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.

24 Feb 2012

New Ticket machines

Bit late on posting this but as regular bus users will now First has upgraded all it's ticket machines. Like every new thing there are good and bad about the new machines. I get the impression that the designer did not spend much time travelling on buses. They also do not seem as robust and 'bullet prove' as our previous machines. However they have the facility to read 'smart cards' and take payments from smart phones. They also have GPS, which once activated will enable full real time tracking, All this I see as a benefit to both drivers and passengers.Also many of the routes are being upgraded to  Showcase routes as the  Travel + web site states the key benefits of these are
The key benefits of the new showcase corridors are:
  • New bus priority measures - such as bus only lanes and traffic lights which turn green as the bus approaches. Driver notes : These are great for getting back at the driver who is desperate to overtake you
  • New bus shelters, larger bus timetable displays with more detailed information and raised kerbs to improve access. Driver Notes : These are great as we now have low floor buses have a look at the front nearside of most buses for an explanation.
  • New buses - our partners First have invested £20m in more than 120 new buses. Driver Notes : I assume this means the NEW manual mini buses we have in Bath.
  • Real time information - displays at bus stops which tell you when the bus is due to arrive in real time. Driver Notes : These seem to have some problems out in the sticks due to the hills, which of course in where you really need it.
  • Improvements for all road users - such as cycle lanes, new pedestrian crossings and general road widening Driver Note : IF ONLY THE CYCLIST AND PEDESTRIANS WOULD USE THEM.

19 Feb 2012

Bike

Over the last couple of weeks time and money spent on the bike. It passed the MOT with a couple of advisories for the chain, brake discs and the front wheel bearing. My bike does not have a centre stand which makes working on it a bit difficult. I have therefore bought a paddock stand which will enable me to do most jobs. I have had the chain and sprockets replaced and due to the age of the bike and it's lack of love I took to my local dealer who did the job for a very far price. Weather is improving and have had some rather pleasant rides to and from work.

17 Feb 2012

When things go wrong

Leading on from my previous post about Venerable Road uses. This shows that even if the VRU is in the right it is them that suffers.

 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-17066798

So what about the current buses

Just seen this article on a direct service from Radstock/ Midsomer Norton to Bristol. great news as the current 178 is a little long! Any way the thing that stands out is -

In Paulton, service 379 will run via High Street instead of Ham Lane and Brittens Hill because the buses will be too big to negotiate the narrow sections of road. In Bristol, service 379 will run via Victoria Street, Baldwin Street and the city centre.

This service currently uses the exact same buses Volvo B7 as the 178 and 178 which uses Volvo B7, Dennis darts and Volvo Deckers. The narrow section I assume is Ham lane. This is VERY narrow and requires more luck than skill to avoid hitting the wall or parked cars. So my question is if it is too narrow for the 379 than what happens when same the vehicle is used on the 178/179???

The picture below gives some idea of the width of the road. Remember a bus is up to 8ft wide.Life gets REALLY inserting when  you meet another bus down here.




View Larger Map

15 Feb 2012

Blue Badge Holders.

I come across many Blue Badge users during the day and most seem unaware or choose to ignore the rules.  Today though a blue badge user went to new heights.
As I went to turn right in to a road a Bath a vehicle was stopped a few feet from the junction. This is not unusual as people sometimes stop to check a map. Anyway a gave a toot on the horn and expected the driver to see the three buses behind him and move off. However, he did nothing and continued to read his newspaper. I gave another toot and the driver moved down the road into a narrow section, once again blocking the road. I gave another rather longer toot and the driver waved his blue badge at me. At this point I got out and went up to the gent and advised he was blocking the road. He told me that as a professional driver I should be able to get past. That would have meant mounting the pavement which of course is against the law


You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.
[Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & RTA 1988 sect 34]

The gent did then move, by mounting the pavement !


So how many rules did this gent break. Well just about them all.

parking opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space;

where it would make the road narrow, such as by a traffic island or roadworks;

where it would hold up traffic, such as in narrow stretches of road or blocking vehicle entrances;


on a pavement, unless signs permit it.

If you do have a blue badge and use it correctly I apologise but please ensure you read the rules and responsibilities that come with it. You can find them here.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/disabledpeople/motoringandtransport/dg_4001061

11 Feb 2012

Venerable road users

Ok, for those that know me will realise I do not have much regard for cyclists. This comes only from what I see in my daily travels. However, I thought it might me a good idea to try being a little more positive so I have come up with some advise for Venerable Road Users. This includes, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.
The main thing to note is that if a VRU comes into contact with other road users the result is more than likely the death of the VRU. So my view is that the VRU's need to practice defensive working and stop blaming the other road users.VRU's must assume other road users HAVE NOT seen them and act appropriately. You need to ensure you make yourself visible, by using lights, reflective clothing or even using a bell or whistle.
When I took park in some motorcycle training a Police officer told me.

'It is no use stating you were in the right while sitting in the back of an Ambulance'


7 Feb 2012

Winter driving survival kit



An interesting short video on what to have in your car in winter.                      



                             

Winter driving tips






Another video, this time on driving in winter conditions


              

5 Feb 2012

Health Update

Nearly three months since the illness that changed our lives in ways that only now are we realising. I have made a very good recovery only now left with headaches, tiredness and short to medium memory lapses. Of course these are things that a lot of people have and may have nothing to do with the meningitis.  The one thing that does stand out is a mental one. When I find myself in a situation such as walking the dog or on an empty bus,I do find myself reflecting on how incredibly lucky I have been and thinking a lot of 'what ifs'. But, I am here, I survived and I have a life to live, and perhaps some work for the Lord to do. I have learned how devastating this illness can be and how quickly it can strike, so I ask you to have a look at the various organisations sites listed on the left here, because as we found out it can strike anyone.

1 Feb 2012

Driving at the Olympics

As you may know I volunteered to work at the Olympics. I have now been told I will be working at the Weymouth Park and Ride. I have to say when I heard I was a little disappointed until of course I realised it's by the sea, and in August. I don't anticipate much free time to sit by the sea, but having worked in London in August I know what it can be like. I have to attend a training day where I assume I will find out more information.

My weather data