Wednesday, 31 January 2007
The changes that effect me are I have lost one early start but go an other even earlier start at 0702 which regular readers will know is the middle of the night to me. I have lost the one late turn I did so that is a good thing. The down side is I have lost just over 2 hours a week so I will need to work one rest day a month to make up for this in Wages. We haven seen the running boards yet so I don't know what horrors await on the actual duties. Time as they say, will tell.
The Werther's haven't gone yet, a controller tried to claim them when I went to pay in but he hadn't got on the bus so he didn't get them. OK the cat isn't 'sweet' but I love him, most of the time.
Monday, 29 January 2007
Years ago, in an attempt to increase sale some newspaper or other, I think it was the Mirror, used to publish a picture of an employer who would then wander about the streets of a holiday resort with a pocket full of Five Pound Notes. This was back in the days when £5 was a lot of money. (What am I saying. £5 is still a lot of money.) All you had to do to get a fiver was have a copy of the paper and walk up to the man and say, "You are Lobby Ludd, and give me my fiver."
So I have decided to copy the Mirror give the Werther's away to the first person who gets on the bus and admits to reading this blog and thinks my cat is sweet.
Please note there is only one packet so don't be disappointed if it has gone.
Sunday, 28 January 2007
Just about to go out and the road report comes on on Radio Devon; Hele Road and Newton Road are closed due to an RTC. (1). Hele Road is just down from the depot, going to be big delays. But I need the batteries and the washer. Get to the depot, no sign of any delays. Radio Devon, or the police had exaggerated the size of the crash and the road was clear. Into work, chat with on duty drivers, coffee, more chat. Anything to put of the moment when the spanners come out and a tap comes apart in my hand with some important bit or other vanishing down the plug hole.
An hour later into Focus, so many different washers. How can there be so different sizes, thicknesses, types of materials, size of holes in the middle, descriptions of use and names. I should have taken the old washer off and brought it with me. I will next time, no; there wont be a next time. One changed tap washer in a lifetime is enough. (It comes 887th in any list of a thousand things to do before it's too late to do anything). Have a guess. Get home and get spanners out. Have a cup of coffee, switch computer on and do lesson 4,5, and 6 in Spanish for Beginners. Feed cat. Isn't he nice. When he looks at me like that it isn't love and affection he is radiating. It's "Feed me or I'll go and catch a rat, eat it and be sick all over your bed."
So the tap. It was dead simple when I finally got round to doing it, except that the washer didn't fit so I had to put the tap back together again with the old washer on and go out and buy the right sized washer, take the tap apart again and put on a washer that did fit. So now it doesn't drip. Water bill should go down about 5p a year. Doing my bit to Save the Planet.
Note 1 RTC = Road Traffic Collision. It used to be RTA; Road Traffic Accident but the police have finally reached accident in their dictionary.
Note 2 It is 00:41 so I will get round to the photo tomorrow.
Friday, 26 January 2007
This is a bus in Paignton Bus Station. It is due out in a few minutes and the driver has just got on. He has been on his meal break and the passengers were there waiting when he got on the bus. What he was doing when I took the photo is setting up his ticket machine. What this entails is pressing a few buttons on the machine's keypad. But, for some reason unknown to me, and probably the waiting passengers, he has shut his doors. Does he think they are going to watch what he is doing and sell the information to FirstBus?
The second photo is of an advert on the side of some of our buses. The text in the yellow box is explaining how Kevin, the Harbour Master really likes working on Torquay Harbour because of all the improvements that are to be found there. Will all the summer visitors be given a pair of binoculars just like the ones Kevin has so they can find all the new attractions too?
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
Now I am certain that any bus passengers out there will have had this happen. And some of the time it will be as shown in the ad. The driver could have waited but didn't. But there are times when the bus pulls away as you run up and the driver couldn't stop. He may not have seen you coming until after he started moving. Even then he might have stopped. But there are points when continuing is the only option on the grounds of road safety.
Such an incident happened to me the other day. I had taken over a bus on Cary Parade in Torquay. After I had programed the ticket machine and adjusted the seat I had 4 minutes to wait. Like I said, it's quiet at the moment. The passengers on the bus, if they are regular travellers know about timing points. But it can still be frustrating sitting there doing nothing. You could here the sigh of relief when I finally started the engine. Into gear, look round for anyone running up with shopping bags, check mirror, road clear, pull out and at that moment the two runners appeared round the corner waving. Did I stop? No. I had reached the point where I was committed to go. Well if looks could have killed, not only would I not be typing this but the intensity of the woman's stare would have wiped out all my passengers as well. I am not sure what the man was shouting at me but when I got to the terminus I had a look at the paint on the side of the bus to make sure it wasn't blistered. And the age of my missed passengers, well into their seventies. And the next bus is due in 7 minutes.
Next day who came running up to the bus just as I shut the door? I recognised them as the ran up waving madly. Did I pretend I hadn't seen them and drive away? No. Reason? I'm a nice guy and oh yes; I don't like Horlicks.
PS. For an update on the Napoli. It could be a year before it is cleared away.
Monday, 22 January 2007
Well normally yes. But today I heard the full story. What had happened was the driver had stopped to pick up passengers but had also noticed that rare event. Someone upstairs was causing trouble so the driver switched the engine off and went upstairs to sort the problem out. An N.C.P. Parking Attendant came round the corner and seeing a bus with engine switched off and no driver in the cab assumed the bus had been parked there and started to write out a ticket. The driver came down stairs and explained what was happening. As anyone who has parked a car and come back to find the parking attendant writing out a ticket will know, the parking guy said, "I've started so I will finish."
Bit like bus drivers, once we start to pull away from a bus stop there is a certain reluctance to stop and pick up the poor sod who comes running up at the last second plus 3. This is for reasons of road safety, it can be dangerous to stop suddenly when the driver behind has let you out and expects you to keep going. Me? I usually keep going even though I don't like Horlicks.
PS For the latest on the Napoli click here
Sunday, 21 January 2007
One thing the bad weather has given us if the potential for serious pollution 35 miles along the coast. The ship Napoli with 2334 containers and a few thousand tonnes of oil got into trouble on Thursday last week and was beached a couple of days ago at Beer Head, which is to the North East of Torquay. The idea was that the containers and the oil could be removed, the ship repaired and sail away. No one told the weather that plan. Strong winds and high seas have damaged the ship even more and many of the containers and a few hundred tonnes of oil are now floating round Lyme Bay. Tomorrow the wind is 12 mph and from the east which means there is a possibility that some of the pollution could end up in our very own Torbay. We put our trust in the Environment Agency and the Salvage crews who are working to contain the damage this ship could cause.
The other TV program I watched with interest was presented by Sir David Attenborough (the man who has been everywhere) and it was about the predicted effects of the changes in the weather that we have been noticing for the last 25 years but done nothing about. First he explain what we could expect the weather to be like in 2020 even if we did everything possible to reduce the amount of Greenhouse Gases entering the atmosphere. Nothing catastrophic. We weren't all going to died of heat, just the elderly and the very young would be most at risk. As I will, hopefully come into one of those categories by 2020 I was very interested. Summer heat waves would occur every year and people living in Spain would make plans to come and live in England when they retire. Temperatures would stay over 30C for much of July and August. Winters would be milder but wetter and flooding would be common on low lying land. Sewers would be unable to cope with the extra rain and our streets would be awash with stuff we though we had seen the last of when we flushed the loo.
Then he moved on the predictions for 2050 and I lost a personal interest in the matter though I continued to be fascinated by the rising sea levels and lack of imported goods from countries that were now (2050) under water. And this I think in the biggest problem with Global Warming. Tony Blair and George Bush will not be leading their respective Nations in two years never mind 43 years so why should they make themselves unpopular with the public by banning the car. Hilary Clinton will be gone as President by 2016 so she isn't going to make herself unelectable by promising to shut down every airline in the US the moment she is elected. And who do I know that will be alive in 2080 when the really serious stuff starts to happen, like London and the east coast being only visible at low tide and wars start braking out as starving billions from the Third World look for some where to live that isn't either under 10 metres of water or turned into a desert.
Back in 1954 in Junior 3 we were doing geography. The teacher was pointing to all the red bits on the map and explaining that they were part of the British Empire. Except for Hong Kong, which were had on a long term lease from China. Which expired in 1997. I put my hand up and asked what would happen to all the people who lived there in 1997. The teacher laughed and said 1997 was a long time away. I again put my hand up and said that children my age would be 54 in 1997 and again asked what would happen to them. I spent the rest of the lesson standing in the corridor. (Don't ask teacher questions she carn't answer).
Someone born today, 21 Jan 2007 will be 73 in 2080, a child born to them when they are 30 will be 43 in 2080 and their grand child born when they are 60 will be 13. What will they say about us? It will not be nice. But will we care?
Here endth the lesson.
Saturday, 20 January 2007
The other story is a lot closer to home and involves a ship that got into trouble in the Channel on Thursday in the gales that hit the British Isles with winds up to 80 km.p.h. The crew abandoned ship and tug boats towed it ashore 20 miles up the coast so it could be unloaded safely.
Quiet on the buses today.
Friday, 19 January 2007
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
Tuesday, 16 January 2007
There is a slight problem going this way. Between Brixham and Paignton there are only two places where a car can overtake the bus. The first is on a 300 yard stretch of two lane, duel carriageway road between the bottom of Cherry Brook Rd and Waterside Holiday Park. This section used to be a 40 mph speed limit road but the council made the left lane into a bus lane and reduced the speed limit to 30. This is about two miles from the centre of Brixham and a pick up truck had been following me all the way from Brixham, and to use an American expression, tailgating me. When I got to the duel carriageway I continued in the outside lane and the pick up could not overtake me. Then the road became one lane again for an other mile before getting to the lights at Penwill Way, which were on red. There are two lanes there and I used the left lane.
The pick up truck stopped next to me in the right hand lane and got out of his truck and started shouting at me for holding him up. I pointed out that I had been driving at the speed limit all the way from Brixham so how could I have been holding him up? He screamed that I should have used the bus lane. I tried to explain but the lights had now changed so I drove on. By the time he got back in to his truck his window of opportunity for overtaking had gone and he was stuck behind me once again. The next place he could get past me was now an other 4 miles down the road. He should have stayed in his truck.
What he did not know was that dead bus are not allowed to use bus lanes. They are for local buses in service only. Sorry about that, pick up truck driver.
Sunday, 14 January 2007
Then we had an accident involving a motor bike and a car which brought traffic heading from Torquay to Brixham to a very slow crawl.One of the problems with the Bay is the main road tends to be to only way and if it is blocked traffic stops.It was late on in the afternoon when most people had given up and gone home so not too many people were held up.
To those who were, "Sorry."
Friday, 12 January 2007
Double decker buses come under the category of high sided vehicle. High sided vehicles are often reported blown over on Motorways in the kind of winds we had to day. 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. It was also raining cats and dogs. It is very unlikely that a bus will be blown over due to the fact that most of the 11.5 tonne weight is low down. I have seen pictures of buses leaning over at 15 degrees without falling on their side. That doesn't stop them being blown about in high wind and we have a stretch of road on the way to Brixham known as Windy Corner and it certainly lived up to it's name to day. Not dangerous but you needed to concentrate.
Wednesday, 10 January 2007
Why do they call it a Rest Day?
Back at work tomorrow thank god.
Tuesday, 9 January 2007
The two cars in front of me are displaying one of the two annoying tendencies that drivers show when stuck in traffic jams. The first is to get as close to the car in front as possible as this gives the impression that they are making progress. The second is to move out under the mistaken impression that by having a look at the problem ahead will some how make it go away. Note; the white van driver (everyone's pet hate) hasn't moved out and has left me plenty of room to get past. Might have problems getting past the bus though.
Enough on Preston Road Works. Unless there is a real big problem there over the next week.
What else has been happening recently, Oh yes, still raining. It has rained ever day so far this year. Getting to be like the Amazon Rain Forest. And last night the temperature fell right down to 11C. Which is the warmest January night time temperature on record. Either Global Warming is on it's way or as most Western Governments hope, it's just a glitch in the weather. My money is on the global thingamabob.
Monday, 8 January 2007
Some buses were delayed, I was about 15 minutes down at one point but I did hear on the radio that others were upto 30 minutes down. Why can't they do these road works on Christmas Day and Boxing Day when we don't run a bus service? Make it easier all round.
Saturday, 6 January 2007
That was Thursday, on Friday I did the same duty and morning went by with no problems, lunch went by with no problems, then early afternoon someone knocked some scaffolding down in Newton Bus Station and the place was closed for an hour while all the poles were moved out of the way and buses were all over the place. Then at one stage I picked up 40 students from South Devon College followed by 40 pupils from Paignton Community College plus 10 others and was heading for the bus station where any other 50 passengers awaited me when this happened. An other of the "I can park anywhere."brigade.
As the controller said when I reported the problem, "That's all we need." I bet he was thinking a little more that that. I know I was. When the driver turned up he did say "Sorry, didn't know buses came down here."
There is a story in the local paper about the scaffolding and how it came to be knocked down. The photo shows the scaffolding and a parked car on the other side of the exit road. The car wasn't there on Friday, it was a van that was parked there. An other contributing factor is the length of time it has taken for the toilet block to be built. I have a photo of the silver birch tree cut down in September and the first photo showing building going on was taken Oct 25. For a building 10 feet by 10 feet by 12 feet high that seems pretty slow. If the Great Wall of China had been built at this speed it would be a mile and a half long and not visible from the next hill never mind from space.
Not a great deal of room here for a double decker.