A Conversation for Bus-Stop Logic

Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 1

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

I catch the bus every morning to work from Portsmouth to Fareham, down here on the south coast of England.

The road I catch the bus on has a long, fairly straight stretch (wander over to U30753 and click on the 'this place' link for a look; it's the long road that runs from top to bottom slightly to the right of centre running from 1-o'clock to 7-o'clock (ish)).

As such, I can see approaching buses as they stop in the centre of North End, a good three minutes or so before they hit my stop[1].

So, does this help me actually catch the bus? No. Morning syndrome sometimes takes over, and I realise that the bus is here as it shoots past. Of course, none of the other 20 or so folks at the stop happen to want that particular service, so nobody else tries to stop it, or they all assume that someone else is going to flag it down.


My unanswered public transport questions:

Why does there always have to be atleast one person with a particularly annoying personal stereo on the bus. I think there must be some european law which mandates this.

Why are the seats designed for two people who are presumably thinner than the pencil folk from the planet biro?


[1]Figure of speech. They buses don't crash into the stop itself. Atleast not often. A double-decker stagecoach bus once did take out the entire bus shelter during the last big freeze in 1995 (or 1996, or somewhen around then). I wasn't under it at the time, but I was worryingly close.

Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 2


On my journey to work every day, there is a long, long, straight length of road where the bus stops, and for that matter traffic lights, are very few and far between.

If I'm travelling off-peak, for instance doing an 11 - 7 rather than a 9 - 5, bus drivers (being only human) seem to rejoice in pushing the pedal to the metal on this stretch.

an odd thing starts happenong to a bus on this road at speeds of over forty-five. A long single-decker will begin to "switchback" like a fairground ride; if somebody drew a graph of the average traveller's movement along this stretch, it would show a sine curve with appreciable peaks and troughs.

I've never actually been sick yet, but I have felt queasy.

Has anyone else experienced this phenomena?

Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 3

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

> Has anyone else experienced this phenomena?

Not exactly as you describe.

One thing I have noticed is the tendency for drivers around here to forget the adverse camber on the road around the top of Paulsgrove leading around the one way system on Portsdown Hill down to the hospital. A road going straight down the hill crosses the route at one point, and drivers sometimes speed over that junction, resulting in flying passengers. If the government knew about this, I expect they would fix it.

What am I talking about? They'd probably charge us Airport departure tax...

As I generally travel during the rush hour, I don't think I've been on a bus doing 45mph recently.

Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 4


Flying passengers....

I've only once been on a bus where the driver was hauled to the roadside by the police and given a ticket for speeding (although this was in the days before speed cameras - twice now I've seen a bus driver set off a speed camera, which when you think about it is a little surreal).

It happened like this. In the immediate days after deregulation, a lot of cowboy bus companies set up using barely-trained drivers and vehicles which might have met locally applicable safety regulations in places like Bogota or Calcutta, but which wouldn't have stood close scrutiny in downtown Manchester. In fact,the H & S people did spot checks, eventually, and got rid of the worst cowboy operators, but that's another story.

Anyway, Hyde Road is a main arterial route into Manchester from the east, and while it can ocassionally be a bit slow at peak times, at eight in the evening it's plain sailing. Again the bus stops for a mile or two of its length are few and widely spaced, and it's a long straight road where you can see traffic lights coming from a long way ahead, so this driver for a company I shall call Custer and Hickock Coaches (Cowboy Operations)just put his foot down, as you do. I was one of three passengers on the bus, a big ex-London Transport double decker, and I quite liked the sensation of going a lot faster than usual.

(how did I know it was ex LT? Simple, I was pondering on why the poster on the inside said that if you have a problem with the service or the operator, contact your local regulator at Tooting Bec, which seemed a bit out of area for Manchester. I guessed it had been sold on, hastily resprayed, but nothing had been done about the internal signage)

Anyway, sirens sounded and lights flashed, and a police car pulled alongside, its occupant performing the usual hand gestures that say "Pull over now, if you will, sir".

The following discussion between copper and bus driver was short and painful and revolved around the legal ramifications and general inadvisability of doing fifty-nine miles an hour in a built-up area.

Damn - I did quite like that journey!

Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 5

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

The story in Portsmouth is similar, although not nearly as drastic.

There were originally two bus companies. Southdown (part of the National Bus Company) and the corporation buses (aka Portsmouth City Transport) run by the council, still operated out of Eastney bus station, which had previously been the Eastney Tram Depot. (hitory here: http://www.busandcoachenthusiast.co.uk/fleethistories/portsmouth1.htm )

Strangely, most of the routes have changed little since the 1900's. The route from Cosham to Cowplain is still followed by the No.41 service, and the victorian bus shelter in Cosham where the trams turned around has only recently been demolished (after decades of vandalism) but the support posts for the tram power lines are still there.

Anyway, back to the plot.

Following some de- (or re-) regulation, PCT were sold to Southampton (football team rivalries aside) and the Southdown operation became part of Stagecoach. After a while, a small startup using really nasty, small, boneshaker minibuses arrived, known as Red Admiral (and Blue Admiral on some routes for some inadequately explored reason) arrived on the scene, went bust, and got bought by Southampton City Bus, which never quite recovered from that, and went bust themselves. Eventually, stagecoach bought the whole lot, and the passengers were happy, because you could buy one ticket and get on any bus.

However, the monopolies and mergers commision were not happy, and split the operation, which crippled it. Stagecoach tool the routes heading east (towards Havant), and a small independant company ran with what was left for a while, until People's Provincial, up until then a small staff-owned outfit, took over the whole operation, ran for a couple of years, and then sold it on to FirstGroup, which is where we are today.

People's Provincial (so called, because the staff owned the business themselves) have now disappeared, but all of the shareholders got extremely rich.

Most of PP's stock was old single-decker british-leyland national buses, many of which were obviously ex-LRT stock (Having grown up in Twickenham, they ran my local routes there while I was at school). Some are still in service today, but atleast the old boneshaker minibuses have disappeared.

One thing I have noticed, although I'm not sure if it's a national thing, is that FirstGroup are very hot on safety and driving standards; All drivers have day-glo jackets, and have to do everything by the book. Perhaps it's a legal requirement though. It's certainly changed very markedly from four years ago.


Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 6

Nick Roberts

I reckon 45 metres per hour sounds about right for the Hangar lane at 'rush' hour.

Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 7


Is that the renowned Hanger Lane Gyratory System that even now is still a permanent resident on BBC travel bullletins? (Although in recent years it's been overtaken by the M25 as Number One Trouble Hot-Spot).

You have our deepest sympathies.

Although when you're listening to Drivetime on Radio Two, and the sweet Sally Traffic is reading out where the nation is having woe on its roads, the phrase "Hanger Lane Gyratory System" is one for the non-Londoner to conjure with. I think it's the "gyratory" bit that does it for us, as the dictionary definition of "gyratory" is something like "going round and round in circles while staying in the same place".

We just have the Stockport Pyramid to bemuse the rest of the nation with! (M60 Junction One)

Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 8


Reply to caveman:- As a firstgroup driver we have to wear these dayglo coats because we are too stupid to manage to walk from A to B, however we are skilled enough to drive 70 children to school along single tracks in all weathers, go figuresmiley - sadface Oh well there must be some reason we are treated like children.smiley - blue

Great view, but mornings tend to take over

Post 9

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

I see your employer treats you in a similar way to a number of other employers I could mention. I assume they are scared silly of potential lawsuits if they dont follow some pointless regulation (like issuing schoolchildren playing conkers with safety goggles smiley - yawn!

Of course, when it comes to something that would actually be useful, or in the genuine interests of driver safety (like some means to prevent robberies at night, working radios, or so forth), the regulations (and budget) are mysteriously absent.

I don't envy your job; I'd find it so difficult not to kick off every single obnoxious **** of a child, but as I understand it, you can't do that, even if they try and trash the bus, or even start a fight which injures other passengers, as to do so apparently endangers their safety and violates your 'duty of care' or some other nanny-state speak. Had I behaved that way, even in London, I'd have been grabbed and chucked off the bus at the first opertunity, and even expected it (not that anyone did, of course).

Problem is, the generation that grew up knowing that they can throw a tantrum or pick fights and get away with it are now at an age where they can so some serious damage, and then attack you for attempting to defend yourself, others, or company property, because they know that they can get legal aid.

Anyway, I'm ranting, so I'll shut up now.

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