Thursday, 31 January 2008

A Result for the bbc (

After the photo of the manhole cover sinking into the road appeared here a few days ago the council sent someone down to fill the hole with asphalt so it doesn't bang every time a car, or bus, goes over it. Full rebuilt will take place next week. Should take two hours and will cause delays.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Rock Walk; Day 03

The man in the photo is at the top of a 200 foot high cliff and 30 feet up a tree trunk held on only by a couple of leather straps and some sharp things in his boots. The crane is lowering a big, heavy hook on the end of a long even heavier chain and it is swinging around the top of the tree trunk very near our hero's head. Our brave, very brave, tree man just reached out and grabbed the hook which he them used to attach to the top of the tree. Then he slid down 15 feet and used his chain saw, which you can see hanging below, to cut through the trunk. The crane then lowered the cut section of tree to the ground where it was fed into a large shredder. The man up the tree meanwhile had a bit of a rest until the hook returned. All in a day's work. Glad I'm a bus driver.
I have lots of photos of the action at Rock Walk and over the weekend I am going to start a new blog called Rock Walk, Torquay and will display many of them there.
Meanwhile out on the road, when I started at 12:44 I was called on the witness a drugs test. All employees of the company are subject to random drink and drugs tests as part of a continued drive to ensure the highest safety standards. Tests for two types of drugs were carried out and as you would expect the driver concerned tested negative for both types.
Then I took over a bus at 13:02 and the driver I relieved reported that there had been an RTC in New Road, Brixham. A car was on it's roof but the road was open on one side of the road while recovery of the vehicle was taking place. No one was reported hurt and delays were only slight. The car was still there when I got to Brixham and police were direction traffic past the scene of the incident.
A couple of hours later yet an other RTC was reported on the 111 route between Berry Pomeroy and Marldon. The road was closed for about two hours. I have no other details concerning the vehicles concerned nor if there were any casualties. They say things happen in threes.
The problem of running the diversion route on the 12/12A service remain but it is getting easier as we, the drivers and the passengers, are get used to it. We are still getting passengers on the wrong bus and they get a little confused when you tell them the bus isn't going where they expect it to be. Abbey Road, which was gridlocked on Monday is usually clear but now and then it clogs up for a few minutes. Cars are still managing to drive through Fleet Street and one confused driver did a 3 point turn on the Strand (which is a dual carriageway) and ended going the wrong way. Most of the vehicle down there are buses and no harm was done.

Rock Walk Day 02

The crane in action; the first tree down.
After a delay of a couple of hours while a missing piece of equipment was found the crane started work lifting trees down from the top of the cliff at the Pavilion end of Rock Walk. Only 5 more weeks to go.

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.

Third serious RTC on the 12 route this month.

I noted on a recent post that a serious RTC between Windy Corner and Brixham or between Penn Inn and Scott's Bridge would have a widespread impact on the running of the 12/12A service. On Jan 7 and on Jan 24 there were RTCs between Penn Inn and Scott's Bridge at the Northern end of the 12 route. This evening at 17:25 a collision occurred on Strawberry Bends at Churston which is about a mile out of Brixham on the Southern end. When the driver of a 12 that had left Brixham at 17:15 reported the RTC I was at Penn Inn, about an hours drive away. Shortly after the initial report came the information that the road would be closed for 3 to 4 hours. This was soon updated to 6 hours.

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

Rock Walk; Day 01

Day one of the diversion, this is Union Street at mid afternoon. Full to the brim. Once you drive down Union Street there are a couple of turn offs but you still end up going up Abbey Rd. Abbey Road looked just like this. Part of the problem is there are no signs at the top of Union Street outside the Town Hall pointing to the diversion route over Torre Church Road, Lucius Street and Belgrave Road so motorists a little confused head for somewhere they know, Union Street. We all expected the problem to be Fleet Street, which it was up till 10 am with all the goods vehicles making deliveries. After that, apart from the old car that drove up and down (illegally) it wasn't the bottleneck we feared. The posts at the bus stops going down and the bench and posts just before the stop going up are still there and it would help if they went, as would someone with a baseball bat standing at the bottom of Fleet Street to dissuade car drivers from breaking the law by driving in Fleet Street.

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

Torquay Harbour

A Day off yesterday and I took this photo of Torquay Harbour which shows how sunny and still it was after all the rain and wind we have had so far this year.
Come to beautiful Torquay for your holidays.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Under Tens V Davenport

A bright sunny day so down to watch the under tens rugby, Sponsored by Stagecoach Devon and the Belgrave Hotel.
Better game than the last one I attended, the forwards got stuck in and managed to break through a determined Davenport defence. Plenty of rucks in the game but I would like to see more passing, poor wingers stood out on the touch line doing not a great deal all game. Davenport managed to come back into the game late on and almost snatch a winner in the last minute.

Trees Come Down

Last May I had a picture published in the Herald Express which showed a branch of a tree on top of a taxi. The tree was one of 5 or 6 that used to stand next to the taxi rank on Cary Parade in the Harbour area. Council workers cut down all these trees a couple of days ago due to problems with similar trees dropping branches. They will be replaced as soon as Rock Walk is finished. Similar trees on the Strand overlooking the Harbour will be trimmed as they also have the same genetic problem and are liable to drop Branches on our precious tourist who sit under them looking at our beautiful Harbour. Full story Below.

For a map of the Rock Walk diversions for cars and HGVs click here.

From the Herald Express 26 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.

"Following the investigation it was decided to fell the trees in Cary Parade and pollard the trees on the harbourside - due to their importance to the street scene."The trees in Cary Parade will be replaced within this season's planting schedule. The work to the trees on the harbourside is slightly more complex as the lights within them have to be removed and the work must be carried out in the early hours of the morning to keep disruption to traffic at a minimum."We expect to carry out the work following completion of Rock Walk, however, this may be brought forward depending on the traffic situation during the works."

A KEY section of Torquay's seafront is closed for up to six weeks from Monday while Torbay Council take out some trees from Rock Walk.Traffic is being diverted from between the Belgrave Road and Torbay Road junction to Cary Parade while a giant crane is brought in to take the trees out of Rock Walk.A map of the diversions is available on our website parking is being introduced at Torquay's Shedden Hill car park while the road is closed.Thirty-five unstable trees are being taken out as part of £100,000 safety work at the prominent site.

The work depends on the weather and could take up to six weeks.Once finished, a geological survey will be carried out on the cliff face.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

A Bit of Fun in Brixham

Today (Saturday) and tomorrow Bolton Cross in Brixham is being dug up and resurfaced so no double deckers can get to the stop on Bank Lane. A small 38 seater is being used to shuttle passengers round the back streets from there to half way up New Road where the number 12 is dropping it's passengers and turning round, picking up a new set of passengers and heading for Paignton, Torquay and Newton. Problem is New Road isn't that wide so we are having to do a right hand reverse into Cudhill Road. I have done this trick once before several years ago when a car coming out of the petrol station hit a car going down New Road. But that was early on a Sunday morning, not on a busy Saturday afternoon made worse by the fact that cars were going down New Road, the drivers then discovering exactly what was written on that small yellow notice at the top of the road they had gone past going too fast to read, doing a turn in the road and coming back up. Also when my 50 passengers got off my bus they had to be sheparded across the road by two controllers down there to oversee the exercise before I could pull over to the right hand side of the road and then reverse in to Cudhill. Then I had to pick up an other 50 passengers waiting for me. What made it slightly worse is there isn't much room in New Road and the bus in front of me was running late for some reason so I had to wait out of the way in a lay by half a mile up the road while that bus did all the things I have just described. For 14 minutes. A fun day in Brixham.

The road works are still on tomorrow but I wont be going anywhere near them as I have a day off and the sun is going to shine (according to the BBC) so I am going to watch Torquay Rugby under tens in the morning and an afternoon taking photos followed by a pint or two, possibly 3.

Rock Walk starts on Monday. More good fun.

Manhole Cover

This manhole cover is situated on the Newton Road close to Regent Close, which is where our depot is. It is also close to the two bus stops we change drivers at. So you get down there 5 minutes before your bus is due and wait. Every car that drives past in the direction of Torquay drives over this manhole cover. If you look closely you can see that the cover is about two inches below the level of the road and each car produces two loud clanging sounds and this is a very busy road. It is getting to be an audio variation of the Chinese Water Torture, especially if, which happens rarely, your bus is running a little late.

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

On a lighter note

This article from the Daily Mail was pined up in the Pay in room at work.
All you need to know about how to get on a bus but were afraid to ask.
The item also appears on the Stagecoachbus site.
Shame the Mail used a picture of a bus that is no longer on the road.
Please feel free to add any instruction you think have been left out.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

An Other RTC

There are two places on our route where an RTC is bound to cause Chaos. One is between Brixham and Windy Corner and the other is between Scott's Bridge and Penn Inn, Kingskerswell. There is no other way round these two stretches of road. So you don't want to hear the words RTC and Kingskerswell mentioned in the same breath.

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.

09:00 Friday.
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

Quiet Day and Upsetting Someone

This is the lull before the storm, actually we really don't know if there will be a storm. Maybe the Rock Walk problem will pass unnoticed. We do have an extra 15 minutes on each trip just in case there are serious delays on the diversion but we will have to wait until the brown gue hits the fan on Monday to find out. Fleet Walk will of course hold the key.

Anyway most buses ran on time to day except for a brief while around 8 am when a pickup truck broke down on the Penn Inn roundabout. Listeners to traffic news on Radio Devon will be familiar with the Penn Inn just as listeners to radio in London will have heard of the Hammersmith Flyover even if they have never been there. The truck broke down right in front of me so I was lucky and got past without any delay but a couple or 3 buses behind me got caught up in the problem.

Later in the morning I managed to upset an elderly lady. Not my fault, honest. She got on, I think in Torquay and asked, she said, for Christchurch which is half a mile before Paignton. As I headed for Paignton no one rang the bell for Christchurch and I carried on past the stop. The bell rang for the next stop, Victoria Park and several people got off, including elderly lady who spoke rather reproachfully to me, "When I got on I asked for a ticket to Christchuch." and gave me a very disapproving look. Now if you get in a taxi and tell the driver where you want to go it would be understandable if the driver went straight past your destination. But a bus is different, for one thing buses are, and have always been equipped with a bell which passengers can and should ring to let the driver know they wish to get off. And an other thing, Taxis usually only carry a few passengers all of whom are going to the same place. Buses can carry up to 90 people going to lots of different places. If you get on a bus you are expected to know where you are getting of and ring the bell. If you are unsure of where to get of then explain that to the driver and he/she will endeavour to remember and stop at your stop for you. But if you say nothing then the non-mind reading bus driver is going to take you past your stop.

This weekend there are road works in Brixham and we aren't going into the town square. Instead we will drive half way down New Road and drop the passengers near Cudhill Rd. They will then be picked up but a shuttle bus and taken into the town square along the back roads. The bus will then, with the aid of a banks person reverse into Cudhill Rd and pick up passengers who have been brought from the Town Square by the shuttle bus and then head for Newton. Just for two days, should be interesting.

Nice new bus stops going up all over Torbay.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Plan A after all.

Well here it is, the official diversion while the road between The Pavilion and Belgrave Road is closed. There had been some thought given to the idea of splitting the service so buses ran from Newton to the Harbour and back to Newton and from Brixham to the Harbour and back to Brixham. How ever this little problem is dealt with there will be difficulties. At least the work is being done in the quietest month of the year. I am looking forward to the experience. There should be some interesting moments in the next three weeks, probably mostly in Fleet Street. The picture below shows what Fleet Street can be like on the average day.

Stay tuned for some I will take over the next three (hopefully) weeks.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Why Didn't I Stop and Pick You Up.

If you were one of the gentlemen in Brixham this evening at 17:56 I am sorry I could not pick you up at the lights as I was heading for Paignton. Company rules you know.

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.


Yesterday (Saturday) usual sort of lunch time, all the children come out for an afternoon in Torquay. All with a ten pound note clutched in their hand, standing in a queue 4 or 5 long. Not a problem if you have been working for a few hours and have plenty of change, but if like me you have just started it can rapidly drain away all the float. And there is always one who gets a single ticket. Not planning on going home?, I used to ask but I have long since given up on that. I just wait for them on the way back trying to use the single ticket.

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

Two Weeks Rain in Two Days.

That's what the forecast promised. That's a lot of rain, the gutters full to over flowing, manhole covers forced up by the volume of water, debris all over the place, fields flooded, that sort of thing. What did we get? Drizzle. All day long. Grey, damp day.

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

Road Closed (Rock walk)

Between Pavilion Roundabout and Belgrave Road while Rock Walk is being made safe.

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.

Problems on the Road

Yesterday we had a few minor difficulties. First of all Torbay Council Highways Dept decided to dig a deep hole in Fleet Street. Not somewhere out of the way and hidden, no this hole was right on the bus stop where the road narrows and goes round a slight bend. The only way to move away from the bus stop was to set off and hope half a dozen buses weren't coming down towards you. Then in the middle of the day they brought up the heavy gang, one of those big yellow trucks that featured on a post a few days ago. Water needed to be removed from the drains. Meanwhile Devon Council were up at Aller repairing lots of small pot holes that had mysteriously appeared in the roadway. I say mysteriously because Devon Council repaired all these pot holes last year at great expense; and lots of traffic jams. Continuing while all this was going on was the Great Gas Works Temporary Traffic Lights Saga. On one side a queue 9 tenths of a mile long, on the other, 20 yards. And no one seems able to get the traffic light people to do anything about it.

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.

Against all this heavy weight disruptive behaviour the piece of paper with TIMETABLE printed neatly on it didn't stand a chance.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Two Things, One Good the Other a Pain In the Butt.

First, our radio system has been playing up for a week or so. Breaking up, crackling and cutting out. The problem was a spare part was needed but couldn't be found. One finally turned up but the museum it was in was reluctant to let us have it and only finally released it when we promised to give it back when we had finished with it. So during the afternoon the sound of an engineer's voice came over the radio several times, each time getting louder until finally we had perfect reception. Nice to have a reliable radio again.

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

Stop Press

Ice Prince sinks of Portland.

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

Napoli all over again?

A year ago only a few people will have heard of the Napoli. Then it began to sink in the English Channel of the south coast of Devon. It was taken in tow but was in danger of sinking and it was run aground on to a beach a few miles from here. For a few days it was the most famous ship in the world as looters turned up to see what they could steal.Yesterday no one had heard of the Ice Prince but it too got into trouble in the Channel in bad weather. Yesterday evening the crew were rescued, some by helicopter and the rest by the Torbay Lifeboat, from the listing ship. The weather has shown no sign of improvement and there are serious concerns that the Ice Prince will sink. It has already lost over 5000 tons of deck cargo, mainly timber which is floating round out there in heavy seas and is just waiting for some scavenger to turn up and collect it, go for it boys, just like the Napoli last year.

Picture from a French news paper. I like taking photos but I'm not that mad.

Day Off

As you can see it's blowing a gale and raining on my day off so it's down to The Cider Press for a nice warm fire and a cold beer. I've got an other day off today and it looks a bit brighter and the wind has gone so I might go for a ride on a bus somewhere.
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 ń†wann) 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

Fleet Walk

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

Two similar incidents

Two similar incidents with slightly different results. In both cases a vehicle towing a trailer went past the front of the bus and then the trailer moved in, or the bus moved out, and the front end of the trailer caught the front end of the bus. In the above photo, the bus, which I was driving got away with a few scratches. This was last July and happened where the road norrows down from two lanes to one at Keywest in Paignton. The photo of the bus below, which I wasn't driving, shows what can happen. Either the trailer was going faster or the angle between bus and trailer was greater and it dug deeper into the bus bodywork.
Drive safely.

Only Four More Grids To Clean

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Rock Walk Diversion

It would seem that during the forth coming road closure at Rock Walk the 12/12A service is to be split. Buses will run from Newton Abbot and terminate at the Harbour, dropping passengers on the Strand before going round to Cary Parade to pick Newton bound passengers up. The 12 and 12A Brixham bound buses will start from the Stand, go up Fleet Street, Abbey Rd, Lucius Street, Belgrave Road and turn right onto the Sea Front and on to normal line of route. Coming back from Brixham they will turn up Belgrave Road, right into Lucius Street, Torr Church Road and right into Union Street and down to the Harbour where they will pick up passengers for Paignton and Brixham. There is a possibility that to ease the flow of traffic in Belgrave Road the buses will come up Sheden Hill Road. This will involve through passengers changing buses on the Harbour.
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

Under Tens V Ivybridge

Day of so I went to watch Torquay RFC under tens, Sponsered by Stagecoach Devon and the Belgrave Hotel. The boys hadn't played for over a month and it showed. Ivybridge are a strong team and had had more match practice and won by six tries to two. Plenty of games coming up in the next few weeks to go and watch. Plenty of support at the game which is good to see.

Road Closed.

I signed on at 12:44 today for duty 3608. Actually I was about 10, 15 minutes early which I usually am so I stood around and annoyed the controllers, which I usually do. Then at 12:54 I walked down to the Newton Road to take over a bus heading to Newton Abbot. It was due at 13:02 and arrived at 13:00. After a brief chat with the driver coming off I checked the mirror and started my trip up to Newton. Less than a minute later another 12 driver came on the radio to announce that there had been a serious crash at the Moor Park Road junction with the Newton Road. Ten minutes later I was in stationary traffic and news was filtering through that the accident was in deed serious and some one had been killed. Once there is a serious accident the police treat the roadway as a 'Scene of crime.' and forensic experts are sent to gather evidence so the cause of and possible blame for the collision can be determined. I had originally come to rest about 300 yards from the scene but as the minutes ticked by we gradually moved forward.
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


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

Things like this

Emails like this turn up from time to time.

Before you bother read it I should point out I don't have a PayPal account and if I did they would not email me like this. Just delete this crap:-

Dear valued PayPal member:

Identity protection matters. And PayPal works day and night to help keep your identity safe. That's why it has come to our attention that your PayPal account information needs to be updated as part of our continuing commitment to protect your account and to reduce the instance of fraud on our website. If you could take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and update your personal records you will not run into any future problems with the online service.

However, failure to update your records will result in account suspension.

Once you have updated your account records, your PayPal session will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.

To login to your PayPal account and update your records click on the following link:

Thank You for using PayPal!

The PayPal Team

Talking of teams I went to watch the Torquay Athletic Under 10s to day for the first time in a couple of months.

They were stuffed 6 tries to nil by a well prepared, well drilled Ivybridge team this morning. Ivybridge played better and had more of the play than a fairly weak Torquay team. As we say in the bus trade, "Things can only get better." Thought I am sorry to say, they usually don't. I mean look how much room the Ivybridge winger, in green, has here. Oh yes, he did go on to score

Saturday, 5 January 2008

What is the difference between a coach and a bus?

Well I was going to say that buses can stop at bus stops but coaches can't. But if the coach gets there first then I guess it's coaches can stop on bus stops but then the bus has to stop 20 yards up the road and the poor passengers have to take a walk. What made this little exercise not only a nuisance but frustrating was the fact that behind the coach is 200 yards of free, on the road parking, completely empty.

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.

This looks edible.

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

Rain and Reversing

Mostly what it did today was rain. Steady, wet, dreary rain. Aren't you glad you didn't decide to have a few days by the seaside here in Glorious Devon? To make it worse you could have decided to have those few days in Kingswear a few miles down the road towards Brixham. Kingswear is a pretty village on the side of the River Dart. On the other side is Dartmouth which has claims to fame through a brief association with the Pilgrim Fathers, The Royal Naval College and by it's position on The Oneiden Line. (A TV Show). Dartmouth is the larger and has better road links with the outside world. We run bus services, the 22 and the 120 to Kingswear but not for the last few days. No, no; we haven't fallen out with the good people of that village, just part of a wall that was holding up some one's garden. It's now fallen down and is blocking the road. That happened on New Year's Eve and a coupe of strong men with shovels could have opened the road except for the fact that a structural engineer has to earn his money by turning up, having a look then looking thoughtful, worried and concerned, scratch some part of his body we don't mention here before giving the go ahead for work to be done. Or maybe saying the whole village will have to come down. The Council say they can not touch anything as it was a private wall and garden that fell down. I wonder what they would say if Rock Walk fell down. (You heard it first here folks.) So the road is blocked and our buses are having to do a turn in the road 3/4 mile before the village and to do this need some behind to make sure they don't run of the road. At night it is pretty damn dark up on the road where they turn. So some poor sod has to sit there all evening waiting for a bus to arrive so he can assist in the turning round of said bus. Sooner him than me. Road might be open in time for Easter. If we are lucky!

No Killer 50 Foot Waves

Bit of a disappointment, the wind mostly blew itself out during the night and changed course a little to the south which meant Berry Head protected the Bay, which is it's job with all those Napoleonic Forts up there. Anyway it seems to be a good job we didn't end up on the diversion. Some from the depot apparently took a bus round the diversion just to make sure the trees hadn't got too big since we last used the route, which was almost a year ago. It wasn't trees that were the problem though but parked cars along the way which made it almost imposable to get the bus through. And that was without all the other traffic that has to use this road when then sea front is closed. A couple of years ago it was so bad the 20 min trip from Torquay to Paignton took an hour. In the past we have used the ring road which though longer does tend to take less time, the problem is it misses 7 bus stops out. The complicated route past all the tree branches and between all the parked cars only misses out 5 stops. We will have to wait for the next storm to see what happens. Another problem was that some newer drivers on the 12/12A route haven't been route learned on the diversion, a bit like me the first time I used it and ended up in a 9 foot wide road with a hill in the middle and a nasty bend just over the hill. The tricky part was when 3 cars suddenly came the other way and had to reverse 50 yards.

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

Something You Don't See Every Day

Sun Rise.
A couple of hours later the waves were much bigger and driven by a strong Easterly wind. High tide was at midday and for a while the road between Corbyn Head and Livermead got pretty wet even though it wasn't raining. Most of the time Torbay is sheltered but a wind from the East and a high tide can end up with the road being closed and us going on a bit of a diversion. If it was just the buses it wouldn't be to bad but the roads we divert around are narrow twisting and tree lined and full of all the other vehicles that normally use the sea front. In the past buses have lost windows on the diversion.
Tomorrow (Thursday) we have high tide at 13:58 with the wind predicted at 25 mph and from the East. One good point is we are more or less at Neap tide and the rise will only be 3.9 metres above Chart Datum, the lowest point, unlike the 5.5 metre rise we get at Spring tides. So we might be lucky and the road may stay open. Mind you, with the Bay usually a calm tranquil place it is nice to see the sea a bit stirred up from time to time.
It was a quiet day today after the rush of Christmas and New Year. Getting us ready for the next few months between now and Easter.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Please Read The Small Print

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.