Sunday, 28 September 2008
A boy on his way home from school jumps over a barrier near a set of traffic lights and is hit by a bus. To save you running the video back to check the lights were on green and the bus stopped in less than 60 feet so it was being driven at about 25 mph. One thing you are always aware of when you are driving a bus is how much damage you can do to the human body with the front of a bus. The report said the boy, though injured had made a full recovery. How about the driver? Something like that doesn't go away for a long time.
To see the video click here
First game is next Sunday away to Newton Abbot and the team have been training hard and can look forward to an enjoyable and hopefully a winning season. I will post the occasional report here.
Saturday, 27 September 2008
After about a minute and the status quo is still status quoing you might begin to think there has in fact been an accident. So you decide to take a photo of the stationary traffic for the record. Watching carefully for movement in the traffic ahead you take your camera out of your bag. All the time you are ready to return the camera to the bag without taking the photo if any of the 15 vehicles ahead show any sign of movement. But they don't so you take the photo and still watching the traffic you return the camera to your bag. This takes about 15 seconds. By now more than 2 minutes has passed since you stopped. An other minute passes and the traffic starts to move.
Oh yes, imagine this was the photo you took.
Someone from your company's management team saw you take the photo. Remember you are imagining all of this, what exactly do you expect to happen now?
Friday, 26 September 2008
The Ferry across the Bay run by Stagecoach ends this weekend, I do believe Stagecoach are offering a £3.00 return on Sunday, I haven't seen that written down so don't shout at me if it isn't true. I have been over to Brixham and back on the cat. fast compared with the bus and a lot more restful, no stopping and starting every few minutes at bus stops, traffic lights, road works and betting shops. More expensive than the bus and not much use it you want to get on or off anywhere but Torquay or Brixham.
It's also OK if you are in a hurry but if you just want a trip across the Bay then get the Western Lady. You can sit out in the open and feel the wind and sun and you will feel like you have been on a boat trip and not just zipped over from Brixham for an important meeting. And good luck in a force ten gale. I was speaking to someone from Stagecoach who did say the trial has gone well and all it needs now was £3 million quid to buy two boats and a million, from Torbay Council to improve landing and passenger waiting facilities at both ends and it will be up and running next Spring. Enjoy.
Thursday, 25 September 2008
Next concerns a video on YouTube I heard about. It's called 'Battle at Kruger.' It lasts 8 minutes and is about life in Kruger National Park. Next time the cat brings a struggling mouse in through the cat flap I am going to check for a crocodile coming up the garden path.
And finally years after everyone in Torquay had forgotten the council once banned 'Life of Brian' someone tried to show the film at a festival. What didn't our wonderful council do? Up hold the Ban? Who said yes? What do you think are council consists of? A bunch of reactionary old farts? In 1979 they may have been or had shares in the cinema in the next town but now they are a forward looking progressive group of politicians really hoping the twenty first century might turn up some time, I mean to say we have only just got parking meters here in Torquay. This week. How forward looking is that?
Oh yes, there is a Facebook group called 'Save the Giant's chair on Dartmoor' has 440 members and is growing fast.
Mr Bruce, a former furniture maker, said he hoped the campaign would be successful and is working to renew the planning permission.
He said: "If the chair was being threatened, the more voices to promote it, the better."
Sam Shields, from Plymouth, created the campaign.
His statement on the website said: "Please can you invite your friends and post any pictures you take.
"Lots of locals do not know it is even there, as it is not in any tourist books."
Another poster, Mark Jeffrey, says: "If they can leave the Angel of the North alone then they can leave our chair alone as well."
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
So, unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I stood at the front of the queue and in that loud, commanding voice I am known for on two continents, I asked. 15 people, kind souls bless them moved over and formed the new queue. An off duty bus driver who had been on the 32 even helped out by getting off and joining said new queue. Would it be enough. After all the effort on my part and cooperation on the part of the waiting passengers it deserved to. Well I am sorry to report that when the 32 pulled away looking like a sardine tin, without the tomato ketchup fortunately, there were 6 of us still standing on the Strand waiting for the next bus which was due in 60 minutes. We would learn patience waiting for Stagecoach, or we would wander off and sadly never come to Teignmouth.
I got the 33 to Marychurch in the off chance that it might get there at the same time as the 32 and there might be by now empty seats or even some empty floor space to stand on. But it had gone when we got there. I went for a walk round Marychurch and caught the next bus an hour later, I still had to stand part of the way. Just managed to get the number 2 up to Dawlish, the bus was an Enviro 400. A newish bus, less than a year old. I sat in my 2nd favourite seat on a bus, downstairs over the back wheel. You're high up and have a good view. Let me just say this, the last time I sat on a seat this hard it was in a park and called a bench.
A few pictures of Dawlish and the Black Swans and Mr Brunel's railway line. I S Brunel might well have been the greatest engineer ever but it would have been much nicer if he had put his blood railway line somewhere other than 3 feet away from the beach.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
10:47 we pulled into the bus station and the bay where the 155 goes from was empty. No queue of people standing there waiting patiently, Bugger, bus must have gone. So I paid a visit to the travel shop to look for alternatives to far away Ilfracombe. Then I was just about to go and get a coffee and scan the timetables when a former colleague from Torquay walked by and I said hello. That is all I said except, "Got to go. There's my bus". 155 15 minutes late. Oh goodie, Ilfracombe back on the agenda one more. We set off 20 mins late and the trip to Barnstaple was basically uneventful apart from the fact that I was now travelling through parts of Devon I had never been to before and into some towns and villages I had never even heard off, next time I make this trip I will do a bit of research first so I know where I am. Barnstaple turned up a couple of hours later and 30 mins late but there was a number 3A waiting on the stand for the last leg, a half hour trip to the north coast.
On the way into the town we went past the local nuclear power plant cleverly disguised as the local theatre, imaginative thinking here by the local council with an eye on the probably rise in the cost of power that faces us all.
Photos, fish and chips and a walk round the town, sorry Ilfracombe but you just ain’t as pretty as Torquay and where is the beach? Then a pint, big pub but only one person in the place and then back to the bus station. I will never say anything nasty about Paignton Bus Station again. I caught a number 3 this time which missed out the trip round the houses and out to the Tesco supermarket and some back to Barnstaple. Bus station was full with shoppers and students waiting for the 155 which left on time. In Exeter I had enough time for a cup of coffee before the last X46 back to Torquay.
One more thing, Sorry two more things; I travelled on 6 different buses, two of them operated by First and 4 by Stagecoach. All of them for free. On the tickets I got on the First buses there was printed a warning that at the end of September the old type of bus passes would no longer be accepted and passengers with the old passes should make sure they got new ones before the end of the month. Stagecoach didn’t give such a warning. So if you are still using a pass issued last year get down to your local council office with some form of photo ID and proof of where you live NOW and get a new style bus passes or next Wednesday YOU will have to pay for your bus rides, instead of the poor tax payer paying.
The other thing concerned a mobile phone and a driver, who answered said mobile phone while driving the bus. Not a good idea that. Not something I personally have ever done.
More photos of Ilfracombe click here.
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Talking of America, one more thing that may be on it way from the land of the free is the Yellow School Bus. The government is being urged to introduce US-style yellow school buses for primary schools across Britain.
The Yellow School Bus Commission, chaired by the former education secretary, David Blunkett, said it could "revolutionise" the school run.
A year-long review found the numbers of children being driven to school by car had doubled in the past 20 years.
The cross-party commission found that introducing yellow buses could mean millions fewer car journeys each year.
Currently, 6,600 UK pupils use yellow buses as part of 20 pilot schemes - they usually have extra safety features like CCTV and students generally have allocated seats.
In its report, the commission says they offer numerous benefits - from a safe journey to school to reducing congestion, reducing pollution and improving attendance times at schools.
It found that 41% of primary school pupils and 21% of secondary school pupils were being taken to school by car - accounting for 20% of car journeys during the morning rush hour and about one million tonnes of CO2 each year.
Cost could be between £50 and £100 million. How exactly it will run is hard to say. I do know bus companies would be hard pressed to run something like this, extra drivers would be needed between 7:00 and 9:30am and 3:00 and 5;00pm which is just when the companies need all the drivers they can get to run their own buses. I have a feeling in the USA schools employ their own bus drivers (I sit in front of my computer ready to be corrected) who only drive the school runs. A similar system here? A relief for drivers arriving in Newton Abbot around 3:30 in the afternoon.
Finally for this post an apology. I haven't been posting with as much zeal as I used to. Without the excitement of bus driving to give me something to report, Stagecoach and I have parted company, I have kind of got out of the habit of posting. I will however make a big effort to find something to write about, even if it is only a bit of bus riding. Like the other day I went to Ilfacombe on the north coast of Devon. Six different buses there and back. More about that tomorrow including the driver who used a mobile while driving along the road at 40 mph with loads of passengers on the bus. Naughty person
See you all tomorrow.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
Driver stopped bus 'to place bet' claim
Saturday, September 13, 2008, 10:10
A BUS driver has been suspended after he allegedly pulled his bus over and told passengers to wait ‘a few minutes’ while he disappeared into a Newton Abbot bookmakers.
Mum of one Kerry Williams, claims the driver of the number 77 bus travelling from Buckland to Newton Abbot town centre, pulled the bus over outside Ladbrokes on Queen Street while he placed a bet.
The alleged incident happened at about 9.50am on Saturday.
Stagecoach have since ‘relieved the driver of his duties’ while an investigation into the matter is carried out.
Miss Williams explained she was waiting for her 11-year-old daughter Melanie at Sherborne Road bus station.
The bus was late arriving and I was starting to wonder where it was when I saw my daughter walking towards me.
“She told me that when the bus got to Queen Street, the driver stopped outside of Ladbrokes the bookmakers and told the passengers that he would only be a few minutes. He left the bus and my daughter believed he went into the bookmakers,” Miss Williams claimed.
A Stagecoach spokesman said: “We are carrying out a full and thorough investigation with the driver concerned in order to take appropriate action. The driver has been relieved of his duties as a precautionary measure during the investigation.”
The last time I had a bet on a horse it was called Devon Lock, I lost a week's pocket money and it put me off betting for life.
Eventually, 48 minutes after I got to the bus stop in Paignton I arrived at Cary Parade in Torquay. Almost double the advertised journey time. 80 people got off which meant 10 of them must have been standing. Then on Friday I went to catch a 32/33 in Abbey Rd. They are every 15 minutes according to the timetable and I got to the stop 2 minutes before the bus was due. 28 minutes later it turned up, standing room only once again.
In the past Stagecoach have kept the summer timetables, which give more running time, until the 3rd week in September but this year winter times started in the first week of September. There are still plenty of holidaymakers about and the buses don't seem to be coping despite the notice on the side of the buses which proudly proclaims, "A Change for the Better." Yeah, right.
Friday, 12 September 2008
A kangaroo met an unlikely death after it bounded into the surf and was mauled by a shark, according to eyewitnesses.
Daniel Hurst, who says he saw the incident while out walking his dogs, was accused of being drunk or on drugs after he told the story to friends.
But the emergence of a second witness and the discovery of mangled kangaroo remains appear to confirm his story.
Experts say kangaroos will take to the sea only if they are ill or in danger.
Mr Hurst said he was walking along Torquay beach when he saw the marsupial behind scrubland next to the dunes.
"It just headed down towards the water and in it went," he told News Reporters.
"There's a bit of a rip in that area so... the kangaroo could have been dragged out, but I could still see its head, and that's when the shark leapt out of the water on its side.
"The kangaroo disappeared after that. I stayed around for a while, just very interested, and hoping the shark jumped again, but it never eventuated."
The unlikely tale appears to have been backed up by local officials, who discovered a kangaroo carcass on the beach.
Friday, 5 September 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008, 07:00
LIB DEM councillors in the Bay have joined forces with their MP to launch a survey of bus users.
Torbay councillors have teamed up with Bay MP Adrian Sanders to look at the reliability of local bus services, how often people use them, when they travel and problems users have while travelling to particular destinations or accessing buses.
The survey is being circulated throughout the borough.
Mr Sanders said: "My postbag always contains a number of letters from constituents highlighting issues which they have with local bus services.
"This survey will give my councillor colleagues and myself some very useful information we can use to try to improve the services."
The leader of the Lib Dem group on Torbay Council, Steve Darling, said: "My fellow councillors and myself have been made aware by local people of a number of particular issues they face which they would like to be tackled.
"These include a lack of capacity, with people being left stranded at the bus stop because the bus is full.
"Also, the standard of buses which are used on some of the inner residential areas is not as good as those on the main routes.
"The survey will also help highlight any other issues which bus users are facing, which we will take up with the council and the bus companies."
A Stagecoach spokeswoman said: "We have not been informed of this survey.
"However, we do welcome any feedback from our passengers and we look forward to the results."
The second I get to see the results I will post them here. Could be very interesting. At least from Monday 08 Sept the 32 will be restored to it's pre summer route up to Babbacombe and St Marychurch and passengers will no longer have to go through the chore of changing buses at the Strand in what was seen by many as a way of getting more money from the council via the concessionary bus pass scheme. Also the number 33 will raise it's head again, back from it's pre Hitditch days. It will travel in a big circle around Marychurch, Barton, the Willows, The Hospital, Shiphay, Chelston, Town, The Strand and back up to Marychurch, a 5 minute rest and then doing the same thing all over again. In both directions.
Thursday, 4 September 2008
Here is a video of the Catamaran leaving Torquay on it's way to Brixham with about 40 passengers. About 60 disembarked when it pulled in. It seems to be going fairly well regards to passenger numbers with everyone saying nice things about the trip as they left the boat. There have been stories going round that the boat ran over some dolphins out in the Bay but what was happening was the dolphins came out to play in front of the boat just as dolphins do. In the end the driver just pulled round them and left then playing happily with a half eaten herring the way all predators play with their food.
When this ferry was first mentioned by Stagecoach they said they were going to spend £4 million getting two boats built in South Africa. Now it appears they are, if thousands and thousands of people do use the service in the next month, looking to hire or buy a boat locally to use. A slight change of plan.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
In case you still aren't sure it is a high tech canal lock that replaces about 7 or 8 old style locks to join one canal to an other. Once a boat sails in either or both locks the whole thing turns anticlockwise and one moves up and the other moves down. It is so well balanced that it can move hundreds of boats a day for less than £10.00 worth of electricity. It is a pity there aren't two canals in Torbay with a height difference of 65 metres, something like this would be a far better attraction that the balloon and it doesn't need to worry about the wind speed getting above 10 mph. The visitors centre next to it wasn't built or planned when the Wheel was built in 2002, opened by the Queen, but so many people turned up to watch it working the centre went up in double quick time. Boat trips run twice an hour and tend to be fairly full but they do travel a lot slower than Torbays own Catamaran. The swan is happy because there are no notices saying 'Don't feed the swans'.