, I think, about 1999 on Brixham Bank Lane. It is a Volvo B6 which carried 50 passengers, 20 of them standing. They were moved to Exeter by the previous Managing Director who had come under some pressure to provide bigger buses on one of the routes there. They were still there last time I went to Exeter but that was over a year ago now. We, the drivers were not best pleased when they went as we got some old bangers to replace them, double deckers though, which could carry 90 passengers.

The present Managing Director, Mr Chris Hilditch who arrived in late 2002 didn't hold out much hope that we would get new buses any time before the next millenium. He did manage to persuade head office in Perth that we, the drivers not to mention the passengers could do with some new low floor buses on the 12 route, and the Tridents we are presently using arrived in March 2004. Still not sure if these Tridents are going to be replaced yet, after all they have only done 150 000 miles so far. We will just have to wait and see.

One little foot note, on the bus shelter there are some white screens to provide some shelter from the wind and rain. They were removed some time ago, (not by me!). I had forgotten about them.

Sunday, 25 February 2007

What is this Aircraft Carrier Doing in the Bay?

"Hydrofoil One to Orange control."
"Go ahead Hydrofoil One."
"Hydrofoil One. I am heading for Brixham. Could you get on to the War department. They have parked a bloody great aircraft carrier right on line of route. Looks like I am going to be late again."
Seriously though, we often get ships sheltering in the bay in bad weather or just waiting for instructions, but this aircraft carrier is a first as far as I can remember. Maybe the government have secret information about a revolution about to start on the south coast and just want to be ready.

Saturday, 24 February 2007

What happens if.......?

What happens if the £4 million ferry boats don't turn up on time and the company decide to go ahead with the service anyway.

My thanks to an artist (unknown) who put this cartoon up on the notice board at work.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007


Well yesterday I took the plunge and said we were getting new buses, Enviro 400 's and expressed a hope that the security screens would be the sliding type. Someone at work who talks with a loud voice and so must know what is happening said I was wrong about them being 'New'. We are getting previously owned buses from Manchester and the screens are fixed. I think I will wait until they turn up and then post a photo or two.
The photo above was taken on one of our new buses, a low floor single deck Dart. Taken last year in September, I was traveling passenger not driving. They don't let me near the Torquay Local routes any more. Very modern, very quiet and smooth ride, unlike some of the older Darts which can be noisy, bumpy and uncomfortable.
Road works on the sea front reared their ugly head to day, coursing a few delays but we cooped, we almost always do. Mind you, it is half term so no school runs to slow us down. Had a near miss at the lights at the road works, as I approached they turned to red so I braked gently to stop. Suddenly there was a screech of tyres desperately trying to keep their grip on the road as the van behind, the driver of which had expected me to keep going as the bus was hiding the traffic lights from him. Maybe he thought we had all been driving slowly for the last half mile for the fun of it.

New Buses

It would seem that we are to get new buses down here in Torquay. I have had no official confirmation personally but enough people have said we are so we must be. The aging Trident that we have had for the last 3 years are going to Exeter and we are getting Enviro 400 's like the one pictured here at Ringway Airport last year. If you click on the link it takes you to Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 question and answer page and shows a 400 with entrance and exit doors which I hope we don't get down here. An other thing I hope we don't get are fixed security screens. All buses have security screens now adays. Most of our existing fleet have sliding screens which we leave open almost all of the time and us drivers like that choice. One or two of the fleet have fixed screens and we all feel that they come between us and the passengers and make life a little harder and in some cases passengers feel aggravated by the screens. In other words they can course more trouble than they are worth. Also I hope the electro-magnetic retarders that are fitted to the buses to aid braking are not as sharp as the ones fitted to the Tridents. They were sharp and took some getting used to. Oh yes, bigger water pumps would be a nice idea. We are having some over heating problems with the present buses.

Oh yes; I missed a couple of words out of the end of my last post:- at 28mph. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Coaches on Bus Stops

If you go on a coach holiday and want to get left behind when the coach comes to pick you up from some out of the way tourist attraction in the middle of a blizzard in the middle of Dartmoor with the nearest taxi rank a ten mile walk away then call the driver of your coach a BUS DIVER.
Try it some time, maybe he will beat you half to death with his coach drivers manual or tell you all the toilets are closed when you really need a pee; and then drive past 10 motor way service stations saying, "Sorry, don't like the food there. The one in 200 miles is much nicer."
But isn't wonderful how they suddenly become bus drivers when they need to park some where in the centre of town and all that is available is a bus stop?

Monday, 19 February 2007

No Change, No School Run and a Speed Trap

Today I started on the Harbour and went to Brixham. I had thought I was going to Newton and went round to Cary Parade but realised in time and made it back to the Harbour stop in time. Anyway I got to Brixham and had a short wait before I was due out at 10:16. I loaded up about 10 passengers and was just about to go when a lady passenger came up and said that she had changed her mind and could she change her ticket from Paignton to Newton Abbot. This takes only a few seconds but it did make a bit of a difference to the next half hour. While I was changing the ticket a few more passengers arrived at the bus. These people would have missed me if I hadn't been changing the ticket. They all wanted Dayriders at £4.00 and they all paid with ten pound notes. Getting a bit short of change here. First stop up the road, one passenger, dayrider please, sorry I only have a tenner. I am now down to using 20 pence pieces, 30 of then to provide the change. Three people at next stop. All have Devon County Wide OAP passes. God bless Devon County Wide. Then running up just as I was about to pull away a five pound note for a £2.30 fare 70 pence in ten pence pieces, £1.85 in 5 pence pieces and 15 pence in copper. That's me, not a single coin of any description left. I had sold £42.75 worth of tickets but had £65.00 in notes. My float all gone.

I was heading for Paignton Bus Station, there should be a driver or two on their lunch with a bit of change to spare. No chance, too early for lunch. And there was a queue about a mile long. Most had Devon Wides and enough had the right money, some with a little prompting and a young girl got on and wanted a return to Torquay, £2.30 and was sorry but all she had was a pound in 5 pence pieces and the rest in 10 s and twenties. I gave here a nice smile and told her not to worry.

Later in the day I got to where I usually pick 50 school children up. Not a single child in sight, it's half term, isn't that nice. Half a mile futher down the road I was going down the hill in the Totnes Road, nothing in front of me and I went through a speed trap.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Daffodils by the Harbour, Debt in the Bay

Not the first daffodils I have seen but the first I managed to photo whilst I was waiting to take over a bus on the Strand. Paignton and Brixham are just about visible in the background. Talking of Brixham a little news appeared in the local paper that might be to do with Brian Souter's visit here this week. The council have announced a £5 million plan that is still in the pipeline for a new fast catamaran ferry service linking Torquay and Brixham. Which Stagecoach hope to run. I have heard that it will take 8 minutes to make the trip to Brixham against 40 minutes on the bus. Handy if you are in a hurry.

We, that is Torquay, were on the BBC 24 Hour News to day. It would appear that there is a worrying amount of debt in the area, a lot more than the national average. The program came from the Pavilion which adorns the Sea Front/Harbour area. There are those who hope to turn it into a Casino. Torbay Council have recently won the right to open one of the new smallish casinos that the government are to licence up and down the country. It is obviously hoped that all those people in debt can come into the casino when it opens and win enough money to pay off all those credit and store cards which amount to a large part of the debt. What a great idea. Good luck to them.

Been quiet on the buses again. Be even quieter next week; it is half term so no lovely school runs to look forward to.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Change of Bus

The above bus is a Dart not a Trident. Normally Double Decker Tridents are used on the 12 and 12A routes but the other day the bus I was supposed to take over had a small problem with the starter motor and I had to use this bus instead. OK, it's still a bus you say. But having a single decker instead of a double decker does have it's problems. The first being that passengers waiting at bus stops look at the bus as it appears over the horizon and loose interest. Their bus should be a decker, this isn't a decker so it isn't their bus. So I stop, open doors and shout, "This is a 12A. Going to all the places a 12A goes. Don't be shy.Please get on, just don't try and go up stairs."
Second problem is the Tridents have a system which, at the press of a button the air in the front nearside suspension is expelled with a hiss and the floor lowers, making it easier for people, especially elderly or infirm people. This bus has two or three steps, making it slightly harder for elderly or infirm to get on and impossible for mum to get the baby buggy on. Fortunately only one baby buggy tried to get on, this mum had gone out and bought the biggest buggy she could find, only slightly bigger than the Moon Buggy that the Americans left parked on the Moon. (Or did they?). But all was well, she wanted Waterside and the 12A doesn't go to Waterside.
Third problem, passenger gets on, "Been under a low bridge then."

Visit from the boss

Brian Souter, boss of Stagecoach UK came down to Devon this week. Rumer had it that the visit was either to shake hands with all the drivers and give then a cheque for £1000 each for doing such a wonderful job or that he was interested in running the ferry service from Torquay to Paignton. I don't know much about this service but someone at work told me that it had recently, or was about to, stop running. Anyway I don't have a cheque for £1000 nor have I shook the hand of the boss of Stagecoach UK so I guess it was something to do with the ferry service. I have serched through the 3 major newspapers, The Times, The Independent and The Herald Express but I can find no referance to his visit. I will keep you posted but if this blog changes it's name to ferry driving then that may be a clue as to where the visit ended up.

On the subject of keeping you posted, I ran an item about notices being placed in a spot on the buses that created a blind spot. It would appear that they have not been placed there by the usual employee who looks after notices on buses and the timetables on the bus stops and such like. A harder job than bus driving I can assure you. It seems some bored driver decided to practice his interior design skills during the quieter moments late at night. Well if you are reading this sir, or miss, or madam; you are not very good at it, prehaps you should take up suduko or bring a good book to work with you.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Two Vans in the Way

The photo, which I took on a day off last March, shows one of our buses passing two vans, one van is parked on top of the other and is advertising a local firm that sells vans. These vans have been parked here for longer than two years. What doesn't show on the photo is that where I am standing to take the photo is half way round a bend. What it does show is the bus coming towards me is over the white line in the centre of the road. What it also shows is the car in front of me has had to move into the cycle lane. Good job there wasn't a cycle there. Often, going the way the bus in the photo is, a car or HGV would come the other way round the bend and have to move suddenly to the left to avoid the bus or the bus would have to brake hard to avoid a head-on. Going the other way we would just drive in the cycle lane to avoid having to take sudden action to miss what may be coming towards us. After spending most of the last two years parked here and causing a major traffic hazard the vans have finally been moved. The local council, god bless the local council, have made this section of 'No Waiting' between 8 am and 10 am and between 4 and 6 pm. The council workers actually came down one day last week and painted yellow lines in the roadway while the van was still there; hopefully there was a parking attendant following them with his note book in hand.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Everyone else got snow, we got fog.

The bus I caught to work vanishing into the mist. It had cleared by the time I came out to drive.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Rain Stopped Play

I went down to the Torquay Rugby ground this morning to watch the Under 9 team play (Sponsored by Stagecoach Devon and the Belgrave Hotel). As you can see there was a severe lack of activity, no throwing around of odd shaped balls going on any where. Mind you, there had been a lot of rain over night so I wasn't too surprised.

I managed to upset a couple of passengers the other day and I wasn't even on the bus. I had gone down to the Newton Road close to the depot to take over a 12A coming from Newton. The bus was due at 15:55 so I had arrived at the stop 4 or 5 minutes before it was due. 3 or 4 minutes later a number 12A arrived at the stop but it wasn't mine; it was the bus in front of mine. The driver told me that the Newton Road through Kingskerswell was 'chocker', a usual state for this road. All roads have a point where they will grind to almost a halt due to volume of traffic, the Newton Road seems to reach this point a lot more often than most roads in the area. (Please note HM Government, please give us a by pass round Kingskerswell). So I sat down expecting a long wait for my bus which would now be an other 15 minutes. I wasn't disappointed in my expectation.

While I was waiting two people came out of Regent Close and began walking in the direction of the bus stop. Please note; walking towards a bus stop does not mean that you want the bus, putting your hand out does. They were 30 yards from the bus stop and one of them looked round. there was a bus in the distance and I had stood up in the hope that it was mine. No chance, as it got closer I could see it was a 12, I was after a 12A. So I sat down again, a sure sign that I did not want the bus. The two people were still walking quiet slowly in the direction of the bus stop, apparently without a care in the world. Until the approaching bus went by the stop at a steady 29.9 mph. Then and only then did they give any indication that they wanted the bus and then by swearing, loudly, I guess in Polish.

What I assume had happened was they saw me at the stop and expected the bus to stop and pick me up and they could have wandered up and got on the bus after me. Now the next bus should be the one I was taking over and due any minute. But the traffic on the Newton Road can come to a stop at the drop of a hat, especially at school run time when mum goes out to pick the kids up from school in a 4WD that is only slightly smaller than a bus and my bus took an other 12 minutes to arrive. And it was a cold day with a driving wind and steady drizzle with the 3 of us huddled in a stony silence in a very small bus shelter.

Moral of the story; if you want a bus then tell the driver. You can do this by concentrating very hard and thinking, ' I want the bus to stop.' over and over again until there is a danger that your brain will start to dribble out your ears in the hope that the bus driver is a mind reader.

Or you can put your hand out.

PS I am not the only driver who has problems with passengers not indicating that they want the bus, read busdriver jimmy for his account of the problem.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Notices and a Blind Spot

A few days go I mentioned here about notices that were being put on the buses advertising our services and atractions. No problems with this as such, just where the notices were going. There is a glass screen behind the door. Only a few of the buses had these notices placed here but really none of them should have as they created a blind spot in certain circumstances. Anyway all buses going out of the depot tomorrow are to be checked and any such notices are to be removed. By order of the depot manager. I wish I could say it was the power of the blog but it wasn't. It was the power of a simple little thing call a Drivers Report Form. We all have a book containing 50 of these forms and we can use them for simple little things like requesting a change of a day off or a wage query or a change of duty or as in this case something we are not too happy about. I handed one of these forms in yesterday (Thursday) morning when I went into work, as did at least one other driver and it worked as it should and all the notices will be gone tomorrow.
Now, I wonder if asking for a pay rise will work just as well?

Thursday, 8 February 2007

No snow and no changes

Well here is sunny and snow free Torquay this afternoon. Before I came out to work I listerned to reports of airports and schools closed and long delays on roads and railways but down here we have a climate all of our own. Shame I like snow, for about an hour, and it is a long time since I have seen any, unless you count when I was in Australia last March. That was on Cradle Mountain in Tasmania and was a few miles away; probably doesn't count.

Then I watched the 10 O Clock news and expected to see raging blizzards sweeping through the Midlands. Two inches, that's 5 cms, covering the ground. Still when you are not used to it that 2 inches can be like some glacier in the Antarctica that Scott and his party faced on their way to the South Pole.

When I got to work today I had hoped that the changes would have been made to the two fare stages I mentioned. No chance, I will keep you posted but remember, "It is not a case of when, but if."

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Flat Roof

At home we have a small section of flat roof. Some years ago it started to leak so I went up and painted it with a compound used on oil rigs in the North Sea to repair leaks. On the can it did warn the it was a repair and would not last for ever. Well it lasted 5 years before the rain came in once more. So this time I decided that the job would have to be done permanently, well as permanently as a flat roof can be fixed. It cost about 5 times what the house probably cost back in the early years of the last century when it was built and is expected to last 40 years. Any way we have been waiting for it to rain to make sure it is working. As I type it is getting tested fairly rigorously as it is raining cats and dogs and there is a semi gale blowing. Snow is also a possibility tomorrow which would be nice, so long as it doesn't hang about like it did in1963. I have almost forgotten what snow looks like

Tuesday, 6 February 2007


This is the bus stop I get off at when I am on my way to work. It has only been in this position a few months and there used to be a grass verge where the bus stop now is. When the council put the stop up they also put a slab of concrete down so passengers would not have to step from the bus onto the grass. But this slab was only about a foot square. Today as I tried to get of the bus the slab was occupied by a woman trying to get on the bus while I and a few other passengers were trying to get of and she would not move. Eventually pressure from behind forced me to gently push my way past her and I decided that when I got into work I would mention this problem to some one at managerial level and see if they could get the council to extend the concrete slab. But some thing else came up and I forgot. But it would seem that some down at the council offices is a mind reader because when I got back down to the stop there they were extending the slab. You can see the barriers in front of the bus waiting time at the stop. I took the photo from the cab of a bus on the pointing the other way to the one in the photo, both of us are waiting time and the photo clearly shows the problems motorists have with the position of these two stops.

When I did get into work the assistant operations manager was there and I asked him about a recent renaming of a fare stage. He explained the problem and I took the opportunity to ask if a couple of other fare stages could be renamed. These changes concern a slight but annoying problem with how some fare stages are displayed on the ticket machine. Torquay Railway Station is fare stage 37 but the display is only big enough to show Torquay. Fare stage 34 is the centre of Torquay and Torquay also appears on the display so it is possible to be in Torquay and sell a ticket from the railway station. An example of this is someone wants a ticket to Torre, fare stage 31 so you punch in 31 press single and then issue. A ticket comes out and you ask, politely, for 60 pence. Because you have sold tickets to Torre thousands of time there is no need to look at the display to know the fare. But because you have read Torquay on the display but not noticed it is for fare stage 37 you are unaware that the ticket is for £1.40. A loss to the driver of 80 pence. If four people had got on then the lost is £3.20. A second change I asked for was Paignton Zoo, fare stage 116 to be changed to Zoo so as not to confuse with Paignton Bus Station, fare stage 44 but both display Paignto. I know the n is missing but the display is only big enough for 7 letters. A line was drawn when I wanted Windy Corner renamed WC.

Monday, 5 February 2007

New Buses

There is a rummer going round the depot that we are shortly getting some new buses. Now in the first 5 years I worked there this news would have been greeted with much interest as the only new buses we did get were in actual fact second or even third hand, they were just new to our depot. Over the last 3 years our Managing Director Mr Chris Hilditch has brought in dozens of new buses for us to play with. So today when I went into work and was told one of the new buses was outside and that I should go and take a photo of it I wasn't that interested. To me a bus is a bus provided it has powered steering and an automatic gearbox and a comfortable seat. Well I don't think this bus has powered steering or an automatic gearbox. Didn't sit in the seat but I am sure it is comfortable.

Number 43

It is a 1962 Leyland PD2/37 and is in the colours of Halifax Corporation. I did ask if it was going to be repainted in Stagecoach colours before it went out on service. I think the answer was No!


I took 5 or 6 photos, if you are into buses and would like copies of these, or any other photos that appear here email me and I will send them to you.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Do I Need to Know About Dart Explorers?

Emerging from Cherry Brook Drive on to the Dartmouth Road is a bit tricky. Dartmouth Road is a duel carriageway with not a enough room in the central reservation to fit the bus and you end up at an angle. So to see what is coming from the left the driver needs to turn a little and look through a side window. Car drivers in the same situation would look through the rear side window. However as you can see Someone has placed a notice in the bus advertising the fact that we sell Dart Explorer Tickets. Good value too if you like a bus trip followed by a boat trip along the River Dart which rises on the world famous Dartmoor, home of the prison built to hold French prisoners of war. Not from the 1939/45 war, they were on our side then, but from the Napoleonic Wars some time back in the 19th century. I digress; this notice as you can see from the photo is just in the line of sight to prevent the driver of the bus seeing if anything is coming up the Dartmouth Road towards the bus. Good work, Someone.
What makes it worse is the fact that because this notice is in the doorway no one will ever have chance to read it in their rush to get on or to get off the bus. Someone out there isn't helping.

Friday, 2 February 2007

Duty 3611

Duty 3611 is a fairly easy duty. It starts on the Strand in Torquay goes to Brixham when not many people want to go to Brixham, leaves Brixham after anyone in Brixham who wants to go any where else have already gone and goes to Newton when everyone who wants to go to Newton has already got there. Then back to Paignton for an hour long break. Then a quiet run to Brixham. I leave Brixham at 14:36 usually with 2 or 3 people on who have been doing a little shopping and they get of just up the road. Real quiet duty.

Then I get to South Devon College and the work starts. In the next hour I certainly earn my money. About 30 students get on heading home after a hard days studying. Then down through Roselands and Tweenaway Cross as the late afternoon traffic is building up to Paignton Zoo where I pick up about 50 school children from Paignton Community College. They are all about 12 and 13 and mostly very nice and polite but that many children all together on a bus can make a lot of noise. School runs going to school in the morning are usually very quiet as the poor little darlings contemplate the next 6 hours of enforced learning and when all they would sooner be playing computer games or chicken on the motorway. Anyway the bus is full by this time so the rare pleasure occurs when I can ride past a stop with people waiting for the bus without having to stop.

About 300 yards after I have picked the children up there is a Junior school and the road is partly blocked by a line of 4 wheel drives as mother comes to rescue their little darling and save him/her the rigours of walking home or worse still getting the bus home. Still it gives mother something to do. It also is the biggest single cause of traffic congestion in the known universe.
Now I did this duty yesterday, Thursday and a nice surprise awaited me. Usually it is a tight fit getting past all the 4 wheel drives and the increasingly impatient oncoming drivers of company cars anxious to get to the last business meeting of the day and white van drivers desperate to make the last delivery so they can be home before rush hour starts and the late mother looking manically for the last parking spot so little Tracy wont feel abandoned as all her friends are whisked away in some gas guzzling 4wd off road vehicle about half the size of the bus. The only time these vehicles go off road is when mum parks two nearside wheels on the pavement because if she didn't she would completely block the road and even she isn't that daft. Err, I might modify that later.

Anyway, back to the surprise. There were lots of police there, moving mother on and the road was clear so I, in one vehicle could move 90 people instead of mum in 90 vehicles could move 90 people. Nice.

Went back today. The police must have been required else where or they don't know the meaning of persistence as there was the usually line, half on the pavement and half on the road and all the usual drivers coming the other way, all who have but one idea. Get through before the bus. Even if they kill some one. As I drive, sorry squeeze, past I harbour a secret hope that one of the mums will decide to test the strength of her door against a bus now weighing 16 tonnes with all the people I've got on and open the damn thing. No such luck so far but one can live in hope.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Why wont this bus start?

Now and then I have a little moan about drivers leaving engines running when waiting time. Some drivers will not switch the engines off when at a terminus or waiting time and I can not understand why. After all it is just a case of turning a switch and the engine stops and when ready to go again turn the same switch and the engine starts. Maybe I get upset about this problem because years ago I lived across the road from a bus terminus and every now and then a bus would turn up and the engine would stay on. There in the background it would thump away getting louder and louder every second, building up to the point where I was just about to get the baseball bat out and go and smash a few expensive bus windows just to make a point. Then the bus would drive away. In the end I rang the bus company, Selnec for those with longish memories. I was told that mine was not the first complaint and a notice would shortly be going up instructing drivers to switch off the engine when waiting time and would I ring and let them know if any drivers didn't switch engines off. The notice seemed to work.

Since I became a bus drive I have remembered the times when the bus engines would drown out the TV and have always switched the engine off when waiting time. I have asked drivers who don't, why not. The most common answer is, "It might not start again." My answer has always been, "So. You get half an hours extra rest while the fitters come out and get the bus going again."

Today I got my half hour's extra rest. I went into Paignton Bus Station and had 3 minutes to wait so switched the engine off. (Note; this also helps save the planet as well as all those expensive windows) Time to go. Well the starter motor turned but did not engage. Fortunately there was an other bus in 8 minutes so the passengers did not have to wait too long. Sorry to those who did have to wait though.

It is the first time in well over two years I have had this happen but I will still continue to switch the engine off when waiting time. It did inconvenience about 20 passengers but leaving it running can upset everyone who lives within 50 metres of a bus terminus up to 100 times a day on a busy route like the 12/12A.

PS I only wish it had happened at 3pm instead of 11am. I would have missed my school run, don't you just love school runs?

PPS Werther is still traveling on the bus.