Thursday, 31 January 2008
Wednesday, 30 January 2008
The traffic round town was much lighter today, car drivers stayed out of Union Street and Abbey Road so we were able to get round faster. But, several cars were seen driving in Fleet Street and the posts by the bus stop going down and the bench by the bus stop going up are still there. The 2nd and 3rd lane at Belgrave Road are still not coned off and there is some confusion amongst bus drivers about which bus stops they should stop at to pick up and drop off passengers in Union Street, Fleet Street and Abbey Road. It will all come out in the wash, or maybe it wont.
Not a job I would fancy, fixing the chain to a tree at the top of a 150 foot high cliff.
These days all serious RTCs are investigated very carefully to see who or what is to blame.
I continued to Windy Corner with about 10 passengers who wanted to go into Brixham. By this time Torquay control had arranged for a shuttle bus to pick up any passengers for Brixham and take them on by the back roads. Being a smaller bus meant it could get through where my double decker couldn’t. The Shuttle bus had to come from Torquay which took a little time so I waited at Windy Corner with them.
Several people meanwhile arrived wanting to get to Paignton. They had walked up from the top of New Road where the bus out of Brixham was stuck with the road being closed. Two cars had collided and the driver of one of them, a young man, was reported dead. The driver of the other car, a middle age lady had walked from her car to the ambulance when it arrived.
Later, when it was time for me to finish, I got to the depot and noted that there was no relief driver waiting for me. I reported this to Torquay Control. The controller asked me the duty number of the driver who should have been relieving me. As soon as he said that I guessed what had happened. I told the control it was duty 3612 and asked was he stuck in Brixham. The driver himself came on the radio and confirmed that he was indeed in Brixham. The spare driver was out shuttling passengers between Windy Corner and Brixham and I had about 15 passengers so I continued in service to Paignton. There all my passengers got off and there was no one waiting so I went back out of service to the depot finishing almost an hour late. A long day.
Wednesday morning; From BBC Devon:
Driver, 40, killed in collision
A man has been killed in a car crash in south Devon.
The 40-year-old was one of two drivers involved in a collision at Strawberry Bends on the Dartmouth Road in Churston Ferrers at about 1730 GMT on Tuesday.
Fire crews freed an elderly woman from the other car and she was taken to Torbay District Hospital.
The road was closed for a number of hours and diversions were put in place whilst police investigators carried out an examination.
Monday, 28 January 2008
The lack of a sign at the top of Union Street was one omission, an other I can not understand was the absence of cones on the Sea Front as the road approaches Belgrave Road. There are three lanes there, usually the left lane is for vehicles turning left into Belgrave Road or for going up Shedden Hill Road (which is what the buses from Paignton were doing). The centre and right hand lane were for continuing along the sea front past Rock Walk. This is now closed but traffic can drive up to the stop line at the lights in the centre and right lane. Then they notice the road is closed with barriers across and now have to get into the left lane. When I was there waiting for the lights to change a white van arrived in the right lane, noticed the barrier and when the lights went to green shot forward across in front of me and up Belgrave Road. A little gentle braking on my part avoided a RTC. A few cones courtesy of the Torbay Council would have prevented this incident. Maybe they will get round to getting some from somewhere, oh, and the sign at the top of Union Street.
The crane, the 2nd biggest in the known universe, that is hadn't arrived when I was there this morning, only workmen removing all the lamp post to give the grane room to work and erecting a fence to keep out spectators like me. Then at 17:15 while I was waiting on the Newton Road to take over a bus this BIG CRANE went by. Too dark to take a photo, Too fast as well. I get one tomorrow.
The other problem which we were expecting did happen. All down Union St and Fleet St and up Fleet St and Abbey Rd passengers were getting on any bus with 12 on the front and getting upset when we told them they were on the wrong bus. I expect they will get used to it in about 5 and a half weeks
Sunday, 27 January 2008
Landmark trees have had to be cut down in one of Torquay's parks after it was found they were suffering from a 'genetic' fault which caused them to drop branches.A taxi driver had a lucky escape after a branch from one of the plane trees in Cary Parade came crashing down on his car during the rough Bank Holiday weather last May.After some arboricultural detective work, it was discovered that trees in that section of Cary Parade, and those planted along the Strand, all originated from the same nursery in Holland.And there have been similar problems with other 'related' trees from the same nursery across the country, including those on Exeter Cathedral Green which have also had to be felled.
Saturday, 26 January 2008
This bus, a Firstbus running as an X8o was on the Strand yesterday. I haven't seen one done up like this before. They must be getting short of buses.
Friday, 25 January 2008
This article from the Daily Mail was pined up in the Pay in room at work.
Thursday, 24 January 2008
Anyway I left Brixham at 15:21 this afternoon (Thursday) as a 12A heading for the Depot for my lunch break. At 15:35 a driver reported over the radio that there had been an RTC at Jury's Corner which is on the Newton Road in Kingskerswell. That is about 3/4 mile down from the place where an other serious RTC occurred on Jan 7. Today a motorcyclist was involved, which is the 5th or 6th serious accident, sorry RTC, to happen in the 9 years I have been driving up and down this road. The initial reports suggested that it might be a fatal and the police cordoned of Torquay bound side of the road outside the Sloop public house. Tailbacks built up very quickly as the police allowed traffic to pass the scene. Then it was decided that the Air Ambulance was needed, which does suggest that the initial report of a fatal accident may have been incorrect. Traffic was halted while the helicopter landed and took off. After a while the the forensic team arrived and took photos and made measurements and checked out every detail in order to determine the cause of the collision.
I arrived at the depot on time at 16:32 and handed over to my relief driver who took the bus on to Newton. At 17:17 I was due back out on the road heading for Brixham. My bus finally arrived at 18:20, I had been due off Brixham at 18:15. Fortunately there was no one on the bus going any further than Torquay so the controller told me to turn round at Torquay and head for Newton putting me back on time. There was an other bus in Torquay at the same time as me going to Brixham so no one had to wait because I was turned. So off to Newton I went. The forensic team were still doing their work when I got to Jury's Corner and I ended up in Newton 25 minutes late. By the time I got back to Torquay I should have been in Brixham, only 40 minutes down. I ended up finishing 32 minutes down. a very chaotic afternoon. The road finally reopened completely about 21:50.
I have just heard on Radio Devon that an 85 year old motorcyclist died at the scene and the forensic team are still there investigating.
Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Nice new bus stops going up all over Torbay.
Monday, 21 January 2008
Stay tuned for some I will take over the next three (hopefully) weeks.
Sunday, 20 January 2008
When I was a driver with less experience than now I did pick passengers up in this situation but I soon stopped. One time I was passenger on a bus, one of ours, when the driver opened the doors at the traffic lights for a lady. She, conscious of the fact that he should not be doing this tried to hurry, missed the step and bashed her shin on the platform. Blood everywhere. Lesson reinforced. It was learnt when I too open the doors at those very same traffic lights and two people got on. Did they have the right money ready, does the pope believe in free love for all? I don't think so. Not only that, they didn't even know where they were going. The conversation went something like this.
Person A to person B. "Where are we going?"
B, "I don't know."
A, "Well where do you want to go?
B, "Don't really care"
A, " Well hurry up and decide, the driver's waiting." I wasn't the only one waiting, about a third of Brixham was waiting, most in cars behind but also two or three had joined an impromptu queue for the bus.
B, "What about that place we went to last Friday?"
A, "After what you said to the barmaid. I ain't going within a mile of that place ever again. Have you seen her boyfriend."
B, "Don't remember that."
A "I'm not surprised the amount you drank."
B opened his mouth to deny being drunk but thought better of it.
A, "I know, we'll go to that new pub, just opened,what's it called."
B, "No idea."
A, "Yes you do. It's near that car dealer that got done for winding back the speedos in 1998. Closed down a few years ago."
B, "Yeah, my dad bought a car there, said it was crap. Kept breaking down." I also was about to break down because by now an ambulance, a police car, two fire engines and the dog wardens van had joined the queue of traffic trying to get out of Brixham and a thin green goo (aka the Will to Live) was trickling out of my ears. Oh, also there was the bus behind which they would have caught if I hadn't made the mistake of expecting them to get on the bus and say two returns to Torquay and bang the correct change down on the cash tray and let me be on my way.
When they did decide to go to Paignton they then asked what time the last bus was before deciding to get singles, probably because I told them the last bus from Paignton had already left.
Well you two gentlemen may well have had the correct money ready and known exactly where you were going as may all such hopeful would be passengers at the lights in the future but I don't ever intend to find out. Sorry.
Then a bit later I was driving through Roselands on the way to Brixham ( the first of 3 trips down there) when an other 12A went by me heading for Newton. Nothing unusual in that except that it was followed less than a minute later by an other 12A. They should be 15 minutes apart, it wasn't busy so why was a bus running late? An other minutes passed, like minutes do and the voice of the controller drifted out from the loudspeaker attached to the radio, yes,it's still working. He wanted to know if the temporary traffic lights at the road works on the way to Brixham were still playing up. Oh my god. not more temporary traffic lights playing up? Haven't we had enough of temporary traffic lights playing up to last at least until Easter? Apparently not. Going into Brixham 20 cars at a time, coming out; 8. I mean how difficult can it be to set up the lights. Twenty seconds on green, change to red. Now the other end gets twenty seconds on green before changing to red. Both sides get an even chance. The only difficulty is the length of time both sets are on red for. At ordinary traffic lights the time between one lot going to red and the next lot getting a green light is 4 seconds but if the roadworks are long then this might not be enough, twenty yards and no problem 50 yards and green would come on before the other traffic has cleared. But it can't be a big deal. It isn't as if temporary traffic lights haven't been around for years. We can dial a phone number on a mobile phone and speak to some one in Australia, we can watch Gorden Brown in China on TV, we can surf the net for the lesser known mating habits of the Rousettus aegyptiacus if we want to but can we get temporary traffic lights to function properly? To answer this question I have emailed the Department of Transport to ask who is ultimately responsible for making sure these bloody things work properly. I'll let you know what they say or you could work, and I do mean work your way through this little book.
from the Dept of Transport. Go on, it's fun; really.
And one last item, I have heard a story (rumour) going round re the Rock Walk diversion. The bus service isn't going to be split at the Harbour after all. We are going to run all the way from Newton to Brixham and get an extra 15 minutes running time. Still nothing official yet of course but it only starts next Sunday.
Friday, 18 January 2008
One little thing that happen was I ran out of 5 pence pieces this morning on a school run to Churston Grammar School. The children start getting on in Torquay and buy return tickets and for some reason no matter which fare stage they got on at the fare always ended in 5p. £2.65 then £2.35 a bit further down the road and down to £1.95 from Paignton Bus station. And when there are 80 children getting on the bus and few of them with the old 5p my store soon ran out. I will have to nip in the Post Office on the way to work tomorrow and get some more.
The other thing was setting of from Torquay towards Paignton and expecting the usual delay at the Gas Works. No delay; after 5 days of having long queues of traffic waiting to go through the temporary traffic light it was apparent that some one had been reading the blog and seen the photo of hundreds of cars waiting patiently between Livermead and Corbyn Head and had decided something had better be done about the problem.
More rain forecast tomorrow.
Still no details on the diversion round Rock Walk though a passenger mentioned that it looks like taxis will be allowed to use Fleet Street for the duration.
Thursday, 17 January 2008
Final details are still being worked out regarding the bus services ( 12, 12A, 12B, X46 and 111) which use this stretch of road. Nothing has gone up on the buses yet nor has any information concerning diversions in the centre of Topquay been published. Plenty of time for all that yet, after all, 28 Jan is still 10 days away and the road that is being closed isn't all that important (sic) and it is only being closed for 6 weeks.
The nine tenths of a mile side.
Usually I leave Torquay on time and get to Paignton 15 minutes late. Next little difficulty was the railway carriage heading from Churston to Windy Corner. Not on the track but on the road to Brixham. Trains might be able to do 200kph but not on the back of a lowloader. People must have driven from miles and miles to see this carriage, part of the South Devon Steam Train, because there was an almighty traffic jam in the area for an hour or so. Just as that big problem went a motorist in Paignton decide to remodel the crash barrier at the bottom of Hyde Road, which is a very busy section of road. He made a mess of the front of his car doing it which I don't really care about and caused buses to go on a long winded diversion which I do care about. While this lot were happening the lights at the exit to the bus station decided they wouldn't mind a short rest so for a few hours we had problems just getting out onto the road. When we got there we mostly wished we hadn't bothered. Oh yes; the lights at Torre Station also thought it was a rest day. Actually this switch down made it easier to get through the area as we drive down the road which has priority, the problem came after an engineer came down and gave the junction box a good kicking and the lights started working again.
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
The second problem, the pain in the butt one, was sitting in a queue of traffic heading for Paignton at the road works by Holacombe Gas Works. The gas works have gone years ago but we have long memories round here. As we inched forward I started counting how many vehicles were coming from Paignton; on average 22. But we seemed to be moving a lot less than that. The queue on our side of the road started at the Grand Hotel, three quarters of a mile from the temporary traffic lights set to by Amber On, a company that provide roadworkers with said lights. When I finally reached the lights (15 minutes later) I counted how many vehicles got through from our side. Eight. And I have to report that it was only eight because vehicles 7 and 8 only went through because they ignored the fact that the lights had changed to red. Neither of them buses by the way. When I got through I noticed the queue of traffic on the Paignton side consisted of two cars, a white van and a scooter. So if your bus was late sometime yesterday, and on Monday, and on Sunday, because that's how long the lights have been like this, it wasn't our fault. Blame Amber On or the council who are supposed to watch traffic management at road works.
Talking of road works, there are going to be lots of road works in the Bay over the next few weeks, the main on being the section of Torbay Road between the Harbour and Belgrave Road. Expect delays and diversions.
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
The Greek-registered Ice Prince went down about 26 miles (42km) off Portland Bill after shedding much of its load of nearly 5,260 tonnes of sawn timber.
A coastguard spokesman said the ship had sunk at about 0045 GMT on Tuesday after being monitored throughout the night by two tugs.
It isn't expected that any of the cargo or any pollution will reach the coast for a few days yet.
So no extra tourist attraction on our beaches this week.
Monday, 14 January 2008
Picture from a French news paper. I like taking photos but I'm not that mad.
The letter below isn't from the Herald Express but from the Times Of Malta and it shows that not all bus services are as good as our's.
(Sunday, January 13, 2008)Stranded passengers' saga
Last Friday week I was caught up in one of the most outrageous traffic accidents ever - that is how it felt as I sat in a bus waiting for someone to let it pass to get to its destination.
6.20 p.m. The No. 42 bus (Valletta-San Ġwann) stops at Rue d'Argens in Gzira, because of an accident which happened right in front of the traffic lights - one of many that happen there.It is ridiculous that in the narrowest of streets, at an intersection, traffic runs from four different directions. Our driver turns off the engine as passengers gullibly accept that he cannot pass.
6.40 p.m. We are still there and now in the dark, as the driver also switches off the lights in the bus. As we wait, not so patiently, we find out that no one has called a warden yet. We decide to tell the driver to take a detour so that we can bypass the scene of the accident.
First, he complains about missing one bus stop. We realise this is not true. He then tells us that his is a wide bus and cannot go through.And this is when it happens. A huge coach overtakes us. It seems that our bus is causing the problem. We later find out that this was his last trip and that he wanted to go home. He lies to us by saying that another bus is going to take a detour to take us on board, when lo and behold he passes through that gap in the road to go home.
It is now 7.20 p.m.Someone decides to call a warden but is told that they have too much to do and will not come. As someone else decides to call we realise they are not picking up the phone.At either end of Rue d'Argens there are two police stations, yet no police officer came out to see what happened or help ease the congested traffic. The bus we have been sent on switches off its engine and does not move either.
It is now 7.45 and we are told to catch another bus from a different bus stop. Since everyone complains, we stay put.The wardens arrive, ever so calmly. They spend a good 20 minutes taking photos as they relax and chat among themselves. On the other side, a group of bus drivers joke about how everyone got stuck. Only one dispatcher tries to help the passengers. We are then told to shift to another bus. The bus that we finally get onto also stalls for a good 10 minutes until it is finally allowed to pass.There was complete and utter lack of respect for passengers stranded in a bus trying to reach their destination. The bus drivers acted with complete disregard for the passengers, as did all those who did nothing for the first half hour. The wardens too failed miserably.Is this what we call public transport? Do those who intend to use public transport have to board the bus three hours earlier to get to their destination on time, just because of bus drivers' lack of discipline?Incidentally, I finally arrived at my destination an hour late after I had left home an hour early.
Sunday, 13 January 2008
This is a bus coming up Fleet Street here in Torquay. Fleet Street is a pedestrianised street but as there is no other practical way down to the Harbour from the top of town and back again we are allowed to drive along provided we keep to a speed limit of 10 mph. Now you can see the bus is in the centre of the roadway, well away from the pedestrians on the right of the photo. You should also be able to see on the left, highlighted in yellow some posts. These arrived about a month ago and at first I believed they were there to protect people walked past the bus stops over on the left by the phone boxes. We have never given anyone the idea that people walking here need protection from the buses. If we are moving into that area on the left it is to stop at a bus stop so we will be going even slower than the 10 mph limit anyway. I have since heard that the posts were put in to protect the drain covers which run along the side of the roadway there. Whatever reason the placing of these post here has not made the Street any safer because now when we stop at the bus stop we are 6 feet out into the centre of the road.
As you can see on the above photo the bus facing away from the camera is stopped at the bus stop and the two buses coming up Fleet Street have to move closer to the pedestrians on the right instead of driving along the centre of the road as we used to, and show in top photo. These posts also make it difficult for buses to get down the Street and are causing congestion especially before 10 am when we share the street with delivery trucks.
Please Torbay Council, remove these posts ASAP.
Just in case you think it might be dangerous having buses in a pedestrianised street look at the 3rd photo. The couple are walking along oblivious to the bus behind them but the bus driver isn't oblivious to them. What he is doing is following them, watching them and everyone else carefully. We don't blow the horn in this situation either despite what a local shopkeeper says. We just wait patiently till they move out of the way and then continue on our way.
Friday, 11 January 2008
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
Lots of publicity needed over the next few weeks.
As with any change like this it is the details that make or break the plan. Will the council impose parking restrictions in Belgrave Road and Lucius Street. Will some attempt be made to prevent motorists coming into the Harbour area from the Babbacombe Road. If they do the only place they can go is either into one of two car parks or back up the Babbacombe Road. Too many cars driving round the Harbour area looking for some way through will clog the place up faster than an irate passenger can say,"Why are you late?" If motorist do get to drive round the Harbour they may be tempted to drive up Fleet Street (which is for delivery trucks before 10 am and local buses only). Will some attempt be made to police the entrance to Fleet Street. There will be a few more buses per hour using it for the duration, put a few cars in there and traffic management schools from around the country will be sending their students down to Torquay to study grid lock and how to cause it. 12s and 12As will be going up Fleet Street and Abbey Road not only in the direction of Newton as now but also in the direction of Paignton and Brixham. So passengers waiting at those bus stops will need a clear indication that some of the buses are going to go sailing straight past. I have suggested in the past that "ON DIVERSION" be added to the list of destination blinds. This will remove the number 12 from the front of the bus and reduce the risk of people wondering why the bus didn't stop.
Like I say, it's all in the details and there are a lot more details than those mentioned here.
Back to today; not much happened, it's very quiet really.
Monday, 7 January 2008
I had explained to my passengers that the road would be closed for some time but this slow steady progress lead them to believe I was mistaken. What was happening was car and other small vehicle drivers, as they realised how long the wait would be were turning round and going back towards Torquay and we were just filling in their space. Eventually, about 2 hours after the collision occurred I got close enough to see the damaged car. By now the police had decided to turn the buses round and send them back to Torquay as well. Passengers were exchanged, those on the Newton bound buses walked up the road and were put on buses which had been turned back to Newton and those from the north boarded a bus now heading for Torquay. This got everyone to where they were going without too prolonged a delay. It also meant that there were buses in Newton Abbot when two secondary schools finished for the day. Last time the road was closed this didn't happen until an hour after the schools let out.
Eventually at 16:20 the police reopened the road and gradually traffic got back to normal.
The above photo is of one of our drivers. A special mention for him. He lives near the scene of the crash and was on his way to work. Usually he gets a bus the 3 miles down to the depot. When he found out there would be no buses running he at once set off walking. I've know some who would have gone home again and waited for the road to open, so well done that driver.
Item from Herald Express
MAN, 87, DIES IN LORRY SMASH
11:00 - 08 January 2008
A torquay man died and his elderly passenger was left with serious leg injuries after a horrific crash brought parts of South Devon to a standstill yesterday.Initial reports said the pair were trapped in their white Ford Fiesta after it was in collision with a truck on the main A380 Torquay to Newton Abbot Road, close to the Roman Jones' cafe.It is thought the 87-year-old man driving the car may have suffered a heart attack.The woman passenger, also in her 80s, was last night in Torbay Hospital with 'life-changing' injuries.The truck driver was shocked, but otherwise uninjured.Emergency services were quickly on the scene to help the casualties and start to find out what had happened.A thorough investigation by road traffic collision investigators meant the road was kept closed for over three hours.It spelt traffic misery for drivers in Torquay and Newton Abbot as long tailbacks built up. Bus passengers as far away as Paignton were also caught in the subsequent gridlock.Ambulance crews arrived just before 1pm and were assisted by two crews from Torquay fire station.A fire spokesman said: "The man had a suspected cardiac arrest and the woman had suffered leg injuries."We were called in by the ambulance service to help get the driver out."When we arrived the decision was taken to get him out as soon as possible on a spinal board. No cutting was needed though."Then we helped to get the woman from the car and into the ambulance."Police set up diversions to try to ease the traffic problems, but vehicles faced tailbacks in several areas.Both the St Marychurch Road from Torquay to Newton Abbot and the back road between Kingskerswell and the Barn Owl saw delays of several miles through the afternoon.As diversions were also set up at the Penn Inn roundabout, traffic built up on the approach from Exeter.Late yesterday police were in the process of breaking the news of the tragedy to the driver's family.The coroner has been informed and an inquest is due to take place in the next few days to take evidence and formally identify the man.
Sunday, 6 January 2008
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Talking of teams I went to watch the Torquay Athletic Under 10s to day for the first time in a couple of months.
Saturday, 5 January 2008
Day off tomorrow and if it doesn't rain too much I may go and watch the Torquay Athletic Rugby Under 10 s team, sponsored by Stagecoach in Devon. I haven't seen them play much this season and they aren't winning quite as many games as they did last year. They should be playing Ivybridge and the coach, one of our drivers, (the board have every confidence in him) say it is a game they can win.
After having a few pecks at the rubber seal round the door and deciding edible was not a word that sprang to mind, this disappointed seagull wandered of to try and find a tourist with a bag of chips. Not much chance of that on a cold day in hell, sorry Brixham. He's got alot to learn.
Friday, 4 January 2008
No East wind forcast for the next 5 days so no chance of the sea front being washed away just yet.
Maybe the council will build a bigger sea wall (but only if they win the lottery).
Wednesday, 2 January 2008
Tuesday, 1 January 2008
On Chritmas Day, Boxing Day and today, New Year's Day I have been down to the Harbour for a walk and on each day I have informed people standing at bus stops that Stagecoach do not run services on the above days. As you can see it is printed on the timetables that adorn every bus stop in the Bay. (Almost every bus stop.)
Back to work tomorrow.