Thursday, 28 February 2008

Quiet Day, Mostly

Traffic was quiet today which was nice. The morning started with a school run to Churston and ended with a school run from Newton Abbot but the bit in the middle was almost boring. Apart from lunch time when I walked down to the sea front looking to see if tonnes of rock were spread all over the roadway. No a pebble to be found. Bit of a disappointment really. What I did see was a couple of workmen removing part of the central reservation just in front of the Tor Bay Hotel. This gap will allow traffic heading for Torquay to move to the left carriageway to get round the roundabout onto Cary Parade. The seaward side carriageway will be opened for two way traffic from, hopefully some time soon. A couple of weeks maybe. It all depends on if the council can erect avalanche proof barriers along the landward side of the road fairly soon. This will involve putting up 350 metres of scaffolding to hold the barriers. However in the local paper there was an article which stated that such barriers were available with a delivery date of 8 weeks.

The white van shows how much room there is here but the big problem could be all the trees on the left. When this road was open we always moved out into the middle of the carriageway to get away from the trees, the camber of the road tended to make the bus lean slightly to the left, not something you bother about driving a car. It is expected that someone from the company will drive a bus along before traffic is allowed down there just to make sure we aren't going to be giving bus window manufacturers plenty of business.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Bad News (well not that bad really)

I went into work yesterday and there was a notice on the notice board, handy place to put a notice. We had been expecting this notice. It was about the new rosters to replace the emergancy duties we have been doing during the sea front road closure, I'm sure I have mentioned the sea front closure once or twice in the last 4 weeks. Anyway the road was supposed to open for buses and other big things on Friday March 7. Our week starts on a Monday so the new duties would start on March 10. But the notice was headed "New Rosters to start March 17" What a blow.

What's happened is the cliff face is too unstable and bits of rock, after sitting there not moving for millions of years have decided to go some where else, i.e. down onto the road. What a time to take a holiday. So and extra week of running round the diversion.

Mind you, you wouldn't want a slab of rock like this trying to get on the bus would you? No money to pay it's fare for one thing.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Fleet Street

Take a walk down Fleet Street any day of the week and things like this happen. It's 11 am so the van should not even be there. OK, so many places have restrictions on loading and unloading after 10 am that it might be difficult getting round to all your deliveries before 10 am. But why park your van in the one place guaranteed to block the road?

Then not two minutes later this ambulance arrived, no flashing blue lights, now noisy siren sharing it's music with everyone within a hundred metres, not even a patient being transported. No, all the driver did was park just here, on the bend. The bus driver can not now see if anything is coming the other way and has to take a chance. There is no danger in him taking a chance of a collision, just blocking the road. If there is something coming the other way there is now much less room for him to get out of the way. All the ambulance driver did was park there for 5 minutes, neither he, nor his partner got out of the ambulance and after 5 minutes he drove away again without blues and twos going so he didn't spend the 5 minutes checking with his control where exactly his emergency was.

So what was he doing in Fleet Street, apart from causing problems that is?

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Fleet Street

Fleet Street in Torquay is a pedestrianised Street but some vehicles are allowed in. There is a list somewhere but I will try and remember which vehicles are on that list. Delivery vehicles are allowed in before 10 am with the exception of the Tesco truck which is allowed in after 6 pm. Emergency vehicles, Police, Fire, Coast Guard, (we are on the coast after all) Ambulance, though I do think ambulances marked ‘Patient Transport’ are pushing their luck just a little. Taxis with access for wheelchair users, Post Office vans, Security vans collecting cash and Torbay Council vehicle also have full time access. I am sure there is an other class of vehicle that can drive through but I do know that cars can not.

In the 9 years I have driven up and down Fleet Street I have never seen any car stopped by the police nor heard of any car driver being prosecuted for driving along Fleet Street. Recently the number of cars using Fleet Street has gone up dramatically due to the sea front being closed. There are two problems I have with this increase in illegal use. One is the speed at which cars drive along here. As it is a public road the speed limit is 30 mph which is clearly an unsafe speed given the number of pedestrians wandering about. The second problem is all these extra car drivers who are now using Fleet street and getting away with it are going to continue using Fleet Street even when the sea front is open. I have heard people say “Why don’t the Parking Attendants do something about it?” They do put tickets on parked cars but have no power to do anything about moving cars, it is for the police to take action against motorists using this street illegally.

Does anyone know why they don't?

Oh yes, the other class of vehicles that can use Fleet Street, Buses.

Friday, 22 February 2008

The last few weeks I have been boring everyone with Rock Walk. Sorry but it has been the predominant event of the last few weeks. I had a walk around the site this morning and tried out crane driving just incase I get fed up, as if, with bus driving. The crane should be gone by Saturday evening and part of the road open some time next week but there is a big tidy up job still to be done and as I saw today some slabs of rock are unstable and all the face needs to be checked. We would not want a slab of rock falling down onto the road just a bus went by would we. Shame on all those who cried Yes.As usual today has been a struggle to keep on time, during the day not always successfully. One evening comes it gets easier. I was due off Brixham at18:45 and did indeed leave at 18:45. On time leaving Paignton at 19:03 and I arrived at Preston shelter on time. Two boys got off the bus and I closed the doors to go when one of the boys knocked on the door and pointed at an old dear who was running up to catch the bus so I opened the doors and waited. She wanted the Princess Theatre. Now there is a stop across the road from the theatre (see photo below) but we aren't stopping there at the moment.

So I explained this but added that the bus would stop at Cary Parade which is just round the corner. Big mistake, I should have sold her the ticket and dropped her on Cary Parade and then given her directions to the theatre. Explaining Albert Einstein's theory of relatives would have been easier, and more to the point, quicker. Then when she finally pretended she understood what I was saying she pulled out a purse. From this she extracted a five pound note to pay the £2.40 return fare. She then put the note back in her purse and uttered the words ALL bus drivers dread. "Hang on, I think I've got some change. I know you bus drivers like the right money." NO, not at 7 O’clock in the evening when we have more change than the Bank of England. We want you top give us the £5 note. We can give you change about ten to the power 27 times faster than you can find the right money. PLEASE, PLEASE give me the fiver. A search through a purse slightly smaller than a condom packet, a search that lasted almost as long as the search for extraterrestrial life revealed 26 pence, a polo mint and a safety pin. Grudgingly the £5 note was handed over. At Belgrave Road, where the diversion starts an other old dear came up to me. He had heard me trying to explain the concept of "diversion" to the little old lady at Preston Shelter and decided a little bit of knowledge was a good thing. "Where exactly did I go from here?" he wanted to know. So I explained where the bus went and where it stopped. (everywhere??????). "And which way does it normally go?" The sigh I let out could have been heard by humpback whales swimming in the Atlantic Ocean 200 km away though not by my guest on the bus. Never the less I explained. "Oh right." he said and got of the bus. "Doesn't effect me, I'm staying at the Belgrave Hotel (which is on Belgrave Rd, two minutes walk away) and I'm going home tomorrow. Have a good evening"

The other passengers that made me cry got on in the afternoon. A couple we a baby buggy that had about 15 plastic bags hanging from it. Now as soon as I saw them at the stop I knew I could have a problem as I already had two large buggys on the bus. Two unfolded buggies is the max. Any more and they have to be folded and stowed in the luggage rack. "Sorry," said I as I opened the doors. "I don't have room for your buggy, there will be an other bus along in 3 or 4 minutes."

"Oh," said she, "I fold it" By the time the bags and baby had been removed and buggy folded two buses had gone past and grass had started to grow under the bus.

I do love this job.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Easy Week, Relatively Speaking

We are into week four of the Rock Walk road closure. This week has been a little easier as it is half term for the local schools. No morning and afternoon school runs and less traffic on the roads as the four wheel drive individual school buses, known in London as Chelsea Tractors have stayed out of our way.

One really good piece of news I read in the local paper this evening is that St Marychurch Rd is to reopen on Monday. This road is a back road that runs parallel to the main road from Newton to Torquay. For the last 3 weeks it has been closed for resurfacing. A spokesperson said,” We were surprised at how many cars used this road and the impact closing it made on the main road through Kingskerswell." (20 minute journeys became 50 minute journeys). What do you mean? You're the Highways department and you didn't know how many people use the road. Why bloody not? And why close such an important road at the same time an other major road is closed a few miles away?

It is expected that some time next week the sea front will be open but only on one side of the duel carriageway. We will not be able to use it as it is only 20 feet wide, a bus is 8ft 6 ins wide and there are trees, that are nothing to do with Rock Walk that overhang the road by a foot or so. Also we could not make the left turn at the end onto Cary Parade. So when the road is half open things will get worse for us because the Strand, normally one of Torquay's busiest roads has been dead quiet for the last 3 weeks. Once the road is partly open cars will return but we will still have to make the through town diversion. No light at the end of the tunnel yet. At least people are getting used to the diversion, fewer now get on the wrong bus, though it does still happen. It will be interesting to see what happens when the diversion ends and passengers, and drivers will have to get used to the old ways once again.

Rock Walk with all the bushes stripped away. They were dark evergreens and lacked interest. And gave the drug users somewhere to hide.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Paul Sadler

Paul Sadler, making his last visit to Paignton Bus Station.

Paul was a regular visiter to Paignton Bus Station. He lived in nearby Hyde Road and often walked the short distance to spend time here. For most people that would have been an easy walk but Paul was severly disabled and found walking hard. But he was always cheerful and very independant and greeted the all drivers, most of whom he knew by name, with a smile.

Sadly he died ealier this month and he will be missed by all.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Under Tens V Paignton

An other Sunday off and it wasn't quiet raining so I made my way down to the rugby ground, The coach Chris Coverdale who also drives a bus promised me it would be a good hard game and he was right. It is nice to watch other people playing rugby and getting all the knocks I can remenber from my playing days, league not union but who cares these days. Torquay wom but it could have gone either way. The team are as always Sponsored by Stagecoach Devon and the Belgrave Hotel.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Three Killer Weeks.

The end is in sight but so is the sun and that is a long way away. No, seriously more than 1 week, less than two. Three long weeks, actually the first week wasn't too bad. We only had the sea front closed during that week. Then someone in Devon County Council decided to throw not only a very large spanner in the works but the whole tool box as well. St Marychurch Rd, which runs parallel to the main road closed for road works. That doubled running times between Torquay and Newton and when we had got through that gridlock we had to get round town, twice, to avoid Rock Walk. It's been hell. We also have had a few RTCs which closed roads for a few hours and a few minor road works here and there around town notably at Waterside and Churston. I know sometimes road works are of an emergency nature and cannot be put off but I would have thought that all main roads in the Bay area could have been kept clear of obstructions such as road works for the duration of Tree work.

Low ebb today was going down Fleet St heading for Newton. We don't normally go down Fleet St heading for Newton and this being Saturday town was full of people who only make it into Torquay at weekend and were unfamiliar with the situation. 15 people at the bus stop, first two got on, "Paignton". No, you want a bus with Brixham or White Rock on the front. I'm going to Newton. They force their way off the bus past the next two who also say,"Paignton."No, you want a bus with Brixham or White Rock on the front. I'm going to Newton. They force their way off the bus past the next two who also say,"Paignton."No, you want a bus with Brixham or White Rock on the front. I'm going to Newton. They force their way off the bus past the next two who also say,"Paignton."No, you want a bus with Brixham or White Rock on the front. I'm going to Newton. They force their way off the bus past the next two who also say,"Paignton."No, you want a bus with Brixham or White Rock on the front. I'm going to Newton. They force their way off the bus past the next two who also say,"Paignton."No, you want a bus with Brixham or White Rock on the front. I'm going to Newton. They force their way off the bus past the next two who also say,"Paignton."No, you want a bus with Brixham or White Rock on the front. I'm going to Newton. They force their way off the bus past the next two who also say,"Paignton."No, you want a bus with Brixham or White Rock on the front. I'm going to Newton. They force their way off the bus past the next two who also say,"Paignton."

OK. OK. It wasn't quiet like that, I just used copy and paste a few times to save me typing it all out several times. Some of them actually asked for Brixham. Then one got on and asked for Newton. I was so used to saying NO by now I said NO out of habit, then as the passenger turned to get off I realized and called her back.

Next Saturday I am going to bring a loud megaphone, turn it up full and as I stop the bus shout loudly, "I am not going anywhere near Preston, Paignton, The Leisure Centre, Waterside, Broadsands, Churston or Brixham. I am going to Newton" Might work.

The other problem is the part of the diversion that sends us up Sheddon Hill. This adds 5 to 10 minutes to the trip round town and what makes it worse is the knowledge that the X80 (run by FirstBus) that was following me from Paignton has gone up Belgrave Rd and while I wait in the traffic trying to get out of Sheddon Hill onto Abbey Rd is now down on the Harbour reading his newspaper and enjoying a cup of coffee.

Day off Sunday, might go and watch some rugby, take some photos, have a beer or two and spend the evening slumped in front of the telly and an early night. Roll on Summer and easy times.

Actually it wasn't all mad rush all day long. I took this photo while waiting time in Roselands this morning. At 8:56. It was still quiet then.

Friday, 15 February 2008

More reading from the Herald Express

This is from the Herald Express, just in case you think I am making all this up.

15 February 2008

South Devon road closures are causing chaos on the buses, with double deckers stuck in jams from Brixham through to Newton Abbot.Today Stagecoach bus boss Chris Hilditch said he was tearing his hair out, and added: "A nightmare doesn't cover it."

The closure of the St Marychurch Road - the back road from Penn Inn at Newton Abbot to Torquay - is causing all motorists to squeeze through the busy main route through Kingskerswell.

Stagecoach's 12 and 12A buses, which run the main spine route from Newton Abbot to Brixham via Torquay and Paignton, are caught in the standstill traffic delaying passengers at peak time by about 40 minutes.

Then the buses are forced through diversions because of the harbourside Rock Walk road closures, leaving the bus station in Paignton virtually empty on Wednesday while buses were stranded in a sea of traffic.

Mr Hilditch said he had never known anything like it. He said: "If it had been one without the other we would have coped but the two together has pushed us over the edge."

More road works at Three Beaches in Paignton and near Churston Golf Club - both on the main bus routes - added to the misery.

The problems started when the St Marychurch Road was closed on February 4 for complete resurfacing works that are expected to last for another week.

Mr Hilditch said that traffic has at times 'ground to a halt' on the Newton Road as drivers who normally use alternative routes had to use the main road instead.

"It is an absolute nightmare," he said.

Buses leave every seven minutes on the 12 and 12A routes but passengers were finding themselves waiting for half an hour before a number turned up at once.

Commuters complained that a usual 20-minute journey from Newton Abbot to Torquay town centre was taking more than an hour.

Mr Hilditch said: "All I can ask is for our customers to bear with us. If the traffic is moving then we can come up with ways around it but when the traffic is at a standstill there is nothing we can do.

He said that Torbay Council had worked with the company to find solutions around the problem, but said Mr Hilditch: "I do feel that there is a feeling within the council that it will just go away but this would be an ideal time for them to show themselves to have the ability to sort this out."

He called for more efforts to relieve pinch points at junctions at Castle Circus, Torwood Street and Abbey Road.

Torbay Council's member for transport, Cllr Chris Lewis, said that officers met Mr Hilditch before the work at Rock Walk started to identify potential problems.

He added: "As a result we worked closely with the contractors carrying out the gas works at Livermead to ensure that the scheme was completed as quickly as possible. We also arranged for the trees to be cut back on Shedden Hill so that the bus service could use the diversion route.

"We believe that the service has been running well over the last few weeks but it is unfortunate that resurfacing works have started on St Marychurch Road.

"We are always happy to meet with Stagecoach and discuss any issues that they may have."

A Press Release from the Town Hall

Below is a Press Release I received today from The Town Hall. The important bit is in Red. My comment is in red as well!

Rock Walk update

The improvement works to Rock Walk have now entered the last phase with more than three quarters of the rock face already cleared in the last three weeks.The team have removed a further two large trees today and will be moving the crane along the rock face again this afternoon.

Weather permitting the crane will be removed and access along the seafront will be restored during the week commencing 25 February.

Arrangements are being made to open up the seaward side of the road for two-way traffic as soon as the crane is removed. However, the land side of the road will remain closed whilst the last of the scrub is cleared and a rock stability study has been carried out.Cabinet Member Councillor Chris Lewis said: "We are now on the homeward stretch and I cannot praise the rock walk team enough for their hard work and commitment over the last few weeks."The tree climbers have been scaling dizzy heights above the harbour for many hours a day, six days a week and the ground team's methodical approach and hard work has pushed the project along at an incredible rate.

"We have pulled together the best tree climbers and ground work team in the South-west and they are all extremely tired. In order to keep up the momentum next week and ensure the safety of the workers, the team will be taking Saturday off to recharge the batteries but will be back bright and early on Monday morning. "I am delighted that we will be able to open up the seafront road during the week commencing 25 February. We are currently making arrangements to suspend parking on the seaward side to allow two-way traffic whilst the land side remains closed until the rest of the scrub has been cleared and a site survey has been completed. This is unavoidable as there is still a danger of rock falls whilst work is carried out.

"I would once again like to thank local businesses and residents for their patience during this work."

No bloody mention of how hard us bus drivers have been working for the last 3 weeks and will continue to work for the next two weeks.

Photo is of Abbey Road which has been the hardest part of the diversion.

Map of 12 Route Through Town

Coming from Paignton and Brixham we come up Sheddon Hill, turn left in to Abbey Road and stop at the bus stop. There may be passengers standing here who are going to Brixham or Newton. At this point we don't want either lot to get on, the Brixham lot because we are going to Newton, the Newton lot because we are going down to the Harbour, during the day this can take 20 minutes and there will be a bus coming up from the Harbour that will get then to Newton quicker. So we explain that. Then at the top of Abbey Rd we turn right then right into Union St along the bus lane marked in blue. We stop at the stop and there may also be passengers for Brixham and Newton and also the Harbour. We don't take the Brixham lot but all the others. Then down to Fleet St and stop again picking up the Newton lot but fending off the Brixham crew.

Then down to the Strand, driving past the stop there and round to Cary Parade to pick up passengers there for Newton. Up Abbey Rd stopping at both stops but ensuring we don't get anyone for Brixham. Then turn Right at the top and back on normal line of route.
Coming from Newton we come down Union St, stop pick up passengers for the Harbour, Paignton and Brixham. Same in Fleet St and then onto the Strand where we pick up for Brixham. Then round Cary Parade where we don't stop. Anyone there is going to Newton. Then up Fleet St where we stop making sure we don't get anyone for Newton. Up Abbey Rd again stopping at both stops bur still fending off the Newton lot. Then remembering to turn left at the top of Abbey Rd we start to head in the direction off Brixham but there is a stop in Lucius St and two stops in Belgrave Rd to watch out for. Then turn right at the bottom off Belgrave Rd (not on Map) and back on normal line of route.

Simple. Isn't it?

In case you are unsure of our normal route the two yellow lines at the bottom of the map depict the road past Rock Walk, a name infamous in the annals of bus driving here in Torquay. This is the road that is closed. Before it was closed, so far in the distant past that few can now remember, the bus going to Newton came into Torquay along this road and on to Cary Parade, up Fleet St, Abbey Rd and up to Castle Circus and out of town. The bus to Brixham came down Union St, Fleet Walk, the Strand and out of town past Rock Walk. Now that was simple.

Still, thanks to the hard work of the Devon Tree Services this road should, weather permitting be open in Two weeks. When that happens we are all going to have a big party, so big there wont be any buses running the next day. (Only kidding).

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Government Web Sites

I came across this web site, a UK Government site that provides a journey planner for the local bus routes. I put in Union Street Torquay to Brixham. Now there is a bus stop in Union Street but the journey planner instructed me to walk to Torre Abbey Sands (where's that?) to catch a bus. What is wrong with using the bus stop in Union Street. Then I tried Fleet Street to Brixham, this time I was told to walk down to the Harbour even thought there is a bus stop for Brixham in Fleet Street. At least the walk down to the Harbour will only take 2 minutes. Union Street to Torre Abbey Sands will take 20 minutes.

The moral of this story is don't believe anything the Government tell you.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Seen in a Bus Shelter

The country wide bus pass starts in April and this poster in a bus shelter is the first information I have seen anywhere about it. One thing I did notice is it is just country wide and that country is England. No mention of the other three countries that make up The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, more commonly known as the UK. Maybe some civil servant in Whithall knows more about devolution than is letting on.

I can see the odd row developing in the summer when we have to charge visitors from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland but let all the English get on for free. Could that not be considered discrimination?

Anyway, to find out more about the bus passes click here. It's a government site so good luck.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Not a killer day, just hard.

Well two weeks have gone by since the Sea Front closed. This morning was OK, early afternoon hectic, the evening, up to 8 pm quiet again. I can safely say the last two weeks have been the hardest two weeks of my bus driving career and there is still up to four weeks to go. I was talking to the Torbay Council official in overall charge of the Rock Walk project and he was confident the work was on track to finish on time. I did mention to him in passing how hard the road closure was making bus driving and he was full of sympathy. But it all depends on the weather, so pray for high pressure over Torquay for the next 4 weeks please.

One other problem to add to all the others is there is some work being done in the bus station in Newton for the next 5 Sundays and we are using Highweek Way instead. This Notice was pined up in the sign-on room and stapled to all out running boards. You can see why.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

And An Other Road Closed; Two Actually

This morning I decided to got straight to work instead of going down to Rock Walk and taking some photos on the way to work. I had a duty that had a 61 minute break on the Harbour. I could have my lunch and then get a few shots before starting the second half. What a mistake to make. The whole of the Bay was covered in mist, it swirled up the cliff face and would have produced some great shots instead of the shot I got later when most of the mist had gone.

The afternoon went as expected, loose time getting through Torquay, loose time going to and from Newton because of the extra traffic, get some of it back between Torquay and Brixham. Torquay was very busy to day lots of people about, if the traders who have been complaining the work on Rock Walk has been driving trade away didn't have a good day today then they must have been shut or selling crap goods no one wants.Anyway I ended up in Brixham at 17:52 for an 18:01 departure Half a dozen people got on and while I was waiting time I filled in a few squares in a Sudoku puzzle. Dead on 18:01 I pulled out of Brixham. All I had left to do was drive up to Newton, one hour 3 minutes, then back to the depot dead and home. Yer, right. Eleven minutes up the road I went past the Waterside pub, round a gentle bend heading for the Grand Canyon. There's not much grand about it and it isn't a canyon but the road does dip down just below sea level before climbing up to the Leisure Centre. As I was saying, round the gentle bend and stopped, gently. Why? Blue flashing lights. Lots of them. An other crash. I got on the radio and told control and warned all the 12 drivers that there had been a crash. A police officer walked up and told me the road would be closed for at lest an hour as there were people trapped and the Fire Brigade were on their way.I gave control this information and suggested a diversion round the problem, then turned the bus round by doing a left hand reverse into a side road, just like the one you do on your driving test only most people don't use a double decker bus on a driving test. Then round the diversion arriving in Paignton 20 minutes late. The Paignton spare driver had explained to the waiting passenger what was happening so they were understanding as were most passengers I picked up. Remember I was first at the accident and therefore would have a big, 35 minute gap between me and the bus in front. When I got back to the depot one of the other drivers told me there had been a crash on the 32 route that had closed the road for several hours the night before. I have lost count of such incidents so far this year but it must be into double figures by now. Change the slogan, "Come to sunny Devon", to "Come to Dangerous Devon".I finally arrived home 20 minutes late. Again.

Friday 8 Feb, An Other Killer Day.

Being Friday which is always a busy day and the continued closure of the back road from Penn Inn and Rock Walk we had buses on the 12/12A route running just a bit late. A bit, what am I saying, 40 minutes isn't a bit, it's late on a biblical scale. Anyway we all got back on time by 9 pm which isn't too bad.

One little incident during the day which cheered me up a little. I was going down Fleet Street heading to Newton as a 12. Now the 12 usually does not go down Fleet Street heading for Newton but we stop if anyone puts their hand out in the approved manor ( see previous post ) and 4 passengers got on and showed me dayriders. Now I had the new destination blind up, the old one used to say in BIG letters Newton Abbot and below in smaller letters Via Paignton and Torquay. This was causing a problem as people would ask if we were going to Paignton and we would say No. They would point out that it did say so on the front. So we changed it to the one in the photo.

When I got to the top of Abbey Road the bus turned right, if it turns right it is going to Newton, left and it is heading for Paignton and Brixham. Our 4 heroes came running down the stairs demanding to know if I was going to the college and if not why not as it said South Devon College on the front when they got on. I explained that the blind had always read Newton with no sign of the College. "You changed the blind." Said one. "Why would I do that?" asked I. "To annoy us." I looked the young lady straight in the eye and asked, "Why would I want to annoy you." They got off. I drove away heading for the Newton road and hell.

And one more thing, the manhole cover has been fixed, well done Torbay Council, and as a bonus they did it on my rest day.

Friday, 8 February 2008

The right way to stop a bus.

Which way DO you stop a bus?
Maybe Stagecoach should have described exactly how you signal a bus to stop in their recent leaflet on how to use a bus. For full story in the Daily Mail click here.
Someone waving, as in the picture on the left could for all I know be waving to a friend or even letting me know he didn't want my bus to save me stopping at the stop. People do that some times, which is nice of them.
An other thing Stagecoach should have included in their leaflet is:- If you get on the bus using a mobil phone don't stand on the platform talking to the person on the other end, the driver, and more importantly, his/her passengers and all the car drivers for 200 yards behing are waiting to GO. Say into the phone, "Hang on a moment I am getting on a bus." Then remove said phone quickly from your ear so you cannot hear the person at the other end having a laugh. Once you are on the bus switch the bloody thing off so as not to annoy your fellow travellers.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Killer Day

Yesterday was bad. There are probably lots of other words I could use to describe it but BAD will do. We have the on going closure of the sea front road between The Pavilion and Belgrave Road for the Rock Walk work, that has meant we are having to come down through town to the Harbour and then back up through town to get back to normal line of route. We all thought that Fleet Walk would be the problem here but getting up Abbey Road is the problem. Also there were road works with tempory traffic lights out at Churston and Stop/Go boards in Avenue Road in Newton but by far the biggest problem was the closure of the back road from Penn Inn to St Marychurch.

This road runs more or less parallel to the main Newton to Torquay road through Kingskerswell and is used by car drivers (thank you to those who do use it) who are looking to avoid the daily snarl up on the main road. Because all these cars were forced onto the main road journey time were increased on a biblical scale.The day was a constant chase, passengers having a moan because they had been waiting ages and then 3 buses would turn up at once and the ongoing frustration of having desperately impatient car and van drivers cut the bus up in a mad attempt to get in front of the bus and thereby shorten their journey time by 0.3 seconds. One such driver did so at the Penn Inn, missing both me and an oncoming HGV by centimetres and then sitting in a queue of traffic in front of me for the next half an hour all the way down to Scott's Bridge 4 miles and 40 minutes down the road.

I arrived in Paignton Bus Station for my meal break so late I was due out in 15 minutes instead of the 52 minutes my running board laughingly suggested I should have. Not a problem, the bus I was taking over was running just as late as I was so I still had my 52 minutes. Control then suggested, after I pointed out that I was 45 minutes late by the time I got through Torquay and I had 3 other buses running toward Newton travelling with me that I turn at Scott's Bridge. I have never turned at Scott's Bridge before in 9 years of doing the 12 route. Usual turning place is Penn in 4 mile further up the road. This put me back on time but only just.Finally I arrived in Brixham at 18:25, due out at 18:45. One bus had just left, the 18:15 and the 18:30 bus had, like me just arrived.

What hadn't turned up was the 18:20 12A and several passengers were standing there waiting anxiously for it. One of the passengers waiting for the bus had also been waiting for a bus out of Brixham when a crash a week ago had closed the road in and out of Brixham for 6 hours and it had taken him 3 hours to get home. So I got on the radio to find out where it was, after several minutes I managered to find out that it was running so late the driver would be unable to operate it as he would end up going over his drivers permitted hours. There is a 12A that runs from Windy Corner at 18:56 but I didn't want to take the passengers there in case that bus was also running very late.

Then a hero emerged. A 12 driver who was due into Brixham in a few minutes volunteered to run out of Brixham as a 12A and get the waiting passengers home. What he should have been doing was driving back to the depot dead (out of service) and then go home. That takes 30 minutes, doing the run round the 12A route would add an extra 30 minutes onto what had already been a long day for all of us. That little act of heroism cheered me up a little as I made my long and weiry way up to Newton Abbot along the still busy Newton Rd.

Day off tomorrow, I am going for a walk round the Rock Walk site then may be a glass or two of beer.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Manchester United

I don't watch football much these days, even on TV but 50 years ago I used to make the trip from Whalley Range where I lived to Old Trafford when ever United were playing. Local away games also to Burnley, Blackpool, Bolton, Sheffield Wed and Utd, Everton thought not Liverpool, they were in the 2nd devision then.

I can still clearly remember hearing the news and wishing it wasn't true. I still wish it wasn't true 50 years on.

Manchester Evening News

Sunday, 3 February 2008

From The Herald Express 01 Feb 2008

I don't want to put you off coming to the Torbay area for your holidays but do be careful if you drive anywhere.

01 February 2008
There have been three fatalities and a number of injuries in a series of South Devon traffic accidents since the year began.

Monday, January 7: An 87-year-old Torquay man died and his elderly woman passenger was left with serious leg injuries after an horrific crash on the main road at Kingskerswell brought parts of South Devon to a standstill.

Wednesday, January 9: Two Stagecoach buses were involved in crashes within a mile of each other on major routes in Torquay.

Tuesday, January 15: A pensioner was taken to Torbay Hospital suffering neck and back injuries after a road accident in Kingskerswell.

Wednesday, January 16: A woman suffered back pain when her car plunged into a safety railing after colliding with another vehicle in Paignton town centre.

Thursday, January 24: Police warned motorists to stay alert after seven cars were damaged in two crashes on the A380.

Thursday, January 24: A mototcyclist, aged 85, died after he was thrown from his bike and collided with a bollard at Kingskerswell, on the main Torquay to Newton Abbot Road.

Sunday, January 27: A trip to a youth football match almost ended in tragedy for a Paignton family after their car flipped over on the Torbay ring road, trapping the mum who was driving.

Monday, January 28: Drivers escaped injury when a police car was in a collision with a Ford Escort van in Torwood Street.

Tuesday, January 29: A family evacuated their Kingswear home when a runaway truck ploughed though a fence and ended up balancing on a bank 12ft above their house.

Tuesday, January 29: A man died and a woman was injured after a two-car accident on the main A3022 road between Churston and Brixham.

Wednesday, January 30: A woman escaped serious injury when her car flipped over in New Road, Brixham.

Wednesday, January 30: A woman was trapped in her car when it hit a hedge and turned on its side near Marldon.

This does not happen on the 12 route.

Not yet anyway.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

More Road Works

More road works, but, and what a good idea, these are being carried out on the section of road that is closed anyway so here is a first, road works and no additional disrupting. Still very quiet in the Bay, not just Torquay. Traders around the Harbour area are complaining the work on Rock Walk is driving trade away. Well it is having far reaching effects because Paignton is quiet, Brixham is quiet, even Newton Abbot is quiet. Come to think of it, it is February which is usually quiet in a seaside town in England, I bet even Benidorm is quiet.

More and more cars are driving up and down Fleet Street, even parking down there both of which are illegal and not much seems to be done about it. I know it is a long way round via the diversion but when we drive along Fleet Street we are aware of the dangers and drive within our speed limit of ten miles per hour. Some of the late drivers tell of cars getting up to 50 mph which IS asking for trouble. Part of the problem here is that drivers will remember that they never got stopped nor heard of anyone else getting stopped and continue using Fleet Street as a short cut even when the Sea Front is open again, which will be soon, I hope.

Oh yes, FirstBus X80 drivers, I know you are new to using Fleet Street but a couple of reminders, buses have a speed limit of 10 mph (yes, I know one or two of our drivers also need reminding of this speed limit) and we do NOT blow our horns at pedestrians who are in our way. It is a pedestrianised street, pedestrians have right of way, sorry that should read "pedestrians have priority." You just have to wait for them to move in their own good time.

And finally, about stopping in town. It seems to have been established that 12s and 12As will stop at all 12/12A bus stops in Union Street, Fleet Walk and Abbey Road what ever their destination. Also 12s and 12As heading to Brixham will also pick up and drop off in Lucius St and Belgrave Road. However buses heading for Newton will not stop on the Strand and buses heading for Brixham will not stop outside the amusement arcades on Cary Parade. I hope that has cleared that little problem up.