Wednesday, 31 October 2007

A Change Is As good As A Rest.

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

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 One bus was hit so many times on the front windscreen the passengers had to be put on the next bus and that bus withdrawn from service.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

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

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

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

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

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

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

Pavement Parking

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

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

Monday, 29 October 2007

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

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

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

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Parking Attendants Love Cars Parked Like This.

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

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

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

A Question for You.

Which is the longest month in the year?

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

Friday, 26 October 2007

This And That From An Average Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Still Running Late

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

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

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

Tickets and Tides

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

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

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

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Chaos On the Twelve Route

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

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

Sunday, 21 October 2007

100 years of public transport in Torbay.

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

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

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

Saturday, 20 October 2007

From the Herald Expess

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

Friday, 19 October 2007

Stagecoach takeover rumours

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Life Saver; that's me.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Oh My God

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

Blowing My Own Trumpet

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

Monday, 15 October 2007

Manner from Heaven

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

Child Tickets

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

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

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

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

A Plastic Bag

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or 1.2 times 10 to the power 12.

Or 1000101110101100100101110000000000000 in binary number.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think long term like me.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Timetable Changes (Slight)

Here we have two 12/12A timetables.

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

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

Thursday, 11 October 2007

A Day Off.

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

Some of the almost wild life up on Berry Head.

Around Torbay (Limited addition)

Odd one the other day, gent gets on in Union Street at the top end of Torquay and asks if I go to the Harbour. Me being a truthful chap admit that the bus does indeed go to the Harbour. He produces an Around Torbay free bus pass and I press the right buttons and the ticket machine produces a ticket to the Harbour. When we get there 3 minutes later he comes up and asks if I go to Belgrave Rd which is 3 stops and 2 minutes up the road. Once again I am forced to admit I do. So, new ticket to Belgrave Rd. Well we get to Belgrave Rd and at my left shoulder appears my new best friend. Do I go to the Grand Hotel, one stop further on? I am beginning to see a pattern here and ask the gent exactly where he wants to go. “Paignton.” Which is 3 miles and 13 more stops away. This could take hours!

I explain that I can give him a ticket that will take him all the way to Paignton so he doesn’t have to keep getting a new ticket every time we come to a stop. With a little reluctance he agrees. Two stops down the road the bell goes and you can guess who is come down the bus. He gets off. Perhaps he really didn’t want to go to Paignton after all.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Newton Abbot Bus Park.

The video shot below was taken at Newton Abbot Bus Park which used to be a bus station where buses went in and dropped passengers off at the end of their journey and picked up new passengers to convey them to their destination. More often it is turning into a bus park where drivers leave their buses while they go for their rest breaks. Two bus companies use this bus station, Stagecoach and Country Bus, and something needs to be done soon or those of us who would like to get in and get out with the minimum of delay will find ourselves stranded in the road way outside the bus station more and more often.

(Double click to start)

Oh look the 182 is going, we may be able to get into the bus station now!

Monday, 8 October 2007


In a previous post I included a section from the Highway Code about letting buses pull away from bus stops. Some one has asked a question concerning the road out to Brixham at Quaywest. This junction is one of those mad situations where there is one lane approaching the traffic lights but 50 metres from the lights it widens to two lanes. Then 50 metres after the traffic lights it reduces to one lane. What happens at this junction is all the 'must get in front of the bus' drivers move out into the 2nd lane and try and get in front of the bus, and any cars that have stayed in the left lane. Part of the problem is the road goes through a bit of a dog leg here and try as we might it is not possible to stay in the left hand lane as we go through the lights. It is not our fault, there just isn't enough room. Anyway once we are through this bit there is now space for cars to accelerate like mad and get past us. OK if there isn't much traffic on the road but when it is busy the only way the cars can move back into the left as the two lanes narrow down to one is by forcing themselves in front of the bus forcing us to brake hard. Not nice to our passengers. So some bus drivers sometimes adopt the tactic of moving out and using both lanes so the cars can not overtake and force us to put our passengers at risk by having to brake hard just so they can get in front of the bus. If a car does overtake a bus here all the driver is doing is shortening the time it takes to get from these lights to the YMCA (400 metres up the road) by a second. If the car can not overtake all that happens if it is following the bus along the road at 30 mph until the bus pulls in at the Waterside Stop. Then the car behind goes past and is now following the car he would have been following if he had managed to overtake. Journey time in either case; exactly the same! The difference is I will not have had to slam on my ******* brakes to avoid on accident.

Actually I did have an accident here not too long ago when a car pulled across as the road began to narrow. I was stationary but the car driver didn't take in to account the fact that he was towing a trailer. Click for details.

If you think hard enough about letting the bus out you will see that in most cases it will not make the slightest difference to the length of your journey. Suppose you are 5th vehicle in a group of 10 following a red car. Let the bus out, now here is the problem, to do so you must slow down. Now you are 6th vehicle in a group of 11. The bus pulls over at the next stop. You go past it. You are now following the red car again and you are once again 5th vehicle in a group of 10. Exactly where you were before you let the bus out. But the problem is you had to slow down for a short while to let the bus out. This makes you feel your journey time has got longer. Even if it did by a few seconds what would you have done with those few seconds? Re-write War and Peace?

Torquay Athletic Rugby Under 10s

Well the boys played their first game of the season against Brixham. Torquay in the red. They didn't do as well as hoped, ending up 4 tries to nil after 30 minutes of Rugby. This season is the first season they are allowed to push in the scrums (only a 3 boy scrum as yet) and they didn't quiet get it right loosing most of the scrums to a strong Brixham pack. Still plenty of time to work on their scrums. Apart from this problem they played as well as the Brixham boys with some good open play and passing. Apart from loosing it was an entertaining game and was enjoyed by the players and spectators alike on a fine sunny morning which we get so often here in Torquay.
The team are sponsored by Stagecoach in Devon and The Belgrave Hotel as last year and by a new sponsor TaxiFast of Torquay (01803 60 60 60) who I trust you will use on those rare occasions when the bus just wont do.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Duty from Hell

Sorry, Duty from Hell is a bit over the top, quiet a lot over the top really. One day I will dream up a duty from hell just for the fun of it. Any what I had today Saturday was Duty 3608. It started at 10:55 on the Harbour, my bus arrived on time at 11:11 and I went to Brixham as a 12A. Took a bit less than an hour. Then from Brixham to the depot on the Newton Road for 13:17 for a 49 minute lunch. That's not bad I hear you say, well actually I don't hear you but I can imagine someone somewhere saying that.

Then at 14:17 from the depot to Brixham, 5 minutes there and away to Newton. So for so good. Then back to Brixham. I left Brixham at 18:01 and so have been going for just under 4 hours on the second half of the duty, Can't be much more to do now. Just up to Newton for 19:04. Thirteen minutes short of FIVE HOURS.(1) At least the 20 minute drive back from Newton to the depot to finish was done dead (2) which was about how I was feeling. Now had this duty been the other way round, 5 hours 7 minutes in the first half and 2 hours 6 minutes in the second half it would have been a piece of cake. Shedulers(3) please note; long first half, short second half, good. Other way round, not good.

Footnote 1 If we really were in the EU this would be a sick bird of the type found in Scotland. Footnote 2 Running Dead is nothing to do with working for an undertaker.
Footnote 3 The computers which work out our duties.

This post is addressed to those car drivers who never let the bus out.

From the latest edition of the Highway Code.
Buses, coaches and trams. Give priority to these vehicles when you can do so safely, especially when they signal to pull away from stops. Look out for people getting off a bus or tram and crossing the road.

This replaces the some what wishy washy, "Please let the bus out if safe to do so." That was a request, not an instruction which you, and the hundred drivers behind you could totally ignore without a care in the world. Now it is an instruction, it says, Give priority if safe. So if you are a 100 metres back from the bus waiting to pull away from a bus stop, you must give way because it is safe to do so. If a car is travelling at 30 mph (14 metres per second) it will take 7 seconds to travel 100 metres, lift of the accelerator and that time increases to 10 seconds, plenty of time for a bus to pull out and accelerate to 30 mph. For some reason car drivers think they are holding the bus driver up if they don't let the bus out. No they are not, they are holding up the passengers on the bus. Hold them up for long enough and they will all get fed up of how long bus journeys take and go out and buy a car. That would put thousands of more cars on the road and that is just in Torquay alone. The roads would become car parks. Do you want that? No! Well get used to letting us out.

Friday, 5 October 2007

New Duties and Traffic

We started our winter duties on Sunday, not exactly happy with them. For one thing I am permanently on a Middle Rota. When we started on this rota, middle duties were those that finished by 8 pm. There have always been the old later finish, one or two, over the years but now 66% of the duties finish after 8pm and an other little point that I wouldn't normally bring up is that 20% of the remaining duties start before 8 am. A simple subtraction sum produces a figure of 14% of my middle duties are actually middle duties. All that glitters is not gold though there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, they will get changed again next May. Please for the better; or even sooner would be better.

Today we had a good, sunny, warm day. The sort we could have done with in August. Everyone who could got in their cars and came to the Bay for a drive. Every time I went round a bend it was foot on break and gently roll to a stop and contemplate yet an other line of stationary traffic vanishing into the distance. As pulling back on the steering wheel and pretending the bus was a helicopter didn't work we ran a little bit late today. Sorry if you were held up, we weren't in the canteen drinking coffee I promise.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Topless Buses

Most bus companies call their open top buses, "Open Top Buses". Not River Link. Perhaps in an attempt to entice passengers aboard they call their open top buses "Topless Bus." Is this pandering to base tastes?

Monday, 1 October 2007

Computers; Love them, Hate them.

Yesterday my computer crashed. Now if I had said my bus crashed that would be a different thing entirely but my computer is not in the habit of jumping red lights or speeding or hitting cars that do U turns in front of it or any of those things that lead to crashs so what I mean is it wouldn’t work. Now when a bus breaks down I know what to do. I turn everything off and wait 2 minutes and try again. Well I did that with the computer and it still didn’t work, like the bus with a puncture. After I have turned everything of on the bus and tried again I get on the radio and explain the problem to control and sit back and wait for them to do something about it. I’m sorry for the passengers on the bus, they will have to wait for the next bus, I feel sorry for the passengers waiting down the line, they will have to wait a bit longer, I feel sorry for the bus driver behind, he will have to carry my passengers and explain to the passengers further up the road why he appears to be late. But the computer broken down is a different matter. I feel like my hands have been chopped off. Worse still I don’t know what to do except shout, “Help” very loudly and hope. Then I went and did what I do when a bus breaks down, I asked a controller who happens to know a lot more than I do about how computers work and he told me how to fix it and as you can see I have fixed it. Spent most of the day, a day off, doing it but it works again. Got an other day off tomorrow and it is pouring down now and is forecast to continue pouring down tomorrow. However it will be fine on Tuesday when I am back at work.

Just to mention something about buses; the new time tables started today.