Sunday, 29 April 2007
I know I wasn't going to mention the Young Farmers again but the news from Kent prompts me to ask, Young Farmers or Earthquake? Looking at the damage and reading the stories of people caught up in the earthquake I have to say; "Come back any time you like." to the Young Farmers. Next week if you wish, no problem.
The Newton road between Torquay and Newton Abbot is a two lane, single carriageway, 40 mph road. It is one of the busiest roads in the South West. Just about everyone agrees that we need a bypass round Kingskerswell, shown in the picture. Even David Cameron, that well known cyclist and also believed by some to be boss of the Tory party thinks we should have a bypass. The Department for Transport agree we should have a bypass but every time we ask for the money, they ask us to do a traffic count as the last one we did is now two years out of date. So the traffic count is done at great cost to the local councils and the send the figures sent off to the Department for Transport who also agree we need a bypass but unfortunate there isn't any money available, please ring back in a year or two. When we do they say yes but your last traffic count is now out of date, could you do an other one. The process then gets repeated every two years. The money we have spent so far on traffic counts would have paid for half the bypass.
Anyway the only way to go fast on this road is to believe that 5 mph is fast or buy a motor bike. Some of those who have chosen the latter now believe that doing 80 mph on blind bends 3 feet over the double white lines while overtaking a line of vehicles is the fast track to immortality. If having a bunch of flowers tied to a lamp post at the site of your accident is immortality than go for it. In order to be seen to be doing something about this problem the local council (Devon C.C. I think) have erected this and similar notices along the road. What the notices should say is, "Bikers, Please be aware that there are car drivers ahead who have been stuck on this road for hours and might suddenly decide to open their car doors and get out and have a picnic to pass the time. So watch out." or, "Bikers, There is an other idiot just like you coming the other way 3 feet over the double white line overtaking a line of slow moving vehicles, travelling at 60 mph and he just may be driving a bus. So watch out."
Saturday, 28 April 2007
Now the question is this. They arrived yesterday and started drinking instantaneously till sun rise this morning, then they started drinking again at 11 am and are out there now (12 mid night) still drinking. They are here for a conference. When exactly is the conference going to be held as the are going home tomorrow. OK. I know there are only 3 items on the agenda; 1) How to screw as much money as possible out of the EU farm budget. 2) Do you need a condom when having sex with ewe know who? and 3) the perennial favourite, Is it safe to share a sheep. That's share by the way, not shear.
Anyway I have a day off tomorrow (Sunday) so unless there is something big to report, no more about the Young Farmers till next year; hopefully to report that they aren't coming back. Ever.
To take your mind off the YFs, here is a nice photo taken some where in Torbay.
Thursday, 26 April 2007
Question is, how did the gent, who needed the stick to get on the bus manage to get of the bus without it.
Are our buses the scene of a Miracle? Will crowds flock down to the West Country in the hope of a cure?
Will we cope?
Tuesday, 24 April 2007
"Well sir, if you are driving then you need to follow this road round to the right and at the Clock Tower roundabout you need to go all the way round and come back the way you came. Drive along the road you can see the other side of this central reservation to the next roundabout where you should turn right, the second exit. Follow that road until you reach the traffic lights, not the pedestrian lights but the traffic lights. Turn right there, taking the road that is at a right angle to the one you are on not the road that doubles back on it's self. Go up there to the next lights and turn right again. At the next lights go straight on. After that the road goes down a hill. At the bottom of the hill follow the road round to the left, you can only go to the left but it is now a one way street but you need to be in the right hand lane so you can take the first road on the right. That is an other one way street but stay in the right lane as you need to turn right at the bottom. Now you need to get in the left lane as you are going to take the 3rd turning on the left. Still with me sir? You should now be in a road with lots of shops on both sides. If you aren't then you have gone wrong some where and you should stop and ask someone. Anyway, next lights turn left but take the road to the right as soon as you have turned. Nearly there. Follow through until you come to what looks like a roundabout but it isn't actually a roundabout. As you go round you will see Tesco's on your left but there is no where to park. There is only one road you can take from here, Abbey Rd. Drive up there. There are some one hour parking bays on the right. You should find somewhere to park there but don't be to long or a Parking Attendant will stick a £60.00 F.P.N. on you car they are very keen round here. Should take about 15 mins. Got all that?"
A slow nod, a second or two to think. "What if I walk?"
"Oh that's dead easy, first left, Tesco's is at the top on the right. Can't miss it. Take about 2 mins."
Sunday, 22 April 2007
Paignton Bus Station isn't very big. The buses drive on to their stop and then after letting everyone off and on, they reverse off. Problem is there is a fairly large garage in the way. This didn't present too much of a difficulty but now we have more buses going in and out of the station and we are using longer buses which have less room to swing round. Here the driver and controller examine the slight damage done to the bus after it had made contact with the garage wall. They didn't bother looking at the garage wall. With all the marks it would be hard work to know which one had just been placed there.
Plan A is that at some time soon, that's soon in human terms not tectonic plate movement terms, the Bus Station is going to be pulled down and rebuilt. Or maybe Plan B, which is let it fall down and then rebuild it.
Saturday, 21 April 2007
What I used to do in this situation would be to give the customer £7.95 and ask then to get the remaining £10 from me when we get to Paignton. But on the 09:33 run to Paignton it is unlikely that I will take 10 pence never mind £10. The reason is it has just gone 9:30 and the free bus passes* can be used and I am the first bus out of Torquay they can be used on and I know there will be free bus passes* at every stop between here and Paignton and even though I will carry 40 passengers or more the £2.05 will probably be the only fare I will take.
Today was slightly different, as I was counting out the change, I had exhausted the pound coins and the fifty pence pieces and was most of the way through the 20 pence pieces and could see I would have to get down to the ten pence’s, a family of 5 boarded the bus. Mother was holding 3 five pound notes and has seen what was going on and was waving them about, “Are these any use?” She wanted a family day explorer, £16.00. The change was spared. Some times the gods do smile on bus drivers.
The photo is of the Clock Tower on the old Town Hall. It gets wound up every week but the council have discovered holes in the roof that could let rain in that may get in the electrics and the volunteer winder could be electrocuted and might sue the council. So no one may wind the clock up until the holes have been fixed. So the clock will come to a stand still some time this week. A bit like Torquay.
* Not free at all. Some one has to pay for it and it's not Gordon Brown. Mean sod.
Thursday, 19 April 2007
Over 1.2m people are killed in road traffic accidents around the world each year, according to a report.
Figures from the World Health Organization and the World Bank suggest another 50m people may be left injured by crashes annually.
That's one person in every 5000 world wide will die in a road traffic accident between now and next April 20th.
In the UK that figure will be one in 17000. To put that an other way, five of the 90 000 people who attend the Wembley Cup Final this year won't get the chance to next year.
I just thought you might like to think about that next time you are out there on the road.
11:00 - 19 April 2007
The Young Farmers will be back in the resort next week for their annual conference bringing an estimated £2 million into the Bay's economy.
More than 3,500 delegates from the National Federation of Young Farmers are expected for the three-day convention which starts at the Riviera International Conference Centre on Friday April 27.The visitors will be tucking into food sourced from the South West as they debate meaty topics such as climate change and food and tourism among other topics.Tourism bosses say the conference is an important boost for the Torbay economy and will ensure tourism businesses continue the great start to the season they enjoyed over Easter.
The above is from the local paper. Below is from me.
The Young Farmers were here 4 years ago and the 3 days they spent here were memorable for their attempts, successful in a lot of cases, to lowering the tone of the place and just about everyone said NEVER AGAIN. They were here last year and their behaviour was much improved after strong warnings but some hotels are still refusing to take them in and after several incidents on buses around the Bay I wish I could refuse to carry them.
But still, cash is what matters.
Wednesday, 18 April 2007
Second half was almost over when a would be passenger got on in Abby Road. He wasn't irate when he got on but he very quickly became irate. Me, I just smiled all the way through the incident, it was one of those moments that makes this job so wonderful. When the passenger got on he politely informed me that his ticket was an explorer, which was a good job because he passed it in front of my face at the sort of speed boy racers go through amber lights, the world champion speed reader could not have read the details on the ticket it went by so fast. He also couldn't have read them because my hopeful passenger had his fingers over most of the ticket. Now I have never seen anyone try this trick before (well not for a week at least) so it took me about a nano second to come to the conclusion that perhaps this ticket wasn't exactly what this muppet claimed it to be. I called him back and irateness began to surface. "What do you mean? You want to see my ticket. I just showed you the f**king thing."
"Well kind sir", I smiled. "Show it me again, please." Politeness doesn't cost anything. He did. It had yesterdays date on it and it wasn't even an explorer. Just a single that most people throw away when they sit down. "That's what the bus driver gave me" he claimed. I haven't heard that one for at least two weeks. "Please sir, get off the bus." was the trigger to total irateness. Language I haven't heard for at least a month issued from from this no longer would be passenger's mouth that would have made a nun blush, unfortunately no nuns on the bus. For some reason he called me an Afgan, can't work that one out. Me I just smiled and thanked him for his kind words and as I shut the door I expressed a wish the he should, "Have a nice day." I really meant it too, I'm kind like that.
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
A day off doesn't always mean a visit to the pub. Some times it's a stroll round town taking a few interesting photos. Like this one in Fleet Walk. Actually I was sitting in a pub, The Cider Press, having a quiet pint. Across the road from the pub there are some shops and reflected in the window of one of the shops I could see what appeared to be a disturbance outside. So I grabbed the camera and went out to find that one of the security personnel from the local Tesco had detained an alleged shoplifter. Mind you when I spoke to the security man later he missed out the word alleged. He can be seen here holding the suspect down while using his radio to call for backup, or maybe the police. He didn't actually look like he needed much backup. A job well done with the minimum of fuss.
After that I went back in the Cider Press to finish my drink.
The Cider Press
Monday, 16 April 2007
Sunday, 15 April 2007
One little piece of news I came across in the local paper is that the Brixham Park and Ride will be running again this year from the end of May. Isn't that nice.
Saturday, 14 April 2007
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
Now under the Around Torbay scheme the time is 9:30. Yesterday I took over a bus on the Strand at 9:33 and the first 20 people who got on the bus were freebies. There was also a comment I heard over the radio from the driver of the 22 service that runs in Brixham that he had a full standing load and was leaving people behind. If I leave behind it isn't much of a problem, there will be an other bus in 7 or 8 minutes. If the 22 leaves behind it is 30 mins before the next bus. It would appear we have two morning rush hours. God knows, but doesn't care, what's going to happen next April when this free bus scheme become Nation Wide.
For the full story click here or for the full story and other stories from our local paper click on the side bar where it says Local Paper.
Monday, 9 April 2007
When I got upstairs to the Exit I could see it was firmly closed, oops, not that. Sorry lads, I hope, after all, you don't all choke on your beer. Must be the one down stairs. Now we have one bus which has had a problem with the downstairs emergency exit alarm for months. It goes off on it's own. A quick glance at the Defect Card. There it was, the last driver had writen that the alarm kept going off. I was driving this bus. The usual way to stop the alarm going off is to open the door and pull the handle firmly to shut the door. On this bus that didn't work. You also had to pull the bar that locks the door in place as well. Now each emergency exit has to be opened every day as part of the early morning inspection (see video). This constant opening and closing has taken it's toll on this door and it now is so battered that the alarm can go off several times a day, usually when the bus is full so you have to struggle passed hundreds of passengers, all who are worried that something serious is wrong in order to slam the door shut. One day the bar will fall of, as it is not designed for closing the door. Hopefully this will happen when I am driving the bus and am in Brixham and the fitters will have top struggle for an hour to get to the bus to fix the problem once and for all. Or maybe spray some WD40 on it as a quick fix.
This is from Perth in Australia.A place I have visited a few times but have never been on this guy's bus, nor in the car in front thank god.
NONE of our bus drivers would dream of driving like this; at least I hope not.
Please don't tell me if you know better.
Sunday, 8 April 2007
Friday I had a day of and went to Brixham for the afternoon. On the way back I stopped of at Paignton Bus station for a little light entertainment. Queues every where, buses some where else stuck in lines of cars driven buy visitors admirring the beautiful scenery; or the back of the bus in front of them. I was going to put a photo of the bus station here but it would have been X Rated so here is a photo of Brixham Harbour instead, much nicer.
Saturday was mayhem. Those visitors who were here already either got in their cars for a drive round the Bay and those who hadn't yet arrived decided to arrive a day or two late and miss the rush. What a wonderful idea. Those visitors without cars ALL said, "I know, lets get on a bus and go to Brixham." Now that is a good idea, as you can see from the photo Brixham is a very picturesque place. Unfortunately someone decided that holding a car boot sale in a field at the side of the only road into Brixham would be a wonderful idea. Traffic was queuing twenty cars deep in both directions trying to get in to the car boot sale. The road there is only wide enough for one line of cars in each direction. Result? Road blocked. If they didn't want their car boot why did they buy a car that had a boot in the first place. I know we kept our heads above water, just. I didn't hear of any bus drivers being strapped into one of them stiff white jackets with the long arms and taken away screaming, "I'm only an hour late. I'll soon make that up."
Sunday I had put my name down to do over time and that nice Allocations Officer had given me this wonderful 9 hour 49 minute duty. Such a generous man. I got to work and we were all expecting more of the same. I started at 8:30 and never ran late all day. Everyone with a car decided that they were going to do their bit to Save the Planet and left it at home or outside their hotel. Traffic was so light I though the fuel tanker drivers must have been on strike and there was not a drop of petrol to be had anywhere in the Bay. What a let down. Still there is Easter Monday to look forward to. That is usually busy with lots of people heading home early to avoid the traffic. What an original idea, I wish I had thought of that. Problem is most people do think of it and worse still, they think they are the only ones to think of it. So, what do I care, I ain't working Monday. I shall go out for a bus ride some where. Get some photos of Paignton Bus Station.
Friday, 6 April 2007
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
This is Paignton Bus Station this afternoon and there are six number 12/12A s in a line. If all the buses were running to the time table there really should only be two max. But things have, as I have reported here several times recently, not been running well. Not our fault, honest. Road works that should have been finished 4 weeks ago are still holding buses up and as you can see in the picture below people parking their cars where they shouldn't just isn't helping. Unfortunately the driver of the white car had a good reason to be parked there outside the doctor's surgery. What reason? Oh yeah, "I'm just nipping in to see the doctor, I wont be a minute." The driver of the car believes that is a good reason even if No One Else does. Unfortunately No One Else wasn't there to object as the dirty deed was done and the bus came along later and got stuck. For several minutes at least, I was on the Bus Station when I heard about the problem and Midvale Road is 3 or 4 minutes fast walk away. Not that I walk fast these days. Not even to get a scoop like this one.
The guy in the Hi Vis jacket is the station controller trying to sort the mess out.
An other practice that occurs from time to time, which does help the service run better is turning a bus short of it's destination. This happens when a bus is running seriously late, there aren't too many people on the bus, there is an other bus handy that is going to the same place and control say it is OK. There are two groups of drivers who request turning a) most of us who do so as a last resort and b) a few who make a lifelong habit of it. This seems to be what happened to other day. Driver A was running late, but then most of us were, what with the road works in Long Road and Newton Abbot, 2 lots, and some thickhead car driver parking his car in a box junction in Brixham. Anyway Driver A requested the He/She be turned, he/she only had a few passengers and there was a bus not far in front of him/her. Control said OK. Driver A then spoke on the radio to the driver of the bus in front of her (lets call him Driver B) asking him to wait so she could transfer her passengers. Driver B, knowing which of the above group driver A belonged to, replied that he was 15 minutes late himself and wasn't waiting around for no one. I happened to be going the other way at the time and noticed Driver B heading for Newton at about 100 mph with Driver A hard on his heels at about 95 mph.
Twenty minutes later Driver A came back on the radio to tell control that she would be late back as she had been unable to catch the bus in front and had to go all the way into Newton. (Did she know the way I heard a colleague ask).
PS I should point out, before there are letters to the Editor that our buses will NOT do 100 mph; I exaggerated that bit for dramatic purposes.
Monday, 2 April 2007
Then I got to Newton, regular readers will know there are road works in Newton. Anyone who has approached the temporary traffic lights at road works will be familiar with the red notice just before the lights which instructs them to, "Wait here when Red Light Shows." One set of lights has a 30 foot gap between the notice and the lights. Here is a question. If you go past the notice and the lights are on green but they change to red before you reach the lights, do you stop at the lights?" That question should be asked in the Highway Code part of the Driving Test. There would only be half the cars, and two buses less, on the road today if it were. The answer by the way is NO!
I will repeat that in case you missed it the first time NO! NO! NO! Especially if the lights in question are on a bend and the road works are taking up so much of the road that the X64, the 30 foot long, X64 bound for Exeter, that you are driving now blocks the road to everything but a motor bike and possibly a mini, a small mini at that. I ended up having to reverse 35 feet in a very crowded street so the driver of the X64 could get out. The lights had changed twice by the time the road was clear. Then what happened. The 30 foot long, 85A heading for Exeter went past the red notice on green, the lights changed and what did the driver do. Guessed it in one; He stopped. Maybe Exeter is too posh for roadworks.
On my way out of Newton a warning buzzer went of. Low water. Stop. Phone control. They told me they would get someone out to me as soon as possible. "Tell them not to hurry." I joked. I didn't know there had been other break downs else where. An hour later a fitter turned up and got me going again.
Then there was a serious accident in the centre of Torquay which slowed every one down almost to the point of stop. But I was running so late I was back on time and heading for Paignton and Brixham and crowds of people at every bus stop who had given up caring about the fare increase and wanted to know where all the buses were. An other eventful day. I got home 25 minutes late, plenty of empathy with all the passengers.
Sunday, 1 April 2007
Sunday, day off and it is raining. It was also the start of the Around Torbay Free bus pass and new fares and several tickets changes so even though it is raining I am rather glad I am not working. Still, got tomorrow to look forward to when I will be working. Should be fun. Don't worry I will let you know how things go.
You can see how the changes have effected the bus service; these two buses you can see should be 12 minutes apart. I am only guessing but I believe the front bus is the one running late.