Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Spanish Drivers

No matter howw bad some of our English drivers appear they will never be as bad as Spanish drivers. I came south out of Barcelona towards Sites along to old coast road which has lots of blind bends. The first thing I noticed was the fact that the white line on all the bends was worn out, thats becouse evenone cuts the bends over onto the left side of the road. Lots of neaar misses there. More Later

Weather cloudy but hot.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Ten Years Driving a Bus

Ten years ago to day (24 June 1997) I started driving a bus in London for CentreWest which is part of FirstBus.Yea, yea; I worked for FirstBus. I admit it now. A year later I moved down here to Torquay and have now been with Stagecoach for 9 years. In those ten years I have probably covered about a third of a million miles, not counting several trips to Australia. I will have carried about 2 thirds of a million passengers and I have had one serious accident when a Peugeot 205 did a U turn fight in front of me. Two passengers on the bus were taken to hospital for a check up but neither remained in hospital over night. There have been the odd scrape where wing mirrors have gone and little scratches have appeared on cars and the bus but apart from the bus shelter nothing too expensive. The occasional passenger has reported me for being rude but the was when I first started, now I am only rude to passengers when they have gone and only under my breath.

So what am I driving today to celebrate this mile stone. Which wonderful bus on which of the 20 or so routes I have driven on so far? None. I’m on holiday. Isn’t that nice. And I am off to sunny Spain, Barcelona to be exact, tomorrow and I will be back at the end of next week. Click here to see what the weather is doing in Barcelona and it you live in the UK, weep. If you don‘t live in the UK, we have had wall to wall rain here in the UK for the past several weeks, so much I feel like I'm leaving a sinking ship. My original plan for this holiday had been to go up to Sheigra in Scotland, looking at the forecast I am glad that plan was changed.

I will get on the internet a couple of times while I am away and down load some photos of Spanish buses, wont that be nice?

Then back to work Sunday 8 July, a day I am really looking forward to.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Answers to Recent Comments.

A few comments that arrived recently that I haven’t had time to get back to till now.

Having been on buses recently that have broken mirrors on trees and skidded to a stop behind cars and trucks that stopped unexpectedly, I've got to wonder, what's the problem with scratching some ignorant (selfish) person's car that is blocking that much traffic?
From Steve
I’d love to but:-
Main reason is I have a letter in my possession from management asking me not to have any more blame worthy accidents, ( remember the £6 000 bus shelter last year), not unless I am prepared to sit in managements office for an extremely uncomfortable interview followed by getting another letter with, "This is your last chance!" stamped all over it.

Why not go into print?An article in the local press (with pictures) might tweak a conscience or two.
The truck driver, who was at the scene told me the car arrived after he did. Equally the car driver could claim he/she was there first.

You should have insisted that officer sorted it out.
We would have still been there 3 days later if I had done that. Note; the bit about showing her where reverse gear is was a little bit of an exaggeration.

Muppets? Have you been reading The Driver's Bloodbus blog by any chance?or is now a standard term amongst bus drivers?
Prodigal Green
I have been reading Bloodbus, and I am glad I don’t drive a bus in Glasgow. Some drivers do refer to their passengers as muppets, some are less polite.

Hey there David, I was wondering whether you lot down in Devon have GPS's in your cabs or do you just have to count it out in your head? We have some terrible school children down in Brighton :) Great Blog as always!
jack h

We have some terrible school children down here as well but the lot I pick up are usually OK. One school run is only carried out with a bus with CCTV so the video can be sent to the school concerned. Not that much happens.
The radios here are so old they still have a Morse Code key fitted so fat chance GPS.

Aussie says.. how many hotels do you really have in Torquay?
See photo below from the Local Thompson Phone Book.

That's 137.5 cms at 41 hotels per 10 cm equals 563 hotels and there ia a full page of Guest Houses (300 aprox) A lot!

Radio Gemini and Brookes Buses.

Every year in the summer we borrow buses from other bus companies. We need the extra buses to cope with the holidaymakers and the language students who flood into the Bay. When I first started we used to borrow them from Stagecoach London who sent us some right lumps of elderly metal. One or two spent more time in the garage being repaired than on the road earning money. Now we get the buses from Oxford who don't need then now all the students have gone down for the summer. The buses are done up in the livery of Brookes Bus and are used on the routes between Newton and Brixham. They also have radios in them which Oxford are licenced for but we are not. But one or two drivers, not knowing this have been in the habit of turning on and tuning to Radio Gemini, our local commercial radio station. Imagine now the scene, 40 or 50 passengers have just boarded a Brookes bus in Torquay and paid the very popular price(1) of £3.45 return to Paignton, a journey of 20 minutes. Knowing Radio Gemini they are likely to hear two records in that time, if they are lucky. The rest of the time will be spent listening to adverts. So here we are on the bus and the first record fades away and the adverts scream out telling you what is missing in your life? "Did you know," the breathless voice assaults your defenseless ears, "That FirstBus Devon operate a service every 15 minutes between Torquay and Paignton for the unbelievable, ridiculous price of £2.45." A full pound less the you and the 39 or 49 other passengers have paid.
Management got to hear about this and now all the radios have had the fuses removed. Not a big surprise there.
Note(1) It is popular with our accountants; and the shareholders.

Friday, 22 June 2007

How to Bring Sherborne Road to a Standstill.

First of all find a truck unloading and then get some one with a disabled badge to park 8 feet 1 inch away from the truck. It really does help if you are aproaching some temporary traffic lights, actually I am beginning to believe these lights are permanent as they have been there since last October and Devon County Council told me 6 months ago they would be gone by April. So here I am unable to go any where and as you can see in the second photo lots of car drivers who can't go any whereeither. After I had taken the photos I decided to try and get us out of the situation. The truck driver had moved but that didn't help much so I asked the car drivers to turn into the road on their right and signaled a van driver to wait at the top of the road until I had gone. The road on the right only brings you back to where you started from but it would mean I could move and that would unblock the road. Did the van driver wait? What do you think? When he got to where the bus was blocking the road he told me to fuck off. At that moment a police car joined the waiting masses trying to make me disappear by magic, what you do is bang on your steering wheel while chanting the incantation, "Why doesn't that f**king bus piss off?" Frothing slighly at the mouth at the same time is supposed to help. Well let me tell you; it doesn't work.

Me, being young and naive expected the police office to jump bright eyed and uniform pressed from her patrol car and clear the mess up speedily in a way that demonstrated her extensive, high quality training that the tax payers pay for knowing the are going to get great value for their tax pounds. Finally I gave up waiting, if I hadn't we would have all been there still. I went to the car behind the police car and explained that the road was blocked so he reversed and vanished into the sunlight. Then I explained the our lady in blue who yawned and with some reluctance admitted she would have to reverse and before I went would I mind showing her how to get reverse as she usually didn't bother with such mundane things. The cars in front of her didn't need anything explaining and reversed as soon as the officer had gone and I was able to get on my way, as was the swearing van driver.
When I have got a spare minute I think I will email Devon County Council again and ask then did they mean April 2007 or was that a misprint?

Thursday, 21 June 2007

An RTC on the way to Brixham

I got to work a little early yesterday, I had some books to take back to the library and I had allowed more time than I really needed, just to be on the safe side. As it happened I was needed so I got a few minutes overtime, always useful with holidays coming up. An other driver had been late for his break and he had by law to take a 30 minute break so I was able to take his X46 to Paignton and back. When he had had his 30 minutes it was time for my 12A to go to Newton so he was able to do that part of my duty. So both buses ran thanks to some expert juggling of resources by the controllers. When I took over my bus on it's way back from Newton all I had to do was go to Brixham and back to Paignton for my meal break. However when I got to Churston Bridge on the way into Brixham there was a hold up, traffic down to a crawl on what is normally a fast road. Five minutes later I reach the scene of the accident, sorry collision as accidents are now known. I knew at once that we were going to be delayed seriously for the next couple of hours and told both controls and all the other mobiles this. I left Brixham a couple of minutes late and then spend 30 minutes getting back to the crash site. The 12A in front of me had managed to get past before the traffic had built up too much and was only 5 minutes down, this mean that there would be a gap in the service of 35 minutes and I was likely to be greeted by not happy passengers along the way.

When I got to the Zoo two people got on and angrily stated that they had been waiting over an hour. Now normally when people have been waiting like this I am sympathetic and explain the problem but I knew they could not have been there an hour. If you are going to complain get your facts right. 40 minutes would have been more to the point and I said so. An other passenger standing behind these two belligerent muppets butted in and asked had the accident been a bad one. The belligerent muppets then changed track and told me that the school children at the bus stop were very badly behaved and why should they be subjected to this kind of behavior while waiting for a bus. Again this was a gross exaggeration and was not to be allowed and I said that in my opinion, and I had picked this group of children up many times so I should know, these boys and girls from Paignton Community College were very well behaved and I always liked having them on the bus. Indeed the children had allowed the muppets to board the bus first, something the children from several other schools in the area would not have done. Muppets paid their fare and went and sat down. It is said that ; "Customers are alway right", I would add; "except when they are wrong."

Then into Paignton for my meal break 35 minutes down, no problem as the bus I was due to take over was also 35 minutes down so I got my 30 minutes break. As I waited for my bus to arrive a female passenger was escorted off a Torquay bound bus. An other passenger who had just got off the bus told me that the female passenger, who had boarded the bus at South Devon College, had been using the most appalling language at the top of her voice on the bus and the driver had requested the Paignton controller remove her from the bus, which he did. Bad language is an increasing problem but to have it screamed at you on a bus is not a pleasant way to spend an afternoon and should not be tolerated. As I stated earlier I pick school children up from Paignton Community College, I also pick students up from South Devon College. I would quite happily give a few of the students, only a few I should stress, from South Devon College a miss any day of the week.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Brixham, Rain, Traffic, Toilet and Inspectors.

Yesterday I started at 12 noon from the Strand in Torquay heading for Brixham as a 12A, the long way round through Roselands. Takes an hour where as the 12 only takes 40 minutes. Now the sun had been shining all morning, I had even been out and done some shopping, mostly for Euros for my little trip to Spain next week (more about that in a later post). Just as I was about to go out there was an item on Radio Devon that a truck was on fire at the junction of Market Street and Union St, only 5 mins away, so I grabbed the camera and headed off to see if I could get another picture in the local paper. It must have been a very small fire as there was not a sight nor sound of a raging inferno when I got there, nothing, zilch de nada. What a disappointment.

Any back to work. like I said the sun had been shining but by the time I got to Roselands rain started, cats and dogs were falling from the sky by the bucket full. As I got closer to Brixham I began to realise that all this water had reminded my bladder that emptying it would be a very good idea once I got it to Brixham. The roads were quiet so It looked like I would have plenty of time. Then at the lights to go into the town square I knew I had a problem. Brixham can fill up a the drop of a hat and the drop of millions of drops of rain had slowed the flow of traffic to half a mile an hour. And I was going in when two other buses were also arriving, I would have to go round the block and wait for one of the other buses to go. Bladder was screaming at me. "Empty now!" Fat chance. Then I noticed two company Inspectors. After 3 weeks of managing on our own they had arrive like the Cavalry to save the day. Not by helping sort the problem out, we knew how to do that by now but by allowing me to jump off the bus and get to the toilet while one of the inspector drove my bus round the square for me. Aren't inspectors wonderful after all.

Monday, 18 June 2007


A few weeks ago I got told off by a passenger. Happens now and then but this wasn't the usual thing like going past her stop or vastly overcharging her (I can't help the cost of bus travel), or driving badly (I don't do that), or even singing as I drive along (I sometimes do that).
What happened was she asked me if the shops in Totnes were open on a Sunday. I had to admit that I didn't know as I had never been to Totnes. As we were in Totnes at the time on a 200 service this excuse seemed a little lame. However she understood what I meant and suggested that I one day go to Totnes without my bus and have a look round.
So yesterday, Sunday, I decided to have a look at the place. Now on a week day there are several buses run by the company that will take you to Totnes but on a Sunday there is only the X80 run by FirstBus. We can use our staff passes on FirstBus but in view of the state of war( sorry war is a bit too strong to describe the situation, more a flexing of muscles, a gentle beating of swords on shields, a checking that all the nuclear missiles are armed and ready and the sign posts directing civilians to the fall out shelters are all in place) that is about to erupt between the two companies at the moment with FirstBus putting extra buses between Torquay and Paignton and Stagecoach running a service to Plymouth in opposition to the X80 I boarded the FirstBus a little unsure as to whether I would get the free ride I was hoping for. Well I needn't have worried, but I wonder if this state of affairs will last. Anyway I can confirm that the shops are closed in Totnes on a Sunday but it does have a few pubs, one of which I visited for a little while.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Cash Machine

When we finish work we head for the Pay-in room. Where we pay in all the cash we have collected. We have two cash machines both fairly new. One of them keeps not working. Usually it doesn't take notes so it was a nice change when I went in tonight to find that both machines had an absence of "Out of Order" notices stuck on them. First note went in fine except it did not register the fact that it, the machine, had taken my Bank of England beer token to the value of several pints of beer. I explained this in a very loud voice to the duty controller who said, Must be bust again. Use the other machine." Not a happy end to an otherwise dull and uneventful day.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Been Here Before.

If some one asks you address I am sure you wouldn't reply number 23. Or number 9 or 207 or some such number. You would continue with the name of the street at least and then go on to the area of the town and then the name of the town or city.( OK George, if you are reading this, I expect you'd just say 1600). So why do people who come on holiday to Torquay only remember the name of their hotel, and then not even accurately. They seem to think that their hotel is so big and important that every bus driver will know exactly where it is. OK if you are staying at the Grand or the Belgrave or the Livermead Cliff or Livermead House Hotels, we drive past them every day 2 or 3 times a day, we know where they are. But the other 854 hotels in Torquay are not in the data bank known as my memory. Street names, now some of them I know and help is just a radio call away even if I don't.

Yesterday, once again, the desperate question was asked," Do you know where the XYZ Hotel is?" I should add that wasn't the name of the hotel. If there was a hotel called XYZ in Torquay I expect I would know where it was. I use XYZ because the three people who asked where their hotel was couldn't even agree on it's name let alone where it was. "Name of the street it's on?" I asked. I may as well have asked them to explain the complete works of Ludwig Wittgenstein in 3 short sentences without drawing breath. We finally arrived at a description of a road which led me to believe they had come down Belgrave Road. It's at right angles to the sea, there is a park on the left, the return bus fare to town was £1.05, there was a footbridge over the main road. They had gone past Belgrave Road and were at The Grand Hotel, only one stop too far. I told them to cross the road and catch a bus back, "Tell the driver you missed your stop and you want Belgrave Road. He will take you back for free." ( We have so many tourist who don't recognise their stop when they see it and end up too far down the road that we always take them back. All part of the service.)

But they wouldn't have it. They were willing to pay to continue further along the road even though there are only 4 hotels in the next mile and a half down the road. Believe me, I'm a bus driver. I know these things. I refused to take them, again pointing them in the direction of Belgrave Road. Finally I had to go, there were 50 on the bus who wanted to get somewhere, anywhere so long as it wasn't here.

I hope they found their hotel before the restaurant closed for the night. Anyway if you are going away on holiday please write down the name and address of your hotel on a luggage label and pin it to you jacket like all those evacuated children during the war. It will save me feeling guilty as I drive away leaving you stranded at the side of the road without a hope of ever finding your hotel ever again. Not to mention your luggage, an evening meal and a bed for the night.

Have a nice holiday.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Three anoying incidents

The first little incident started when I picked up a passenger in Paignton Bus Station. He had a suit case with him and he wanted Marine Park Holiday Camp in Goodrington Road. Would I tell him when we got there. Yes. No problem. Now I have in my early days of driving a bus made this promise and forgotten so now I carry a small piece of 'BluTac' in the cash tray which I use to stick a reminded on the ticket machine. (See photo)(sorry it's not that clear but it is there next to the display screen)(click on the picture, it will get bigger). Unfortunately I was side tracked by an other passenger who, after looking at the destination board for 30 seconds came and asked if I went to Torquay. No sorry, the 12 or 12A from Stand Q at the end. But it says Torquay on the front she countered. And she was right but now we are getting into the problem of destination blinds which I did mention a few days ago and don't wish to discuss right now.

Now where were we? Oh yes it's time to go. Close doors, put hazards on press the button for reverse, press the button to confirm I want reverse, look behind the bus, nothing moving, a last look up and down the bus station, look behind again, check mirrors, release hand brake and ease up foot brake and away we go. At this moment the Mongol Hoards of Genghis Khan could turn up wanting the bus. They wouldn't get it. Not once I'm moving. (Company rule). Marine Park? Remember that place? Well I did but only when we got to Brixham, about 10 minutes after the gent who wanted the place should have got of and a little voice said,"Are we there yet?". To make matters worse, because the roads were quiet I had got to Brixham about 4 minutes earlier than scheduled and now had 10 minutes to wait before heading back to Marine Park. Never mind said our friend, I'll nip in the Bakery and get a couple of pasties for my lunch. He was very nice about the whole affair and lest upset than I was.

Then later on in the day I accepted, without noticing, this £10 note. Looks OK doesn't it. And it is. A real Bank of England printed £10 note worth ten pounds of any one's money.
Except for the fact that is type were withdrawn from service in July 2003. This has Mr C Dickens on the back. The new ones have a different Charlie on the back. Mr Darwin. Now this charlie who took the bloody thing will have to go to the Post Office tomorrow and see if they will change it for a usable tenner. I do hope so.
Then on the way home, the bus broke down.


On Saturday I changed my duty with an other driver. I went to Totnes on the 200 service 4 times and he did my 12 service. A change is as good as a rest, they say. Except that the first half of the duty I had this shed on wheels that went up hills slightly slower than a little old lady walking home from the shops with 4 carrier bags full of the weeks shopping. Four weeks ago I had also swapped the same duty and there was a motor cycle accident. And as you can see in the photo a motor bike, a 4 wheel drive and a small car all parked up while the owners exchanged names and addresses. Now either this road is the motor cycle accident black spot for the whole of the UK or I attract motor cycle accidents. In 4 weeks time I will again swap this duty and if there is an other accident involving one (or more) of are two wheeled friends then there could be a scientific paper on the ability of a certain bus driver to attract accidents. If nothing happens then the whole thing will be forgotten.
Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny, warm day and I give fair notice that the next person to get on my bus and say,"It's too nice to work." will not enjoy the ensuing couple of minutes. I know it is too nice to work, lets face it there could be a wind blowing the started in Siberia, spent a couple of days wandering over Northern Russia gathering in as much cold as it could find followed by a quick scouring of the Scandinavian ice sheets before hurtling over the North Sea picking up hailstones the size of golf balls before blasting down the English Channel, spotting Torquay and thinking ,"That looks like a nice place to spend a few days." and it would still be too nice to work. So when the sun is shining and there is a gentle breeze blowing me in the direction of a nice pub with a quiet garden overlooking the beach I don't wont to be reminded that I have got to work thank you very much.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Concessionary Tickets

There have been a few questions regarding this matter recently including an entry in the Stagecoach in Devon section in Wekipedia. So here is a company spokesman, Mark Wittle, giving his view.

From Herald Express 6 June 2007

1 reader has commented on this story. Click here to read their views.
11:00 - 06 June 2007
Lenys Robinson and other pensioners who have contacted this column over their Stagecoach fares can relax.Torbay Council is not paying the company more than it should for their concessionary journeys.
The Paignton reader discovered on occasions that she was given a ticket for a destination further than her own stop."People travelling free usually don't look at their tickets," she said."I glanced at mine when going from Paignton bus station to Tanners End but found it said Bank Lane in Brixham. I mentioned this to the woman sitting next to me who was going to Brixham but had a ticket for further than her destination. "The widow and others feared the council was charged for the length of each trip which would add to its expenses and put up their council tax.

However the company's Mark Whittle stressed this was not so."We're paid a set amount regardless of the distances involved, so what is shown on the ticket is irrelevant," he said. "Drivers however are well aware they should only give the correct ticket. Not following this rule is automatically a disciplinary issue."Both Stagecoach and the council monitor all routes independently to provide a safeguard and these checks are frequent. Anybody being given an incorrect ticket should tell the driver immediately and get the mistake rectified."

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Stuck, twice in 3 days.

A couple of days ago I came to this very spot and there was a skip in the way. On that occasion I managed to pull the bus out of the way and let the traffic behind get past but last evening, with the road full of cones and road signs there was no where for me to go and it took almost 5 minutes for this dumper truck to move out of the way.
A bit further up the road I picked someone up who was heading for Chudleigh and needed to be in Newton to catch the 39 at 20:00. I wasn't due to get there until 19:59 which was cutting it a bit fine. Due to the road works it turned out to be much too fine as I didn't get there until 20:03 and the 39 had gone. Radio reception isn't good in Newton so my calls to the 39 driver to wait a minute or two probably went unheard.
On my way back from Newton to finish at the depot I noticed a police car following me so careful driving and a close watch on the speed were the order of the day (as always of course). That still didn't prevent him from pulling along side me at a red light on Penn Inn roundabout and asking me to stop at the next bus stop, he only wanted a word with a couple of passengers but I could have done without the intervention as all I had to do was drive a couple of miles down the road to the depot and finish. But I was now 5 minutes late and missed my bus. So I ended up getting home 15 minutes late.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Congestion, here and there.

This is the Strand in Torquay. It is a major bus stop and due to an incident in Kingskerswell that was cleared fairly quickly four 12/12As all turned up at more or less the same time. To help out in this congestion creating exercise the Land Train which wanders around Torquay also turned up at the same time. The bus I was waiting to take over had to stop in the middle of the road which blocked the traffic. However the driver coming off the bus had seen the situation and as she came to a halt she just grabbed her belongings and left the bus. I got on and with a quick check all round to make sure it was safe headed for Paignton. The bus must have been stopped for all of ten seconds so not too much congestion caused there.

A little later in the day I came across this skip. I could see at once there was no way I could get past so I pulled over to the right, it's a one way street there, and let all the cars behind get through.
Eventually the skip driver got in the
cab and drove away but about 40 cars did go through which if I hadn't move out of there way would have brought the top end of Torquay to a complete halt.

Aren't I a kindly soul?

Water Fountain

A new water fountain has been installed in Paignton Bus Station, for staff use only, sorry.
But exactly where in the bus station has it been installed?
A free 12 timetable for the first correct answer.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A Bus is a Bus; Not a Mobile Cafe.

We don't really like passengers eating hot food on the bus. It's greasy which can be easily transferred to the seats for other passengers to get on clothes or bits of this greasy food can end up on the floor for other passengers to slip on. It smells and lingers on the bus long after the food has been eaten and even if none of the food does end up on the seats, floor or other passengers clothes it leaves an unsightly mess as seen here.

So when you get on in Union Street Torquay and ask for a ticket to Brixham clutching a bag of fast food don't be surprised if I am a little sceptical when I doubt your assertion that you are not going to eat your KFC or Big Mac but sit there on the bus for 40 minutes while your food, which is just about edible when hot (provided that is you haven't eaten for two days) gets colder and colder. In which case the only residents of the Bay who are likely to want eat it have webbed feet and white feathers and a big yellow beak. Sorry, you bought the stuff in KFC or MacDonald's so eat it in KFC or MacDonalds or even the street but not on my bus thank you.

Cyclist on the way to Brixham.

If you go back a couple of years on this blog you will find a post with the title "Cyclists are mad." It should of course been "Some cyclists are mad." sorry about that if you are a sane cyclist. It told about a cyclist I got stuck behind coming out of Brixham. Now I have no real problem getting stuck behind a cyclist on a narrow road, it happens rarely and in a bad week I am held up for at most only half a minute before the opportunity arises to over take. You can spend 5 minutes to two days stuck behind a grockel towing a caravan so cyclist are not a major problem. The one two years ago was a problem as when I finally got past him he called my a rude name and indicated with a hand gesture that he had just had the worse two minutes of his life. Then I stopped at a red light and what did our friend do, up on the pavement and in front of me so when the lights changed I was stuck behind him again. When I got past him he again suggested that my parents weren't married to each other and with a slightly different hand gesture indicated the worse one minute of his life had just occurred. Next lights were also on red and again up on pavement and in front of me. I just stopped at the next stop and counted to a hundred slowly and never saw him again.

Today's cyclist was going into Brixham and was travelling at 20 mph (down hill ) I just got 25 feet behind him and whistled a happy tune. I was in no rush and even if I had been the were too many cars coming the other way and the road wasn't wide enough to pass him. Not a problem. Like I said in a bad week I might spend a minute behind a cyclist out of 41 hours driving, so who cares. This cyclist did because instead of just carrying on he suddenly stopped without warning. Now I can not get past him when he is moving but he is just as wide stationary so i still can not get past so I had to stop, also suddenly. If you were behind me, a 12A, at about 18:27 going into Brixham round Strawberry Bends and you had to brake hard, sorry but not my fault.

So, if you are a cyclist and a bus comes behind you and can not pass just keep going. The bus driver will wait until it is safe and pass you. (I hope).

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Missing the Action.

At about 10 am yesterday morning I had just left Paignton Bus Station as a 12A heading for Brixham when I heard other drivers on the radio reporting that Brixham Town Square was once again gridlocked. I would be getting there in 35 minutes so I was looking forward to spending 20 or 30 minutes, instead of 6 minutes getting into and out of Brixham. As you can see from the photo by the time I got there all was clear. I am not sure what happened, did the police arrive and sort it out or if someone finally set the traffic lights up so more vehicles could leave the square than enter. Last week the lights were letting 20 vehicles in and 3 out. If you have a degree in rocket science you should be able to work out what would happen. Brixham Town Square is fairly small and can hold only about 25 vehicle, less if two or three of them are buses. But clear for me which meant I didn't spent the rest of my shift running late.
Then at about 4 pm I was at the Grand Hotel in Torquay heading again for Brixham when a driver reported a crash on the Newton Rd heading for Newton Abbot. A motor bike and white van had come into contact and the motor cyclist was in the middle of the road injured and the road was blocked in both directions. It would be two hours before I reached that point in my journey. For the next two hours the controller was talking to drivers trying to find out how long the road would be closed for and then when it open trying to get the service back to some sort of normality. There was a road closing accident at almost the same place last Friday so he had plenty of practice. It is one of the problems in this area, close the road and that is it. There isn't any other road we can take. Anyway I carried on to Brixham, waited my time and headed to Newton. By the time I got to Paignton the road had just been opened and buses were starting to run again but with a big gap. Traffic going my way was running normally but if you wanted to go from Torquay to Paignton or Brixham you would have had a bit of a wait. Sorry about that but I know spare drivers were used to plug some of the gaps but we only have so many spare drivers.
By the time I was heading up towards the scene of the crash I was concerned that traffic would still be heavy. But when I got there all was clear and I drove through at 40 mph no problem.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Photo in the paper

The link to the local papers never seems to work for individual items but here is a photo of the photo I sent to the Herald Express. If you look carefully my name appears under the photo. The item in the paper says it happened on Sunday but it was Saturday. Even local papers get details wrong.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Never been on a bus before?

Some Passengers Do Stand Out In The Crowd.

Now and then some one gets on a bus who has never been on a bus before, or as Basil Fawlty once said, "Never sat on a chair before." This passenger got on and demanded to know, "How much. For two adults and one child." I pointed out that there were in fact three adults and one child which he admitted could possibly be the case. He then repeated his demand, "How much?" I asked where he was going. He wanted to know why. I explained that 'how much' depended on 'where to'. He thought that was silly and told me so. I suggested he humour me and tell me where he was going. Paignton, if it's all that important was his answer. Single or return. He must have only heard the single bit because he said with a certain irritability that there were 3 adults and a child. He wasn't single. Yes I know, but do you want single tickets or return tickets. What's the difference? he wanted to know. Well by this time there were about 25 people behind him waiting to get on the bus but I explained the difference. If you are coming back today, return tickets are cheaper. Oh right, long pause. Single. So breathing a sigh of relief I pressed the right buttons and 18 inches of paper emerged from the ticket machine with 3 adult and one child single tickets from Brixham to Paignton neatly printed there on. £9.20 please said I, the light glowed brightly at the end of the tunnel. Foolish me. That's expensive said wife, his not mine. True thought I but blame Tony Blair not me. Wife continued, What would return tickets cost? £14.95. We'll have returns. So I annulled the single tickets and issued the return tickets and took the money. Almost all over but not quite. Now it is very simple to remove the ticket from the machine, you take hold and gently pull. Little old ladies who have had a telegram from the Queen can do it. Two year old toddlers can lick ice creams and do it. People with 3 shopping bags in one hand and the lead of a mad pitbull terrier in the other can do it. Not this one. He took hold of the ticket about a foot away from the machine and snatched in the same way a drowning man goes for the straw. So the ticket tore in his hand leaving 3 /4 of the ticket, two adults and one child ticket still in the machine. A second go and he now has one adult ticket and half an adult ticket in his hand. I did try and remove the rest before too much damage was done but he was too quick and the rest of his ticket was finally removed from the machine in 3 more pieces. He was not impressed by our ticket machines and I was so far gone you could have extracted all my teeth with a pair of pliers and I wouldn't have felt any thing.

The rest of the day went really well, considering.

Brixham Gridlock

Once again Brixham Town Square was gridlocked. The main problem is the lights just in front of the red bus. That is both the way in and the way out and the junction is controlled by three way lights. The lights coming into the square were working OK, ten or more cars entering the square form Bolton Street and the same from New Rd. But the lights for us poor sods trying to get out only stayed on green just long enough to allow 3 vehicles out. So each time the lights went through a complete cycle 20 vehicles got in but only 3 out. A net gain of 17 in a space only capable of holding 30 vehicles at most. You don't need a degree in rocket science to work out the result. The fact that there are 3 double decker bus buses trying to enter and leave within 3 minutes of each other can't help much either. But I blame it on the erratic behavior of the traffic lights.

Where is St Marychurch?

St Marychurch is in the north of Torquay, up the Babbacombe Rd, and is where this bus goes. It's about 10 miles from where this bus is, which is Brixham. The journey to St Marychurch takes this bus through Paignton and Torquay which is where almost 90% of the passengers who get on in Brixham are going. But does it say that on the destination blind? Of Paignton there is no mention. That's 45% of the passengers put off traveling on this bus. Torquay gets mentioned twice, the Strand and Castle Circus but would some one who is down here for a week know that? Probably not. That's an other 45% gone. Many off them would have heard of Babbacombe because of the beach and the Modal Village and even the Cliff Railway but not the area to the north known as St Marychurch. Would you get on a bus if you didn't have a clue where it was going? OK. I know you can always ask the driver where it is going but I know from comments holiday making passengers have made to me about their home town bus drivers that asking for information is sometimes not worth the risk. Try it here and you will be plesently supprised (I hope).

Anyway I was going to put in a memo about this problem but I have noticed that some of the buses do now have destination blinds that have point out that the bus goes to Paignton and then Torquay before vanishing into the outer wilderness of St Marychurch. Hopefully all will be done soon.