Sunday, 29 April 2007

Marks and Spencer's Bus

This is, as you can see the M&S Bus. All done up in it's own distinctive livery. Looks smart. Most of the time it drives around South Devon picking up passengers and carrying them, for free, to and from the Willows, the shopping complex just outside Torquay. I use the word complex very loosely as there are only about 6 or 7 shops there, one of them is Marks and Spencer's. In the evening when it is not being used for this purpose it acts as a spare bus but it is only used if there are no other buses available. This situation occurred on Saturday and I was the poor sod that had to take it out as a number 12. I say poor sod as the most important piece of equipment on this bus, and any bus for that matter, is, sad to say dysfunctional. No, not the brakes, not the steering or the gears. Not even the engine. But the seat! The adjustment is almost none existent. It would move backward and forward, but only as far as the average tectonic plate moves in a week, and as for moving up and down, don't even try. It was too low for me, it felt like I was sitting in a hole, it was so far back I had to lean forward to turn the wheel. Enough to put you off wanting to drive the damn thing? I expect so, but there is one last problem. The padding in the seat had been removed, probably by the Spanish Inquisition. Ten minutes in that seat and you would confess to anything, after half an hour you start to look forward to being burnt at the stake. Finally, after whining like mad and annoying all the other drivers and control for a couple of hours an other bus came available and the M&S bus was parked in the garage for the night where it belongs.

I know I wasn't going to mention the Young Farmers again but the news from Kent prompts me to ask, Young Farmers or Earthquake? Looking at the damage and reading the stories of people caught up in the earthquake I have to say; "Come back any time you like." to the Young Farmers. Next week if you wish, no problem.

Biker Notice

The Newton road between Torquay and Newton Abbot is a two lane, single carriageway, 40 mph road. It is one of the busiest roads in the South West. Just about everyone agrees that we need a bypass round Kingskerswell, shown in the picture. Even David Cameron, that well known cyclist and also believed by some to be boss of the Tory party thinks we should have a bypass. The Department for Transport agree we should have a bypass but every time we ask for the money, they ask us to do a traffic count as the last one we did is now two years out of date. So the traffic count is done at great cost to the local councils and the send the figures sent off to the Department for Transport who also agree we need a bypass but unfortunate there isn't any money available, please ring back in a year or two. When we do they say yes but your last traffic count is now out of date, could you do an other one. The process then gets repeated every two years. The money we have spent so far on traffic counts would have paid for half the bypass.

Anyway the only way to go fast on this road is to believe that 5 mph is fast or buy a motor bike. Some of those who have chosen the latter now believe that doing 80 mph on blind bends 3 feet over the double white lines while overtaking a line of vehicles is the fast track to immortality. If having a bunch of flowers tied to a lamp post at the site of your accident is immortality than go for it. In order to be seen to be doing something about this problem the local council (Devon C.C. I think) have erected this and similar notices along the road. What the notices should say is, "Bikers, Please be aware that there are car drivers ahead who have been stuck on this road for hours and might suddenly decide to open their car doors and get out and have a picnic to pass the time. So watch out." or, "Bikers, There is an other idiot just like you coming the other way 3 feet over the double white line overtaking a line of slow moving vehicles, travelling at 60 mph and he just may be driving a bus. So watch out."

Saturday, 28 April 2007

More about the Young Farmers.

Well today went as expected. The pubs in Fleet Walk and around the Harbour were doing great business from about 11 am on. As the afternoon wore on the groups got a little louder and a bit more dafter. The usual trick is to walk with back to a bus for 20 yards or so then suddenly turn, see the bus, act surprised and jump for their lives. It's not even remotely amusing the first time it happens and after go 20 it is getting close to the point of slamming the accelerator to the floor and claiming justifiable homicide. The other trick is to suddenly walk out in front of a bus knowing we are not going to run them over. But braking hard even at 5 mph can throw an elderly passenger off their seat. By 5 O Clock they all seemed to have had enough and had gone, possibly back to their hotels to eat. It was about this time the police turned up to ensure public order was being maintained.

Now the question is this. They arrived yesterday and started drinking instantaneously till sun rise this morning, then they started drinking again at 11 am and are out there now (12 mid night) still drinking. They are here for a conference. When exactly is the conference going to be held as the are going home tomorrow. OK. I know there are only 3 items on the agenda; 1) How to screw as much money as possible out of the EU farm budget. 2) Do you need a condom when having sex with ewe know who? and 3) the perennial favourite, Is it safe to share a sheep. That's share by the way, not shear.

Anyway I have a day off tomorrow (Sunday) so unless there is something big to report, no more about the Young Farmers till next year; hopefully to report that they aren't coming back. Ever.

To take your mind off the YFs, here is a nice photo taken some where in Torbay.

Young Farmers Arrive.

They started to arrive in town about lunch time and by 5:00 pm there were reports of YFs chasing after buses in Fleet Walk and trying to lift the engine covers at the rear of the buses. Maybe they are missing their sheep already.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Miracle Cure?

I was waiting at the lights in Brixham when a passengers came up to me and announced that he had just found a walking stick on the back seat of the bus. Two seconds later the controller in Paignton asked all 12/12A drivers to check their bus for a walking stick. The passenger was waiting in Paignton to be reunited with the stick. I was a 12A and as such would take me 45 mins to get back to Paignton. There was a 12 in front of me on the stop in Brixham and he would only take 20 to get to Paignton so I past the walking stick on like a relay runner passing on the baton.

Question is, how did the gent, who needed the stick to get on the bus manage to get of the bus without it.

Are our buses the scene of a Miracle? Will crowds flock down to the West Country in the hope of a cure?
Will we cope?

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

How do I get to Tesco's?

One way streets and pedestrianised walkways can make the giving, and, more importantly, the remembering of directions, a trifle difficult in town centres. That the above request. I was waiting time on Cary Parade in the centre of Torquay to day when a man boarded the bus and said he would like directions to Tesco's Metro store. I asked if he planed to drive there or walk. This baffled him for a moment, "What difference would it make," he wanted to know.

"Well sir, if you are driving then you need to follow this road round to the right and at the Clock Tower roundabout you need to go all the way round and come back the way you came. Drive along the road you can see the other side of this central reservation to the next roundabout where you should turn right, the second exit. Follow that road until you reach the traffic lights, not the pedestrian lights but the traffic lights. Turn right there, taking the road that is at a right angle to the one you are on not the road that doubles back on it's self. Go up there to the next lights and turn right again. At the next lights go straight on. After that the road goes down a hill. At the bottom of the hill follow the road round to the left, you can only go to the left but it is now a one way street but you need to be in the right hand lane so you can take the first road on the right. That is an other one way street but stay in the right lane as you need to turn right at the bottom. Now you need to get in the left lane as you are going to take the 3rd turning on the left. Still with me sir? You should now be in a road with lots of shops on both sides. If you aren't then you have gone wrong some where and you should stop and ask someone. Anyway, next lights turn left but take the road to the right as soon as you have turned. Nearly there. Follow through until you come to what looks like a roundabout but it isn't actually a roundabout. As you go round you will see Tesco's on your left but there is no where to park. There is only one road you can take from here, Abbey Rd. Drive up there. There are some one hour parking bays on the right. You should find somewhere to park there but don't be to long or a Parking Attendant will stick a £60.00 F.P.N. on you car they are very keen round here. Should take about 15 mins. Got all that?"

A slow nod, a second or two to think. "What if I walk?"

"Oh that's dead easy, first left, Tesco's is at the top on the right. Can't miss it. Take about 2 mins."

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Paignton Bus Station

Paignton Bus Station isn't very big. The buses drive on to their stop and then after letting everyone off and on, they reverse off. Problem is there is a fairly large garage in the way. This didn't present too much of a difficulty but now we have more buses going in and out of the station and we are using longer buses which have less room to swing round. Here the driver and controller examine the slight damage done to the bus after it had made contact with the garage wall. They didn't bother looking at the garage wall. With all the marks it would be hard work to know which one had just been placed there.

Plan A is that at some time soon, that's soon in human terms not tectonic plate movement terms, the Bus Station is going to be pulled down and rebuilt. Or maybe Plan B, which is let it fall down and then rebuild it.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

"I'm sorry. I have nothing smaller."

This is what people sometimes say when the present you with a twenty pound note. Usually I answer, "It's not a problem." Unless it is the first person to get on the bus in the morning. Then it is a problem, It is even more of a problem if I am on the 09:33 number 12 from Torquay Harbour. Generally I carry between 20 and 25 pounds in change, a mix of 5, 10, 20 and fifty pence pieces and about ten pounds in pound coins. This is usually enough but not when the first person on the bus wants a single to Paignton for £2.05 and therefore requires £17.95 in change. Most of my change gone in an instance.

What I used to do in this situation would be to give the customer £7.95 and ask then to get the remaining £10 from me when we get to Paignton. But on the 09:33 run to Paignton it is unlikely that I will take 10 pence never mind £10. The reason is it has just gone 9:30 and the free bus passes* can be used and I am the first bus out of Torquay they can be used on and I know there will be free bus passes* at every stop between here and Paignton and even though I will carry 40 passengers or more the £2.05 will probably be the only fare I will take.

Today was slightly different, as I was counting out the change, I had exhausted the pound coins and the fifty pence pieces and was most of the way through the 20 pence pieces and could see I would have to get down to the ten pence’s, a family of 5 boarded the bus. Mother was holding 3 five pound notes and has seen what was going on and was waving them about, “Are these any use?” She wanted a family day explorer, £16.00. The change was spared. Some times the gods do smile on bus drivers.

The photo is of the Clock Tower on the old Town Hall. It gets wound up every week but the council have discovered holes in the roof that could let rain in that may get in the electrics and the volunteer winder could be electrocuted and might sue the council. So no one may wind the clock up until the holes have been fixed. So the clock will come to a stand still some time this week. A bit like Torquay.

* Not free at all. Some one has to pay for it and it's not Gordon Brown. Mean sod.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Death on the Road

From the BBC

Over 1.2m people are killed in road traffic accidents around the world each year, according to a report.

Figures from the World Health Organization and the World Bank suggest another 50m people may be left injured by crashes annually.

That's one person in every 5000 world wide will die in a road traffic accident between now and next April 20th.

In the UK that figure will be one in 17000. To put that an other way, five of the 90 000 people who attend the Wembley Cup Final this year won't get the chance to next year.

I just thought you might like to think about that next time you are out there on the road.

Drive safely.

Look what the cat dragged in.


11:00 - 19 April 2007
The Young Farmers will be back in the resort next week for their annual conference bringing an estimated £2 million into the Bay's economy.
More than 3,500 delegates from the National Federation of Young Farmers are expected for the three-day convention which starts at the Riviera International Conference Centre on Friday April 27.The visitors will be tucking into food sourced from the South West as they debate meaty topics such as climate change and food and tourism among other topics.Tourism bosses say the conference is an important boost for the Torbay economy and will ensure tourism businesses continue the great start to the season they enjoyed over Easter.

The above is from the local paper. Below is from me.

The Young Farmers were here 4 years ago and the 3 days they spent here were memorable for their attempts, successful in a lot of cases, to lowering the tone of the place and just about everyone said NEVER AGAIN. They were here last year and their behaviour was much improved after strong warnings but some hotels are still refusing to take them in and after several incidents on buses around the Bay I wish I could refuse to carry them.

But still, cash is what matters.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Irate Would Be Passenger

To day was a fine day, warm, dry, sunny and Duty 3614. The thing I like about Duty 3614 is it only lasts 6 hours 20 mins. Nothing was going to get up my nose today. It was just too nice. Even when I turned up at the depot on Newton Road on time to change drivers so I could go and have my well earned break, I had been out driving for all of 1 hour 52 mins, and my relief driver wasn't there waiting, I didn't get upset. I just got on the radio and let control know what was happening and they sorted it out in their usual style. The relief driver turned up 7 mins late, I just smiled and went for a lie down.

Second half was almost over when a would be passenger got on in Abby Road. He wasn't irate when he got on but he very quickly became irate. Me, I just smiled all the way through the incident, it was one of those moments that makes this job so wonderful. When the passenger got on he politely informed me that his ticket was an explorer, which was a good job because he passed it in front of my face at the sort of speed boy racers go through amber lights, the world champion speed reader could not have read the details on the ticket it went by so fast. He also couldn't have read them because my hopeful passenger had his fingers over most of the ticket. Now I have never seen anyone try this trick before (well not for a week at least) so it took me about a nano second to come to the conclusion that perhaps this ticket wasn't exactly what this muppet claimed it to be. I called him back and irateness began to surface. "What do you mean? You want to see my ticket. I just showed you the f**king thing."
"Well kind sir", I smiled. "Show it me again, please." Politeness doesn't cost anything. He did. It had yesterdays date on it and it wasn't even an explorer. Just a single that most people throw away when they sit down. "That's what the bus driver gave me" he claimed. I haven't heard that one for at least two weeks. "Please sir, get off the bus." was the trigger to total irateness. Language I haven't heard for at least a month issued from from this no longer would be passenger's mouth that would have made a nun blush, unfortunately no nuns on the bus. For some reason he called me an Afgan, can't work that one out. Me I just smiled and thanked him for his kind words and as I shut the door I expressed a wish the he should, "Have a nice day." I really meant it too, I'm kind like that.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Excitement on a Day Off

A day off doesn't always mean a visit to the pub. Some times it's a stroll round town taking a few interesting photos. Like this one in Fleet Walk. Actually I was sitting in a pub, The Cider Press, having a quiet pint. Across the road from the pub there are some shops and reflected in the window of one of the shops I could see what appeared to be a disturbance outside. So I grabbed the camera and went out to find that one of the security personnel from the local Tesco had detained an alleged shoplifter. Mind you when I spoke to the security man later he missed out the word alleged. He can be seen here holding the suspect down while using his radio to call for backup, or maybe the police. He didn't actually look like he needed much backup. A job well done with the minimum of fuss.

After that I went back in the Cider Press to finish my drink.

The Cider Press

Monday, 16 April 2007

Speed Ramps and Flashing Of Lights

This is Union Street in Torquay, a busy shopping street. Also one way. The big red thing is a bus, the car on the left is a taxi parked on a taxi rank the bit in the road where the passing stranger is crossing is a speed hump. Union street has 6 such humps. You can also see Union Street is not the widest street in the known universe. So today I was driving down there more or less in the same position as this bus. I was doing about 10 mph as the pavement on my right was full of pedestrians, one in particular had come to my attention. She was pushing a baby buggy and looking like she was going to cross the road. Now one problem that does happen is mother, who would scream hysterically if she heard that a pedophile was living anywhere within a 100 miles of her precious child, will still push buggy and baby into the road before looking round just in time to see an 11 tonne bus squash buggy and contents. So careful watch and foot on brake peddle. Giving her and buggy all this attention meant I wasn't really watching the taxi at the front of the rank. I knew he wanted to go as the right indicators were flashing but I am still in an 11 tonne bus that would make a mess of his shinny new taxi if he pulled out in front of me. Now one thing is we tend to drive with our headlights on and I had just gone over a speed hump which makes the bus go up and then down and this looks like I have just flashed my headlights, which in this country is used as a signal saying,"You can go." Taxi pulled out. Lady with buggy had looked round, seen me approaching and stopped at the curb. Taxi driver realised I wasn't stopping and stopped. Space between taxi and buggy 9 feet. Bus, 8 feet 4 ins wide. Close.
The moral of the story is if you park on a taxi rank in a street with speed humps and it appears that some one has flashed their lights for you to go think about waiting for a moment or two just in case they didn't flash their lights. Or Torbay council could move the speed humps some where more useful like the local land fill site. Or we could all do as the Department of Transport would like and stop flashing.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Three Buses in an Hour.

First bus, I couldn't adjust the steering wheel and it was in a very odd position so control provided me with an other bus. That smelt a bit old, like someone had been sick and it hadn't been cleaned as well as it should, so a third bus was produced. Good job it was Sunday and there were plenty of spare buses lying a round doing nothing. Rest of the day was quiet, lots of passengers but little traffic on the road. Anyway here is a photo of Torquay Harbour I took a few days ago.

One little piece of news I came across in the local paper is that the Brixham Park and Ride will be running again this year from the end of May. Isn't that nice.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

A Cold, not just any cold, My Cold

We have landed men on the moon, half the planet watches colour TV, people in Australia, Asia and America can read this 10 seconds after I press the PUBLISH button at the bottom of the page but we have no cure for the common Cold. At work on Wednesday I started sneezing. Not on the customers, that would be bad business practice, giving them all colds so they didn't travel by bus for a few days. Thursday was a rest day and even thought I felt wretched the sun was still shinning so I went for a walk and took a few photos, including this one of an ad on the back of one of our buses. More about this photo in a day or two.. The I went for a beer which did no good what so ever. Thursday evening even worse despite taking every miracle cure there is for the common cold. Friday I got up half an hour before I had to go out to work feeling not very well at all. Almost rang in sick but two problems with that idea. One; no work no pay and two; we have, as do many large organisations a system for measuring time employees spend off work sick. Each time you are sick you get points. Too many and ......... well I am not actually sure what happens then. So far I have managed to avoid amassing any points and no one has ever completely and clearly explained the system to me and it's consequences. Not sure why. So even though I wasn't 100% I went to work. I hope I managed to avoid sneezing over anyone but if you were on my bus on Friday or Saturday and you now have a cold I am sorry. Saturday I felt a lot better, maybe Lemsip does work. I am thankful the cold arrived this weekend, it was much quieter than last week( Easter weekend). I am not sure I would have managed, we were very busy, a fore taste of the summer to come.

One passenger boarded the bus to day and presented me with a DevonWide free bus pass issued in Torbay. These are no longer valid as they have been replaced by the Around Torbay free bus pass. I explained this the the passenger who protested that she knew nothing about the change. The local paper has been full of almost nothing else for the last month. She then protested that she had used the pass that morning without any problem. Oh dear, thought I. One of my colleagues not being as observant as he should be. She then produced the ticket she had been issued with on her trip into Torquay, sigh of relief, it was a FirstBus ticket. She had come from Paignton on an X80 which is a service not run by our company.

In the summer Torbay council open a field on the way to Brixham as an out of town car park and we provide, at a special fare, transport to and from the centre of Brixham. There is a special bus stop at the Park and Ride but it is only used when the car park is operating in July and August. So people know it isn't a bus stop the rest of the year the flag with BUS STOP printed on it is removed from the pole, the pole stays where it is. So, unfortunately does the bus shelter. As does the writing on the road way, the writing that says "BUS STOP". But like I say the flag has been removed so people will know that A) It isn't a bus stop or B) Some one stole the flag.

There was a Saturday afternoon car boot sale in the field near this out of service bus stop and there were people standing at the bus stop watching buses approach, whiz by and vanish into the distance as we have been told we can't stop there to pick up passengers unless the Park and Ride is operating. Should we stop, open the doors explain why we can't pick them up, tell them where the nearest bus stop is, close the doors and drive away? Or drive past, shrug shoulders and smile sadly at them? Or a solid, long lasting notice placed in one of the lower basement rooms in the Town Hall for any to read explaining the situation clearly. There is clearly a communication problem here.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Around Torbay.

Before we had free bus passes for pensioners we had the Devon Wide scheme which allowed holders of Devon Wide passes to travel for half fare after 8:45. As you drove along after 8:30 there would be little groups of old dears stood at the bus stops hoping the driver would let them on a few minutes early. I am a hard sod and never would. Them came the free bus passes and the time they could be used became 9:00 and the little groups of hopeful old dears would start forming at 8:45. I still wouldn't let them on. On pass holder wanted to get on at 10 to nine and when I wouldn't let him on he complained that he would be late for work! He did get invited to get on the bus but only if he actually took some money out of his pocket and bought a ticket. He decide he would sooner be late for work. What an excuse that would be when the boss asked why you were late for work, "The bus driver expected me to pay my fare. I am sorry but I now expect the tax payer to do that for me."

Now under the Around Torbay scheme the time is 9:30. Yesterday I took over a bus on the Strand at 9:33 and the first 20 people who got on the bus were freebies. There was also a comment I heard over the radio from the driver of the 22 service that runs in Brixham that he had a full standing load and was leaving people behind. If I leave behind it isn't much of a problem, there will be an other bus in 7 or 8 minutes. If the 22 leaves behind it is 30 mins before the next bus. It would appear we have two morning rush hours. God knows, but doesn't care, what's going to happen next April when this free bus scheme become Nation Wide.


Recently the local police came under fire for not doing enough to stop attacks on our buses by yobs who thought it a neat idea to throw bricks at buses, namely our number 2 service that runs through Paignton. Six weeks ago, following an attack in which a driver was lucky to escape serious injury the number 2 service was withdrawn after 6pm. Yesterday it was reinstated on a slightly different route. On it's first evening run some idiot ran up to the bus whilst it was driving along the road and kicked it. Now this can be dangerous, if you misplace your kick you could end up with your foot under the wheel arch and get it trapped and be dragged along the road. The driver may be startled by the attack and take evasive action which could end up putting the bus and passengers in danger of a collision with a vehicle coming the other way. Or there may be a policeman sitting on the bus and a police car following the bus and you could end up getting arrested. While most of us would, if we had the choice vote for the wheel arch option, we had to settle for option 3; the policeman on the bus with backup following and the arrest of the kicker. Taken away screaming no doubt. Well done and a big thank you to Devon & Cornwall Police. Keep up the good work.

For the full story click here or for the full story and other stories from our local paper click on the side bar where it says Local Paper.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Jumping to Conclustions

Not my fault, well not really, it was the bus's fault. Or to be more exact a fault on the bus. I was up in Newton Abbot just about to go when 5 young men in their early twenties boarded the bus to go to Torquay for a night out. No problem with that, they were lively and joking amongst themselves as we came down the Newton road. I, and everyone on the bus could hear them laughing and taking loudly. Then as we came into Torquay the bell rang and I could see in the periscope mirror that they were getting off. As I was approaching the stop and they were coming downstairs the emergency exit alarm began to sound. One of them had opened the emergency exit upstairs as a last minute ' lets have a laugh' idea. Not a big problem but one I could do without. They were all dead nice as they got of the bus, inviting me to have a good evening and thanking me for a nice ride down into town. I sat there thinking, " Nice of them; but one of the bastards had set the alarm off." When they had gone I went upstairs to close the exit and stop the alarm, a very piercing noise those alarms make. Not something you can ignore, not if you want to be able to hear anything the next day.

When I got upstairs to the Exit I could see it was firmly closed, oops, not that. Sorry lads, I hope, after all, you don't all choke on your beer. Must be the one down stairs. Now we have one bus which has had a problem with the downstairs emergency exit alarm for months. It goes off on it's own. A quick glance at the Defect Card. There it was, the last driver had writen that the alarm kept going off. I was driving this bus. The usual way to stop the alarm going off is to open the door and pull the handle firmly to shut the door. On this bus that didn't work. You also had to pull the bar that locks the door in place as well. Now each emergency exit has to be opened every day as part of the early morning inspection (see video). This constant opening and closing has taken it's toll on this door and it now is so battered that the alarm can go off several times a day, usually when the bus is full so you have to struggle passed hundreds of passengers, all who are worried that something serious is wrong in order to slam the door shut. One day the bar will fall of, as it is not designed for closing the door. Hopefully this will happen when I am driving the bus and am in Brixham and the fitters will have top struggle for an hour to get to the bus to fix the problem once and for all. Or maybe spray some WD40 on it as a quick fix.

How not to drive a bus ( More from youTube)

This is from Perth in Australia.A place I have visited a few times but have never been on this guy's bus, nor in the car in front thank god.
NONE of our bus drivers would dream of driving like this; at least I hope not.
Please don't tell me if you know better.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Easter Weekend

Wednesday was chaos, people were arriving early for the Bank Holiday weekend. The weather was predicted to be fine,dry and sunny for the whole weekend so lets go down to the coast seemed to be the motto. We managed, we always do even if we ran one or two of our buses a little late. Thursday seemed a little easier, most visitors had arrived so the traffic was just a touch lighter. Until that is I got to the bottom of Hyde Road in Paighton Town centre. I was stuck in unusually heavy traffic, i.e. , it wasn't moving. At the top of Hyde Rd there is a left turn which goes over a level crossing. We go to the right to get into the bus station. Just at that moment the voice of the controller came drifting out of the radio going on about a message from the police. They were looking for a green jeep type vehicle towing a trailer. We often get messages from the police to be on the look out for missing persons and missing cars or cars involved in some incident or other. What was this one about? Didn't they know Hyde Rd, and therefore Paignton had come to a stand still. The controller continued. I seemed that the driver of the jeep had tried to beat the barriers at the level crossing and had forgotten he was towing a trailer, the jeep got under the descending barrier but the trailer had hit it. It was jammed half way down. Driver, jeep and damaged trailer had left the scene, the damaged barrier hadn't, it was sat there blocking the road for the next two hours while a RailTrack engineer came down from Exeter to fix it.

Friday I had a day of and went to Brixham for the afternoon. On the way back I stopped of at Paignton Bus station for a little light entertainment. Queues every where, buses some where else stuck in lines of cars driven buy visitors admirring the beautiful scenery; or the back of the bus in front of them. I was going to put a photo of the bus station here but it would have been X Rated so here is a photo of Brixham Harbour instead, much nicer.

Saturday was mayhem. Those visitors who were here already either got in their cars for a drive round the Bay and those who hadn't yet arrived decided to arrive a day or two late and miss the rush. What a wonderful idea. Those visitors without cars ALL said, "I know, lets get on a bus and go to Brixham." Now that is a good idea, as you can see from the photo Brixham is a very picturesque place. Unfortunately someone decided that holding a car boot sale in a field at the side of the only road into Brixham would be a wonderful idea. Traffic was queuing twenty cars deep in both directions trying to get in to the car boot sale. The road there is only wide enough for one line of cars in each direction. Result? Road blocked. If they didn't want their car boot why did they buy a car that had a boot in the first place. I know we kept our heads above water, just. I didn't hear of any bus drivers being strapped into one of them stiff white jackets with the long arms and taken away screaming, "I'm only an hour late. I'll soon make that up."

Sunday I had put my name down to do over time and that nice Allocations Officer had given me this wonderful 9 hour 49 minute duty. Such a generous man. I got to work and we were all expecting more of the same. I started at 8:30 and never ran late all day. Everyone with a car decided that they were going to do their bit to Save the Planet and left it at home or outside their hotel. Traffic was so light I though the fuel tanker drivers must have been on strike and there was not a drop of petrol to be had anywhere in the Bay. What a let down. Still there is Easter Monday to look forward to. That is usually busy with lots of people heading home early to avoid the traffic. What an original idea, I wish I had thought of that. Problem is most people do think of it and worse still, they think they are the only ones to think of it. So, what do I care, I ain't working Monday. I shall go out for a bus ride some where. Get some photos of Paignton Bus Station.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Open Top Going Under Low Bridge in Manor Road

The things people do on open top buses as they go under low bridges. At least they didn't stand up.

Not my video, I was shot by Sparky49. Click for more by this camera person.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

A Big Queue in Paignton Bus Station.

Something else I did while on Paignton Bus Station. It lasts 3 mins and gets very boring.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

6 Buses in one place + part of the reason.

This is Paignton Bus Station this afternoon and there are six number 12/12A s in a line. If all the buses were running to the time table there really should only be two max. But things have, as I have reported here several times recently, not been running well. Not our fault, honest. Road works that should have been finished 4 weeks ago are still holding buses up and as you can see in the picture below people parking their cars where they shouldn't just isn't helping. Unfortunately the driver of the white car had a good reason to be parked there outside the doctor's surgery. What reason? Oh yeah, "I'm just nipping in to see the doctor, I wont be a minute." The driver of the car believes that is a good reason even if No One Else does. Unfortunately No One Else wasn't there to object as the dirty deed was done and the bus came along later and got stuck. For several minutes at least, I was on the Bus Station when I heard about the problem and Midvale Road is 3 or 4 minutes fast walk away. Not that I walk fast these days. Not even to get a scoop like this one.

The guy in the Hi Vis jacket is the station controller trying to sort the mess out.


Some one commented recently about "scratching". This is the practice of catching up with the bus in front, which might be running a few minutes late, and not overtaking it. This means the first bus driver is doing all the work and the second driver none at all. What happens down here in Torquay usually is the second bus will overtake the first bus and help out the late running bus. Scratching, also known as swinging, is uncommon but does happen from time to time. We do tend to help each other out. It also helped the service run better. But there are moments.....................

An other practice that occurs from time to time, which does help the service run better is turning a bus short of it's destination. This happens when a bus is running seriously late, there aren't too many people on the bus, there is an other bus handy that is going to the same place and control say it is OK. There are two groups of drivers who request turning a) most of us who do so as a last resort and b) a few who make a lifelong habit of it. This seems to be what happened to other day. Driver A was running late, but then most of us were, what with the road works in Long Road and Newton Abbot, 2 lots, and some thickhead car driver parking his car in a box junction in Brixham. Anyway Driver A requested the He/She be turned, he/she only had a few passengers and there was a bus not far in front of him/her. Control said OK. Driver A then spoke on the radio to the driver of the bus in front of her (lets call him Driver B) asking him to wait so she could transfer her passengers. Driver B, knowing which of the above group driver A belonged to, replied that he was 15 minutes late himself and wasn't waiting around for no one. I happened to be going the other way at the time and noticed Driver B heading for Newton at about 100 mph with Driver A hard on his heels at about 95 mph.

Twenty minutes later Driver A came back on the radio to tell control that she would be late back as she had been unable to catch the bus in front and had to go all the way into Newton. (Did she know the way I heard a colleague ask).

PS I should point out, before there are letters to the Editor that our buses will NOT do 100 mph; I exaggerated that bit for dramatic purposes.

Monday, 2 April 2007

What I Did Today

I was covering Duty 3613, usually a nice duty. It starts well after morning rush hour and the children going to school. Even the shoppers have got to the shops and haven't started to go home again and it tends to be fairly quiet. One little problem, which was to be expected, was all the buses were running a few minutes late. The reason, apart from the road works, was the new fares and the changes that had been made to some of our tickets. Notices were put on all the buses on Saturday evening at 10:30 so no one could say they weren't warned that there would be changes on Sunday. Two of the tickets that went were the Torquay and Paignton weekly megariders. For £11.00 you could ride round either Torquay or Paignton and Brixham for a week. As many bus rides as you could manage. Problem was too many people were using the Paignton megarider to travel to Torquay which wasn't allowed. And is stealing. If the driver was in a rush they might get away with this. Well from yesterday they can ride around the whole of Torbay and all the way to Newton for £16.00. Whether they want to or not. So today hundreds if not thousands of passengers were getting on their bus with £11.00 to buy their weekly ticket only to be told by the poor sod of a driver that they were £5.00 short and why didn't they get on a bus at 10:30 Saturday evening and read the notice. All the fares had gone up and people who tended the correct fare (nice people) were being asked for more money. Those who paid with a note were querying their change. All takes time.

Then I got to Newton, regular readers will know there are road works in Newton. Anyone who has approached the temporary traffic lights at road works will be familiar with the red notice just before the lights which instructs them to, "Wait here when Red Light Shows." One set of lights has a 30 foot gap between the notice and the lights. Here is a question. If you go past the notice and the lights are on green but they change to red before you reach the lights, do you stop at the lights?" That question should be asked in the Highway Code part of the Driving Test. There would only be half the cars, and two buses less, on the road today if it were. The answer by the way is NO!

I will repeat that in case you missed it the first time NO! NO! NO! Especially if the lights in question are on a bend and the road works are taking up so much of the road that the X64, the 30 foot long, X64 bound for Exeter, that you are driving now blocks the road to everything but a motor bike and possibly a mini, a small mini at that. I ended up having to reverse 35 feet in a very crowded street so the driver of the X64 could get out. The lights had changed twice by the time the road was clear. Then what happened. The 30 foot long, 85A heading for Exeter went past the red notice on green, the lights changed and what did the driver do. Guessed it in one; He stopped. Maybe Exeter is too posh for roadworks.

On my way out of Newton a warning buzzer went of. Low water. Stop. Phone control. They told me they would get someone out to me as soon as possible. "Tell them not to hurry." I joked. I didn't know there had been other break downs else where. An hour later a fitter turned up and got me going again.

Then there was a serious accident in the centre of Torquay which slowed every one down almost to the point of stop. But I was running so late I was back on time and heading for Paignton and Brixham and crowds of people at every bus stop who had given up caring about the fare increase and wanted to know where all the buses were. An other eventful day. I got home 25 minutes late, plenty of empathy with all the passengers.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Sunday, So It Is Raining.

Sunday, day off and it is raining. It was also the start of the Around Torbay Free bus pass and new fares and several tickets changes so even though it is raining I am rather glad I am not working. Still, got tomorrow to look forward to when I will be working. Should be fun. Don't worry I will let you know how things go.

You can see how the changes have effected the bus service; these two buses you can see should be 12 minutes apart. I am only guessing but I believe the front bus is the one running late.