Saturday, 30 August 2008

Move down inside and STAY THERE! (part two)

Cogidubnus commented on the last blant, and my reply is a tad long, so I decided to make it a fresh Blant entry :)

I'm well aware of the fact that some (not all by any stretch of the imagination) other drivers allow this to slide.

No offence, but that's their problem, not mine - I'm not a copper or a driving examiner, after all; if they want a DSA covert examiner to stop the bus, and revoke their licence on the spot for "Unsafe Driving Practices" (which HAS happened to a few bus drivers in the south east London area in the recent past), then that's their risk, and let's all hope that this happens sooner than later for the offending drivers involved - I say that in all sincerity: Dangerous driving is exactly that, and when one has upwards of 75 passengers' lives and well-being in your hands, lack of concentration on the job at hand does not bear thinking about.

Hell, I even tell folks to step back and wait until the next stop before they try to talk to me - especially when they insanely stick their faces against the assault screen and yell even louder than before I told them to wait! If I have to, I'll keep banging away about this until I'm blue of face, and others are blue of ear: It to do with safety, ride comfort, reduction of risk, and plain common sense, after all. You wouldn't, after all, allow someone in the front seat of your car to block your vision, would you? Of course not. You like your car the way it is, rather than resembling a metal concertina. At the very least, you MUST keep back so that the driver doesn't accidentally let the bus cross the kerb-line; at best, your ears'll get a hefty beating from the grinding sound the bus bottom makes as it scrapes the kerb stones, but at much much worse, the screams of the people at the bus stop he just ran over because you blocked his vision will stay with you for a considerably longer time.

This is the problem that passengers in the main don't think about when they want to know the following:

  • Does the bus call at (name a station)

  • Does the bus stop outside (name a landmark)

  • What time will we get there?

  • Are we there yet (NO! Not now, not the two hundred times they've already asked, and not until we bloody get there! It's rush hour traffic for pities sake!)

  • and so on...

Of course, there is always the one in a billion who actually waits until we got to the next stop before pestering us with questions better left to Priests and Police than lowly bus drivers, but hey, we gotta have some comic relief from time to time ("Fastest way to top yourself? Easy. Go to the cake shop, ask them to pour hundreds and thousands over you. Bingo. Topped" Cue instant nutter on the bus, of course - time for a fast Code Red radio call!)

Anyhow, now you see why it was a fresh Blant to reply to Cogidubnus

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Move down inside and STAY THERE!

OK, here's the latest bus-related rant; I drive (primarily) routes using single-deck 'dart' buses; the ones from my depot only have one set of doors, which are at the front, so they're rather unsurprisingly used by passengers to both get on and get off the bus.

Rant one: folks waiting to get on, not even waiting to let the aged and folks with baby buggies off first. Like pushing and shoving is going to let the bus get moving more quickly. This also applies most especially to youths in uniform, i.e. schoolbrats. Idiots, one and all, for the most part, for the aforementioned reason. I single those idiots out now, a few days before the new term begins, in the sincere and probably forlorn hope that one of their parents might be reading this, and may then seek to properly educate said idiot ;)

Next rant: Standing on the footplate. Please observe the photo, left. Clear as day, that.

When you stand on the footplate (the area between the drivers cab and the front doors), you block the drivers nearside view, with potentially catastrophic results. We look out that damn door to (1) judge where the kerb is, and (2) look for oncoming traffic at junctions. We also use it to (3) look into the nearside mirror, to ensure that some suicidal two-wheeled twit a.k.a. a pedal cyclist, isn't trying to undertake us as we turn left, or pull in, or some form of similar driver manoeuvre.

So, do us all a favour: Wait until everyone who wants to have alighted the bus before you try to get on, and once on, MOVE DOWN INSIDE, and STAY THERE! Do NOT under any except the most dire of emergencies, distract or block the view of the driver while the bus is in motion, or stand anywhere in the footplate area.

You only have yourself to blame if there's a few rude words planted six feet into your skull, should you NOT pay attention to those simple requirements!

Many thanks :)

Thursday, 21 August 2008

On roundabouts...

Y'know, it's rather amazing. Your average motorist does maybe 25 to 45 hours of training behind the wheel in the learner car, before being permitted to take and probably pass his or her driving test. He or she is then (with a few restrictions for new drivers) allowed to do pretty much any kind of driving they like, provided that it's within the rules and guidelines of the Highway Code, Road Traffic Act, and the Construction And Use Regulations, which,to be fair, are fairly relaxed.

Then they start to learn bad habits. Like ploughing through amber traffic lights (and lets' be honest, we've all done that from time to time), blocking yellow box junctions (I try not to do that, especially when driving a bus, as it's now expensive on the fines!), and so on.

However, my pet hate, at the moment (it'll change. Pet hates are like that!) are roundabouts. Specifically the hair brained gormless half wit muppits (and that's the polite version, folks!) who fail to recall that those to the RIGHT have priority to (1) enter the damn thing, and (2) go first in all cases. This is most noticeably the case at so-called mini-roundabouts, or as I have recently come to start calling them, targets.

Why targets? Think shooting. If you're really lucky, you'll get the car that just shoots on without even looking at about mid-way along he car with the front of your vehicle, nicely "T-Boning" it. Bingo, you and your hapless hamburger have just won a prize! In my case, while driving a bus, you're more than likely to be totally irrevocably and completely dead. I'm not joking. Buses will not stop on a dime: They weight upwards of seven and a half tons for the short single-decker darts, up to maybe 19 tons fully laden for a full-size double decker. And you wanna play chicken against all of that with your Nissan Micra? Good bleedin' luck. You're gonna need it.

Case in point. The road in question is a four and a half way target junction (four ways plus a fifth just off one of the junctions). I'm on the southern entrance, just entering it, having slowed to a crawl to check to my right that I'm not about to carve some poor sod up. Nope, road clear; I do a quick scan left right and ahead, all clear (darn well should be at one in the afternoon!), and begin to enter properly - and slam on the anchors. Every one of the aged passengers (it's a granny route) kiss the headrests, writ large. The 4x4 driver didn't even look, he just zoomed through, left to right. Hell, I never even had time to stick on the horn! Thank the stars for forward facing CCTV, or I'd probably be looking at a lost licence right now - two of the passengers were suffering some very painful facial injuries, no joke. Luckily, as I was doing maybe 5 mph, so no broken bones, but the bruising on one lady whose glasses had first impact with the seat back were not nice at all.

It's a hell of a shame that we never got the licence number of the 4x4. We got a lovely shot, I am told, of the driver though. Initially for the first half second, it shows him, in profile, apparently jabbering away on his phone travelling at near-relativistic speed left to right across the screen. This then changes as in the blink of an eye he's looking right at the bus (I never noticed this, I was concentrating too hard on landing ten tons of mass on the brake pedal at the time), eyes wide in fear, dropping his mobile phone (it's apparently blurred as it falls, but unmistakable according to the CCTV officer at my depot), and swerving slightly (seems he jerked the wheel as well).

So, there he is. Framed in glorious technicolour. Not that it'll do us any good. There's so many 4x4s driven on our roads that without the registration plate number, it's impossible to know who the half-wit is. So he's also the luckiest bloody 4x4 moron in London as well, dammit. Wish I'd been a bit faster on the pedal, to be brutally honest. I can sure-fire guarantee that an impact square onto the side of the bus WOULD have stopped him, no arguments.

So, in the hope that you're a driver, do us all a favour. Drive like you were taught. STOP before entering a roundabout (at the very least, slow to a dead crawl), and look before you do something that might result in a fatal collision. And finally, DON'T USE YOUR PHONE while driving!

Ahem :)

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Idiot Test...

A mate of mine just sent this via instant messenger...

Idiot Test

If you get higher than Average, drop me a comment :)

One idiot at a time, please...

I'm sure every bus driver get this on some routes; we get it on three out of my depot, and I work a rota that encompasses two of them. I must be stark raving bloody mad. Here's why...

On some routes, you have points where both directions are served by a single bus stop, or two located next to each other. For those who are common-sense-challenged (i.e. they can't be asked to read the information on the bus stop), it can be a confusing issue. For bus drivers who are the brunt of this confusion, it's not just annoying, it's downright infuriating!

Picture this; you are fifteen minutes late due to horrendous traffic and rain, your leader (the bus in front) has broken down, and as a result you now have a full bus, you're being stopped at every stop by passengers getting off and on, you've been denied a 'turn' (bus driver speak for cutting the service short to allow late buses to get back on time on the return leg) as your leader broke down (tell us something we don't already know!), you only have five minutes of stand time at the other end of the route (the time permitted on the bus stand at the either end of the route, during which time you have to change the settings on your ticket machine, change the destination blind display, enter your route timings on your Log Card, and oh yes, find yet more time to find a toilet as you're about ready to burst from all the coffee you had earlier that morning), when you stop at a bi-directional bus stop, and are confronted by a customer with a confused look on his/her/its face...

Customer: "Does this but go to X?"
Driver: "No, you want the other direction, it'll have 'X' on the front, not 'Y', like this one. We both serve this stop, so wait here, and it'll be along soon".
Customer: "So you don't go to 'X'?"
Driver: "No. We're going to 'Y'."
Customer: "So where do I catch the bus to 'X', then?"
Driver: "Here. Make sure it's showing 'X' on the front, though, as both directions serve this stop".
Customer: "But you've stopped here, aren't you going to "X"?"

Remembering that you're late, you aren't getting a turn, and that your bladder is about ready to burst through the front of your abdomen, do you:

A: Scream in frustration
B: Cross your legs, bounce on the seat, and patiently explain the situation again
C: Leap out of the cab, and perform a series of actions leading to the statement "And that, Your Honour, is when I ripped his arm out of its' socket and beat him about the head with the soggy end".


Oh well. One can hope and dream, can't one?

Monday, 4 August 2008

Coffee, Keyboard - SPRAY!

So, here it is, 4:25am, and I'm getting ready for work (life on the buses is REALLY unsociable, know what I mean?), and I've fired up my browser to check the news, etc, while I wake up, and open up firefox, the default page for which is my "igoogle" page. You can configure "igoogle" to display all manner of things. Mine includes a daily horoscope, mainly because I like a good laugh in the morning ;)

This morning is a damn fine example, given my trade...

Check the highlighted text!

Not so much time to bite my lip, more like bite my finger?!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Cool sign time :)

OK, this made me laugh and spill coffee, so it must be good :)

It's on the back of a towed World War Two artillery Piece belonging to a military vehicle preservation group I know; I popped over to their display near Ringmer in Sussex the other weekend, and only just found the photo this evening :) Click on the photo above to get a larger version of it, so you can read the text on the sign more easily :)

Just don't be drinking (or eating) anything when you read it ;)

Retroactive post... erm... "Stick to the facts, Ma'am"!

OK, I'll admit I chuckled when I read this (I happen to like Sci-Fi), but after a while, I got thinking... not everyone likes science fiction, so sticking a blatantly Sci-Fi reference in an advertisement for a coach is a little silly, wouldn't you say? It may well turn off the punters you're looking to do business with in the first place. Far better, I suspect, to "Stick to the facts, Ma'am" ;)

oh, I wish, really, I WISH!

Nope. They aren't taking it down, dammit :(

They're doing planned maintenance instead, by "replacing the head unit".

But damn, I wish they'd taken the damn thing down: I'm sure they cause more problems than they allegedly solve - even Swindon council have finally said "No" to the Scameras!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Back to London with a bump (NOT mine, I hasten to add!)

OK, it's a Saturday. It's been raining, and on my last round, someone decided to make my shift a wee bit longer, by demolishing a traffic light pillar!

To the left, the queue behind me as I realised that all was not exactly well with the traffic... so, since I hadn't been going anywhere for five minutes, the traffic was standing still, and a fair number of drivers were getting out of their cars, I decided to record the moment for the blant, by capturing the unhappy impromptu campers behind me in the queue, stuck behind several buses who in turn are stuck in the traffic :) No point in trying to photograph to the front: It's obscured by said buses!

And here's why... erm... can one say "OOPS!"?

In all fairness (thought I'm damned if I know why I'm doing this, lol) I should point out that the double decker from Arriva you see behind the wreck did NOT cause it by shunting into the gormeless muppit, although I'm sure he was severely tempted - shades of (insert broad saaaaarf London accent ;)) "Toldja you'd come a cropper playin' chikin wiv a Lunnun Bus!"

No, it's all a bit more mundane than that, I'm afraid. Apparently, said gormless muppit decided to do a Michael Schumacher round the wet corner, lost grip, and went head-first into the traffic light column, demolishing both it and his car. The fact that he wasn't in an F1 Racing car, in a flame-proof jumpsuit, wearing a full-face helmet with radio, water, and uncle Tom Cobbly as well, obviously never entered his mind. Rather expensive lesson that :)

And I still didn't win the bloody Euro Lottery last night, dammit :(

Still, one less muppit to worry about while I'm at work tomorrow, I suppose :)