Parking Problems

One of a bus drivers pet hates is parking.

No not parking the bus but other road users parking at the bus stop. Now some I can understand. The securicor van, for example, they have a limited time to get in and out of the place they are delivering to before an alarm goes off and the men with big guns turn up. Others though are just selfish and those are the ones that I cannot stand parking on the bus stop. How difficult is it to see the big letters on the road saying “Bus Stop”

Anyway, I had the wonderful pleasure of seeing justice served one sunny morning.

I was sitting at the terminus waiting for my scheduled departure time when I yuppie in a bright red Audi A3 screeched to a halt about 200 yards down the road at a very clearly marked bus stop. He stopped his car at almost 90 degrees to the kerb and about 3 foot from his front bumper to the pavement. Yeah he stopped it. He jumped out and swaggered with a “Yeah whos gonna mess with me” attitude over to the cash point to get a wedge of cash. Well he was going to need it. He had stopped his car about 3 foot away from a parking attendent who was being escorted on his rounds by a full uniformed police officer. Yeah thats right the chap had parked both badly and illegaly infront of a parking warden and a police officer. I couldnt wait to see what happened next.

The officer started talking into his radio and the warden started doing his thing with the ticket computer. Just as the ticket was being printed the chap finished with the cash point and swaggered back over to his car, totally ignoring the warden and the officer, only to be stopped by the officer.

Sadly i was too far away to hear what was being said but from the way the chap was waving his arms around he wasnt too happy that his wonderful effort at parking had been rewarded with all this attention. Well it was about to get worse.

The tow truck arrived. Yup the officer had been calling for the local tow truck to come and take this car away! When the driver saw this his arm movement became frantic and he started waving the wedge of cash that he had just gotten out of the cash point in the officers face. Bad Move! The officer was not impressed and started reaching for his cuffs. I guess he had been having a bad day and this was the final straw.

While this was going on the tow truck driver was very calmly attaching the lifting rig to the car and waited for the signal to lift the car away. This he did as soon as the officer went for the cuffs.

Justice was served. For parking at a bus stop. Loss of car.

For waving cash in an police officers face. Big fine

Sadly this gentleman now needed to get a bus. I think you can see what happened next.

Yup, he got on mine. Or rather he tried to. He had no change and only £20 notes. He tried the pity vote “Ive just had my car towed away and I have no change”

“Sorry sir its exact change only or I cant let you travel. You can put the £20 in if you want but that is your choice”

“Oh man” **sigh** “I really need to get there now though” **searches pockets one last time** “Damn it” **folds up £20 note and places it in the cash chute** “£1.50 please mate”

Ouch thats one expensive ticket. Parking fine, Tow fee, Storage fee, Release fee, and last but not least the bus ticket.

I saw the man later on in the week. He had got his car back and this time he managed to avoid parking on the bus stop and found a parking bay to use!

Ask the Driver Answers

Well I only had 3 questions asked me this week so I think that I will try and answer them the best that i can

Focalplane asked:

“The other day on Flickr the subject was the old Birmingham City Corporation fleet and I well remember the 96 Lodge Road service. Does it still exist? I only rode the bus from town to the top of Newhall Hill and never actually went to Lodge Road! The other bus service I remember was the 7 Portland Road (I think) I know I used it to visit an aging aunt who lived off Rotten Park Road. This was all way back in time – the 1950s! Would love to know more from an expert!”

Sadly I am not old enough to remember the BCC fleet. The only 96 route that I remember is the one that has been replaced (in part) by the 97A Bluebell Drive to City Center route. Very sorry that I cant help you out any more. As for the number 7 is run out of another garage to mine so I cant help you with that one, sorry.

Derek Balm asked

“Have you ever driven a BendiBus?
Does one require specialist training in order to drive one.”

 

I have not yet had the pleasure of driving one of the route 67 bendi bus and I must say that if i was given the chance I would love to. I would imagine that they would be interesting to drive with the extra length as well as the bend in the middle. I believe that you do require special training for it. It may just be to get the extra notes on your driving licence as it is an articulated vehicle and they require and extra category.

Arty asked:

“Why do people become bus drivers for TWM?

What is moral like?

If your bus is running late, and you get home late, can you claim back the time, or do you get paid for it?

What improvements would you make if you could?”

I can only answer these from my own point of view. I joined TWM as a “stopgap” measure. I needed a job to get money in to pay the bills and it seemed like something I could do. So i applied, took all the tests, dealt with the training and they let me loose on my own

The moral at my garage is OK at the moment. It has been much better and it also has been much lower. Drivers are very solitary beasts as we are out on the road on our own.

If our bus is running late we try to get “turned” that is put back on time by the controllers in the office. This can vary from only doing part of the route and turning round or going straight from the outer to inner terminus out of service (no passengers) both are supposed to get us back on time and usually do. If It happens that we are so late we finish late then we can claim the time back as overtime but they usually work it so that we finish on time.

Improvements that I would make are too many to list here. The company has gotten better in some areas since Ive joined but at the same time has gotten worse in others.

OK well I think that Ive answered those as best I can. Feel free to ask more and I hope to get more questions for next week.

A Thank You

I was brought up to always say thank you when someone does something for you. So a very big thank you to the wonderful people at Birmingham: Its Not Shit for mentioning my litle blog HERE.

Please pay them a visit and have a look around. Its a very good site and I enjoy it.

The Vomit Bus

All was well on my bus for the evening. Passengers were being nice for a change and I was starting to enjoy the shift. It had been very very quiet that night and I remember thinking to myself “I hope that this isnt the calm before the storm” I should have kept my mouth shut.

It wasnt even a Friday and on my last trip (yup my last trip) I pick up a group of well lubricated young ladies that were wearing as little as possible.

“Oh F*** its cold” one of them said as she staggered onto the bus and showed me a slip of paper that I took to be a day ticket. Even the ticket looked like it had had one too many.

They all produced these soggy tickets and surprisingly they were all in date and so they all made the treck up to the back of the bus. None fell over on the way though.

And so my last trip started. It was fairly quiet with the exception of these ladies singing (out of tune) along with their phones. All was fine until i got about half way along the run.

“Driv, I think my friends been sick” one of them says as she staggers off the bus.

“Ughhhhhhhhhhhh” says the friend as she falls off the bus and just about avoids the bus stop

“Oh god, Where?” says I

“The stairs”

“Oh crap” I reply as i leave the seat to make sure (stupid i know but it has to be done). “Oh great” I was treated to the sight of this poor womans stomach contents dripping down the stairs from the top deck. I almost lose my lunch at the smell of it all and my passengers aint too pleased about it either. So i radio the office, knowing what the response will be, but doing it anyway so they cant yell at me.

“Rope the stairs off and dont let anyone up there” comes the reply

“Ah well” moans I, having already used about 20 foot of ticket roll to rope off the stairs. I ask the passengers downstairs to open all the window, I switch the heaters over to “vent” and open my cab window so that I can survive. Oh and did i mention that it was a very very cold night. So now I am driving along freezing and trying to hold back my own dinner as a result of the smell. The worse thing was that the other passengers couldnt even get the bus behind me because there was no bus behind me. Several of my passengers complained to me about the smell but all I could do was to apologise to them. The office wasnt going to send out a replacement bus at this time of night and I had only 40 mins left anyway.

I just about made it back to the garage and when the engineer spotted me he started laughing and called over the trainee and got him to go on first to clean it.

Me…. i made it to the toilet and finally gave up the battle with my dinner.

What a way to end my nigh.

Ask The Driver

Somebody made a suggestion to me and I thought that it would be a good idea to try it out.

Once a week on a Saturday I will select and answer a question that a reader asks. Or at least I will try to.

If you want to ask me a question you can leave a comment here or e-mail me at the address listed in the contact page.

So ask away.

Rep-Mobile Idiots

Oh man what a way to end my day.

All was good, yes I was on early mornings and its getting harder and harder to get out of my nice warm bed at 3am to drive a fridge errr sorry bus. Once you get past the initial shock of the early morning chill and get a good hot cup of brown inside you at the garage its fine. Everyone is in the same sort of mood and the banter is light and for the most part friendly. I locate my bus…ahhh bit of a problem there. Its parked in the middle of a row and those around it dont go out till after mine. A quick grumble at the engineer in charge and he moves the bus around so I can lurch out. As i trundle along to the starting point I cant help thinking about what the day will bring.

This day brought sunshine and smiles, yes smiles, from my passengers and from me and the day was going great. I had people say sorry for not having their fare ready. Someone even apologised when I pointed out to them that their pass was out of date. Days like this are very very rare.

It came to an end towards the end of my shift though. I was travelling along a road that has a car park just off it and to get to the car park there is a small slip road. Now the car park was full and there was already a line of cars forming. Infront of me was the dreaded rep-mobile. Brand new 08 reg Audi A8. He stopped his car in just the wrong place. He blocked the road. I couldnt get past and he didnt care. I honked my horn. He ignored it. Made a point of looking out of the window. I honked again for longer, nothing. I flicked the attack alarm on….This got a reaction from him. By now my passengers that wanted to get off at the stop about 30 yards away were yelling at him…I was almost yelling at him. He then turns the engine off and gets out of his car…Walks to the parking attendant that is sitting in the little hut and starts to argue with him. No idea what was said but it resulted in a very red faced rep returning to his car, not making eye contact with me at all, and trying to get in before remembering that he had locked it. He got in and finally sped off to the car park 70 yards further up the road. What a prat. Most of my passengers cheered when he moved away. The line of cars behind me was amazing. Must have been about a half mile long and all caused by this little idiot with no brain.

That wasnt the only one that I met up with though.

I got to a traffic island and as nothing was approaching from the right I ventured out. To my horror another rep-mobile spead down the road at about Mach 3 went up the inside of me on the island, narrowly missing both me and the signs on the island. He then slams on the brakes and makes a very nasty left turn accross infront of me just avoiding another set of signs with the back of his car and vanishes off into the distance.

Wheres a police car when you need one that guy is going to get someone killed.

Abusive OAP

Oh yeah they do it as well.

The OAP’s around here can be very abusive. For those that dont know OAP is an Old Age Pensioner. Usually over the age of 65.

Now these OAP’s get a free bus pass for travel around the country (it used to be just for the West Midlands but that changed on April 1st) and with it there is a catch. They can only use it after 9:30am on weekdays. Now I dont have a problem with them getting on a little early. But one day this week I hit a major problem with one person. It was 9:15 now some of you may say thats ok..Nope I have already been warned by the Inspectors about it and told that even 5 mins early is pushing it. Remembering this i very politly said “sorry sir but i cant let you on with that pass until 9:30”

“What the f**k do you mean you cant let me on”

“Its too early. Its only 9:15”

“So F******* what. I want to get on.” at this point he was almost frothing at the mouth with rage. I can hear you saying so why not just let him on. Well I had already turned away several other OAP’s

“My watch says 9:30 im getting on this F****** bus whether you F****** like it or not you F****** fat F***” Ok now he’s stepped over the line. I can deal with people swearing at something but directing it at me is another matter

“I’m very sorry sir but company policy states that the OAP pass is only valid after 9:30am on weekdays so I’m afraid that you cannot travel. If you want to pay it will be £1.10”

“Im not paying that F***** much” stamps feet “F*** you” Ill wait for the next one.

“Thats your choice sir” At this point i shut the doors and pulled away and hit the radio button to inform the office of this chap as he was likely to be very very annoyed.

I was flagged down by the bus behind me and he said that he had met the chap and the abuse had continued at him so he left him behind. As it turns out he was passed by every bus on the road. Hmmmmm I wonder why.

Remember be nice to us or we will leave you behind.