Hello and welcome to my Blog, my name is Chris, a bus driver for First Mendip based in Wells, Somerset. Married to Fiona, we live in Midsomer Norton near Bath, with Harvey the dog and Boots the cat. My main hobby is Amateur Radio and I hold the call sign G4KVI. I am the repeater keeper for GB3UB and MB7UB. I have a fascination for the weather and all things to do with nature and science. I am a biker and currently ride a Honda CBfF600. As a Christian I worship, when shifts allow at St. Nicolas Church in Radstock. These are my observations on my life, both at work and at home.

31 May 2008

Wrong Coach

Good couple of days. Today only had Swindon and Bath so asked to do drop off's only. As I finished unloading passengers at Swindon a lady become very upset as she could not find her case. Just what you need. Did the usual and checked all the lockers, no trace. The lady was from Czechoslovakia so bit of trouble understanding. After contacting control it became clear what had happened. The lady had a ticket for Paighton. She had shown the ticket to the driver of the 501 he had loaded the luggage. She walked round the coach I assume, not realising it was right hand drive, boarded on my coach as I was loading luggage. So passenger going to Bath. Luggage going to Paighton. I have to say I do wonder why she did say anything when I announced the destination as I left Heathrow.
The story does have a happy ended as control and Bath traffic arranged to get her to Bristol and then on a train to Paighton. I do hope she finds the case and enjoys her time in England

25 May 2008

'Change as good as a rest'

This week wanted to do same 'money grabbing' so asked if there was any 'rest day'. There wasn't much but the inspector said he would keep an eye out. Just as I was leaving on Friday he came to see me with a short rest day. Turned out a very nice day. First part was refiling 'outstation' buses. As these came in I had to take them out to the depot and get them fuelled and oil and water checks. Next bit was '6 and 7' this did take a bit of thought as they go the opposite way round the city and it is VERY easy to go wrong.Break for lunch and then Uni Park and Ride. Only two trips and no money taken. Off now for two days, raining at present so trying to sort some boxes out.

21 May 2008

SMIDSY

Couple of days off so had the bike serviced today. Also had the front sprocket changed. This has improved the acceleration , top speed, and general ride of the bike. As you know I took park in the Bike Safe event. This gave me a chance to update my skills and highlighted some of the hazards associated with being on two wheels.
This evening I had to pop into the village. The road was dry and the weather was bright and sunny. As I approach junctions and exits onto roads, I look to see if a vehicle is emerging. If I see a vehicle I adjust my road position to give the driver as much chance to see me, and, give me a potential way out. As I approached our local shop I saw a young lad in an old car waiting. I saw him and slowed just as he pulled out. As I had slowed down it was not as bad as it could have been. I shook my head and instead of the driver acknowledging his mistake he gave a me a mouthful of abuse. Not sure what he said!! Anyway this highlights the 'Sorry mate I Didn't See You' . problem, it is such a problem it is known as 'SMIDSY' So, when you drive remember to look, look again and keep looking. I do my best to help other road users to see me so please remember to look for me.

20 May 2008

'Can I get off along here driver?'

This is a question I am always being asked. Passengers seem to think we are a 'Hail and ride' service. I never let passengers on or off unless it is at a National Express stop. I had two incidents when I first started driving buses and as both were at bus stops I was not help to blame. However this got me thinking as I have always been told it is illegal to drop passengers anywhere except a bus stop. I have searched the internet and have found nothing to clarify this. However, I have found the found the First Group Conditions of Carriage. This does clarify things a bit. But still the answer to 'can you drop me here?' will at the next authorised stop.
So if you travel by Bus or coach please don't put the driver on the spot.

17 May 2008

Drinking and driving

I am not an aggressive driver, so it is unusual for me to sound my horn or flash my lights. I always try to see problems before they require drastic action. However two cases today forced me into action.
The first was approaching a 40mph limit. The vehicle in front slowed, and then hit the brakes. He then continued at less than 30mph continually hitting the brakes. I kept a good distance behind but this caused the drivers behind to try and overtake me. This was leading to a potential dangerous situation. I gave a quick flash on the lights to draw the drivers attention. What I got was a hand out the window and a non highway code hand signal!! He pulled over and received a far few horn blasts and angry salutes form the cars behind!! Not sure what he was doing.
The second was on the A4 coming into London. A white van was in land two and swaying into Lane three. I gave a quick flash as he was going well over the white lane. The traffic stopped and I came along side the driver gave me a mouthful. What I was amazed to see was he was holding a cup of tea/coffee in his hand!! he continued on still swaying, I assume he did not want to spill any!!!

13 May 2008

Misleading road signs

Not really much to report. A bit of late running due to traffic and a smashed windscreen, but nothing to really cause any real problems. Or at least not to me. Sorry to those of you who got caught in the traffic problems along the M4 last week.
My gripe this post is the amount of road signs there are. It is good to be informed but even as a professional driver I am now having problems reading the vast amount of signs that warn me of hazards that I can clearly see!!! It is no use putting signs up to warn of a hazard if the sign is so intrusive it becomes a hazard in itself.

I have two very good examples this week. As I left London the overhead signs said 'J12 to 14 accident delays' This carried on all along the motorway. I then had a phone call to tell me the motorway was shut and leave at J12. The motorway was shut!! had the sign said motorway closed I could have gone along the M3. It remained closed for several hours. Still the signs remained the same.

The next one was going in to London. The first sign said 'Scotch corner delays use alternative route' (ie Earls Court) The next sign less than one mile away said 'gasworks Earls court, use alternative route' (ie A4 via Scotch corner)!!

The last one is a classic. Coming towards Scotch corner from Hyde Park the sign indicated Lane 1 or 3 closed. But, yes the reality was lane 3 was closed. This meant all the traffic that had moved into lane 3 was faced with a closed lane. had this been a fast running road the consequences do not bear thinking about.


So to those of you responsible for signs, please make sure you think about waht you say and make sure they are correct!!!!

Any way off for 2 days so enjoying the sun with a nice pint of Bombardier

5 May 2008

Fuel Consumption

Funny day yesterday. Street up, and Fiona was going to a family picnic in Beaconsfield. She came with me in the morning, nice change to have some company. Weather was fine until we got to bath and then a very vicious thunderstorm went through, didn't last long but left some big puddles. Saw Fiona off to Heathrow where my father would pick her up. Realised then that I could have 'thrown in' my '10's and gone with her!! Still too late. The six trips on the 10's were OK. Very busy first off but eased off through the morning. Had a bit of a problem with the bus. The doors would not open from the cab. The inspector changed over the bus and we continued on until 1400. Rest of the day was OK. Out on the bike which I am really enjoying. Been keeping records and the fuel consumption is a little disappointing. Only 98.9mpg!! I have put a link to the file so if you feel a little sad you can read it as well. Hoping to cut the grass today but it is still a little wet. Maybe a cup of tea instead.

3 May 2008

Doors

Lates this week and until yesterday ran on time. Bank Holiday Friday's are always bad but an accident at J5 did not help.
For those of you who have not been to Victoria Coach station you will not have seen the new driver operated doors. These are only able to be opened from the outside by the driver when the coach is ready to board. This is great as it stops heard of people milling around the coaches when you are having a break. However, it also means if you go to the loo or go to get a coffee of something to eat. You cannot get back through the doors!! You have to walk to the end and walk across the concourse. This also gives rise to some funny situations. The passengers who press the button and wait for the door to open (it is manual) having not the first one to work they try ALL of them. The passenger who pushes on the sign that tells them about the door and gets angry when it will not open! ( they may not be able to read English) All in all it has improved the safety at VCS and does stop the 'are you going to Bath?' brigade from disturbing your rest.

My weather data