Wednesday, 28 February 2007
A bit later on I was heading out of Torquay towards Newton. As the route goes past Torre Station the road becomes two lane up to the lights at Shiphay Lane, then 30 yards after the lights it narrows down to one lane with the vehicles in the outside lane moving into the left lane. There are always those who use this spot to engage in the non-Olympic sport(1) of 'Getting in front of the bus no matter what the risk.' They come up on the outside and continue on the outside even though they have long since past the point they should have moved in. Now to get in they will have to force their way in by forcing me to brake hard or crash into them. Most points are scored by the drivers who go the furthest past the point they should have moved in, extra points are scored the harder the bus has to brake and bonus points are awarded to those who risk £25 000 cars that only came out of the show room yesterday. Anyone one a 20 year old Transit Van is ineligible for bonus points. Discretionary Bonus Points would most certainly have been showered generously on the driver who past me there to day. Not only did he make an almost record distance, as well as pressing fairly firmly on the brakes I also turned the wheel and ended 2 inches from the curb, his 9 seat people carrier was brand spanking new and for the extra points he had his wife in the front seat, 3 children in the middle row and baby and grandmother siting in the back row. Maybe he doesn't like them. What really baffles me about this sport at this spot is 2 things. 50 yards further on is a bus stop. When I stop, all may pass safely (maybe that's too tame). And if I didn't stop at the bus stop, 200 yards further on a stretch of dual carriageway where all but drivers of milk floats may pass the bus with complete ease (too easy?).
Next came 2 minutes later. As I approached the stop at Cadewell Lane I could see that there was no one at the stop and no one had rung the bell. As I got nearer to the stop I was aware that mother and two children were trying to cross the road on the right hand side, they were a 100 yards away when I first noticed them but there was traffic coming towards me preventing them from crossing. No one behind me so when I had gone they would have a clear road. They were a traffic hazard, you never know, one of the children could suddenly decide to run for it. So I kept an eye on them. It was only as I went past did mother decide to tell me she wanted the bus by putting her arm out. Sorry; no chance. Five seconds sooner, arm out, me pulled up at bus stop, them cross road, get on bus. Now I know that from her point of view it was obvious she wanted the bus. Why else would she be crossing the road near a bus stop. I know that now but as I approached, she was crossing the road to get to the other side. Remember as you drive down a road half the Universe is on the left and the other half is on the right. My bus is such a small part of the Universe and my ego isn't so large as to think that with half the Universe to choose from you actually want me. If you do; Please put your hand out.
The last thing that baffled me today was how come I always seem to spend 10 minutes waiting in the fuel line when I bring a bus into the garage in the evening.
None of these thing baffle me as much as Quantum Physics, but a few years and countless hours of study and I might begin to see the light at the beginning of the tunnel re Quantum Physics, the above; No.
Foot Note (1) The reason it isn't an Olympic Sport is because there would be just too many competitors.
Monday, 26 February 2007
Anyway, of they went down the hill towards Fleet St. They hadn't gone 50 yards when a 12A came up the hill. Fine for me but no use what ever for then. So what does he do when the bus stops to pick me and other passengers up. He comes running back up the hill towards the bus with baby buggy being pushed desperately some way behind. I shrugged my shoulders, it was another bus drivers problem now. "Wait." he shouted as he boarded the bus. "My wife's just coming." I'd gone and sat down by now, I'm out of it.
Wife was half on the bus with buggy when he asked the driver if the bus went to Brixham. The driver said, truthfully,"No." and started to tell him exactly what I had. He didn't bother to listen to the full instructions but turned to get off the bus almost tripping over baby in the buggy but still managing the proclaim loudly what everyone on the bus already knew. "We're on the wrong f****** bus."
I got to work and went about my job in my usually cheerful, content, happy way putting the incident out of my mind. Until that is a few hours later I turned up in Brixham driving a 12A. And guess who was there waiting for a bus. Right in one. He gets on and asks for two singles to Torquay. Now didn't I tell him to get DayRider tickets? Two DayRiders are £8.00, four single tickets to and from Brixham works out at £11.20. still more money for the company so whats the problem. Well there are two problems about travelling on this particular bus to Torquay. The first is it takes about 20 minutes longer than the 12. That alone is enough reason to wait for the 12. The second is that on the particular trip I was about to make I usually picked about 35 students up at South Devon College and then about 45 school children from Paignton Community College. Actually the children are generally very nice and better behaved than the students but they have just come out of school and tend to be a little noisy. I explained the first problem but was told, "We just want to get back to Torquay. This bus goes to Torquay?" So I admitted that it did and sold him the two singles. I am sure they enjoyed the trip as much as they enjoyed everything else they had done that day.
I should point out that incidents like this are rare; which is probably why I remember them.
Footnote (1) By Mr. C. Hilditch MD.
The present Managing Director, Mr Chris Hilditch who arrived in late 2002 didn't hold out much hope that we would get new buses any time before the next millenium. He did manage to persuade head office in Perth that we, the drivers not to mention the passengers could do with some new low floor buses on the 12 route, and the Tridents we are presently using arrived in March 2004. Still not sure if these Tridents are going to be replaced yet, after all they have only done 150 000 miles so far. We will just have to wait and see.
One little foot note, on the bus shelter there are some white screens to provide some shelter from the wind and rain. They were removed some time ago, (not by me!). I had forgotten about them.
Sunday, 25 February 2007
Saturday, 24 February 2007
My thanks to an artist (unknown) who put this cartoon up on the notice board at work.
Wednesday, 21 February 2007
It would seem that we are to get new buses down here in Torquay. I have had no official confirmation personally but enough people have said we are so we must be. The aging Trident that we have had for the last 3 years are going to Exeter and we are getting Enviro 400 's like the one pictured here at Ringway Airport last year. If you click on the link it takes you to Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 question and answer page and shows a 400 with entrance and exit doors which I hope we don't get down here. An other thing I hope we don't get are fixed security screens. All buses have security screens now adays. Most of our existing fleet have sliding screens which we leave open almost all of the time and us drivers like that choice. One or two of the fleet have fixed screens and we all feel that they come between us and the passengers and make life a little harder and in some cases passengers feel aggravated by the screens. In other words they can course more trouble than they are worth. Also I hope the electro-magnetic retarders that are fitted to the buses to aid braking are not as sharp as the ones fitted to the Tridents. They were sharp and took some getting used to. Oh yes, bigger water pumps would be a nice idea. We are having some over heating problems with the present buses.
Oh yes; I missed a couple of words out of the end of my last post:- at 28mph. Sorry about that.
Tuesday, 20 February 2007
Monday, 19 February 2007
I was heading for Paignton Bus Station, there should be a driver or two on their lunch with a bit of change to spare. No chance, too early for lunch. And there was a queue about a mile long. Most had Devon Wides and enough had the right money, some with a little prompting and a young girl got on and wanted a return to Torquay, £2.30 and was sorry but all she had was a pound in 5 pence pieces and the rest in 10 s and twenties. I gave here a nice smile and told her not to worry.
Later in the day I got to where I usually pick 50 school children up. Not a single child in sight, it's half term, isn't that nice. Half a mile futher down the road I was going down the hill in the Totnes Road, nothing in front of me and I went through a speed trap.
Friday, 16 February 2007
Wednesday, 14 February 2007
On the subject of keeping you posted, I ran an item about notices being placed in a spot on the buses that created a blind spot. It would appear that they have not been placed there by the usual employee who looks after notices on buses and the timetables on the bus stops and such like. A harder job than bus driving I can assure you. It seems some bored driver decided to practice his interior design skills during the quieter moments late at night. Well if you are reading this sir, or miss, or madam; you are not very good at it, prehaps you should take up suduko or bring a good book to work with you.
Tuesday, 13 February 2007
Monday, 12 February 2007
Sunday, 11 February 2007
I managed to upset a couple of passengers the other day and I wasn't even on the bus. I had gone down to the Newton Road close to the depot to take over a 12A coming from Newton. The bus was due at 15:55 so I had arrived at the stop 4 or 5 minutes before it was due. 3 or 4 minutes later a number 12A arrived at the stop but it wasn't mine; it was the bus in front of mine. The driver told me that the Newton Road through Kingskerswell was 'chocker', a usual state for this road. All roads have a point where they will grind to almost a halt due to volume of traffic, the Newton Road seems to reach this point a lot more often than most roads in the area. (Please note HM Government, please give us a by pass round Kingskerswell). So I sat down expecting a long wait for my bus which would now be an other 15 minutes. I wasn't disappointed in my expectation.
While I was waiting two people came out of Regent Close and began walking in the direction of the bus stop. Please note; walking towards a bus stop does not mean that you want the bus, putting your hand out does. They were 30 yards from the bus stop and one of them looked round. there was a bus in the distance and I had stood up in the hope that it was mine. No chance, as it got closer I could see it was a 12, I was after a 12A. So I sat down again, a sure sign that I did not want the bus. The two people were still walking quiet slowly in the direction of the bus stop, apparently without a care in the world. Until the approaching bus went by the stop at a steady 29.9 mph. Then and only then did they give any indication that they wanted the bus and then by swearing, loudly, I guess in Polish.
What I assume had happened was they saw me at the stop and expected the bus to stop and pick me up and they could have wandered up and got on the bus after me. Now the next bus should be the one I was taking over and due any minute. But the traffic on the Newton Road can come to a stop at the drop of a hat, especially at school run time when mum goes out to pick the kids up from school in a 4WD that is only slightly smaller than a bus and my bus took an other 12 minutes to arrive. And it was a cold day with a driving wind and steady drizzle with the 3 of us huddled in a stony silence in a very small bus shelter.
Moral of the story; if you want a bus then tell the driver. You can do this by concentrating very hard and thinking, ' I want the bus to stop.' over and over again until there is a danger that your brain will start to dribble out your ears in the hope that the bus driver is a mind reader.
Or you can put your hand out.
PS I am not the only driver who has problems with passengers not indicating that they want the bus, read busdriver jimmy for his account of the problem.
Friday, 9 February 2007
Thursday, 8 February 2007
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Tuesday, 6 February 2007
Monday, 5 February 2007
There is a rummer going round the depot that we are shortly getting some new buses. Now in the first 5 years I worked there this news would have been greeted with much interest as the only new buses we did get were in actual fact second or even third hand, they were just new to our depot. Over the last 3 years our Managing Director Mr Chris Hilditch has brought in dozens of new buses for us to play with. So today when I went into work and was told one of the new buses was outside and that I should go and take a photo of it I wasn't that interested. To me a bus is a bus provided it has powered steering and an automatic gearbox and a comfortable seat. Well I don't think this bus has powered steering or an automatic gearbox. Didn't sit in the seat but I am sure it is comfortable.
It is a 1962 Leyland PD2/37 and is in the colours of Halifax Corporation. I did ask if it was going to be repainted in Stagecoach colours before it went out on service. I think the answer was No!
I took 5 or 6 photos, if you are into buses and would like copies of these, or any other photos that appear here email me and I will send them to you.
Saturday, 3 February 2007
Friday, 2 February 2007
Then I get to South Devon College and the work starts. In the next hour I certainly earn my money. About 30 students get on heading home after a hard days studying. Then down through Roselands and Tweenaway Cross as the late afternoon traffic is building up to Paignton Zoo where I pick up about 50 school children from Paignton Community College. They are all about 12 and 13 and mostly very nice and polite but that many children all together on a bus can make a lot of noise. School runs going to school in the morning are usually very quiet as the poor little darlings contemplate the next 6 hours of enforced learning and when all they would sooner be playing computer games or chicken on the motorway. Anyway the bus is full by this time so the rare pleasure occurs when I can ride past a stop with people waiting for the bus without having to stop.
About 300 yards after I have picked the children up there is a Junior school and the road is partly blocked by a line of 4 wheel drives as mother comes to rescue their little darling and save him/her the rigours of walking home or worse still getting the bus home. Still it gives mother something to do. It also is the biggest single cause of traffic congestion in the known universe.
Now I did this duty yesterday, Thursday and a nice surprise awaited me. Usually it is a tight fit getting past all the 4 wheel drives and the increasingly impatient oncoming drivers of company cars anxious to get to the last business meeting of the day and white van drivers desperate to make the last delivery so they can be home before rush hour starts and the late mother looking manically for the last parking spot so little Tracy wont feel abandoned as all her friends are whisked away in some gas guzzling 4wd off road vehicle about half the size of the bus. The only time these vehicles go off road is when mum parks two nearside wheels on the pavement because if she didn't she would completely block the road and even she isn't that daft. Err, I might modify that later.
Anyway, back to the surprise. There were lots of police there, moving mother on and the road was clear so I, in one vehicle could move 90 people instead of mum in 90 vehicles could move 90 people. Nice.
Went back today. The police must have been required else where or they don't know the meaning of persistence as there was the usually line, half on the pavement and half on the road and all the usual drivers coming the other way, all who have but one idea. Get through before the bus. Even if they kill some one. As I drive, sorry squeeze, past I harbour a secret hope that one of the mums will decide to test the strength of her door against a bus now weighing 16 tonnes with all the people I've got on and open the damn thing. No such luck so far but one can live in hope.
Thursday, 1 February 2007
Since I became a bus drive I have remembered the times when the bus engines would drown out the TV and have always switched the engine off when waiting time. I have asked drivers who don't, why not. The most common answer is, "It might not start again." My answer has always been, "So. You get half an hours extra rest while the fitters come out and get the bus going again."
Today I got my half hour's extra rest. I went into Paignton Bus Station and had 3 minutes to wait so switched the engine off. (Note; this also helps save the planet as well as all those expensive windows) Time to go. Well the starter motor turned but did not engage. Fortunately there was an other bus in 8 minutes so the passengers did not have to wait too long. Sorry to those who did have to wait though.
It is the first time in well over two years I have had this happen but I will still continue to switch the engine off when waiting time. It did inconvenience about 20 passengers but leaving it running can upset everyone who lives within 50 metres of a bus terminus up to 100 times a day on a busy route like the 12/12A.
PS I only wish it had happened at 3pm instead of 11am. I would have missed my school run, don't you just love school runs?
PPS Werther is still traveling on the bus.