Normally I’m a pretty tolerant kind of guy. Yes, even behind the wheel of a car. But, since I’ve become a local bus driver, I’ve become keenly aware of the things that can easily wind up a bus driver.
These devices are brilliant for helping people with limited mobility to get around. But when used incorrectly or inconsiderately they can cause mayhem. I met one recently in Totnes, being driven in the roadway by its owner. There was a pavement nearby (it wasn’t full of pedestrians or hazards) but the driver insisted on travelling in the road, much to my annoyance. Due to the narrowness of the road and oncoming traffic I was unable to overtake the scooter for some time. For the record, I didn’t ‘tailgate’ the scooter nor did I use my horn but I certainly wanted to!
I’ve been a cyclist myself but these days prefer to go out into the country and find a dedicated cycleway. But cyclists are entitled to use the road when it is safe to do so and some of them take this freedom to the n-th degree. A few weeks ago I tangled with one particular cyclist on the way from Paignton to Totnes while driving the Service 100 with a Bristol VR. While waiting at traffic lights a cyclist came up on my nearside, dressed in full kit. The lights changed and we both set off across the junction. I intended to pass him before the road ahead got narrow again but he powered away at such a rate that he was still beside my back wheels as the road got narrow. Oncoming traffic forced me towards the nearside and the bus came uncomfortably close to the cyclist. Why couldn’t he have eased off a bit? He could see that there wasn’t going to be enough room for the both of us! I think he was one of those to whom a bus is like a red rag to a bull. Due to further traffic lights and bus stops, we tangled with each other for another three miles and I lost a lot of time on that journey just hanging back waiting for an opportunity to pass the cyclist safely.
I encounter cyclists quite often as the route that I take is quite challenging for a cyclist and therefore attracts the keen ones in large numbers. Some days they are the scourge of my life!
There is usually enough time in my timetabled schedule to deal with a few delays. The journey from Paignton to Totnes, a distance of about 6 miles, should take about 20 minutes in a bus with a number of request stops en-route. But at certain times, Totnes becomes gridlocked. There is one roundabout and one junction where traffic grinds to a standstill on a regular basis and, as I have no option but to sit and wait, have to accept that long delays will occur. Sadly, passengers waiting at the other end are not always so patient.
I wrote before about a few pinch points on my route which require accurate positioning on the road in order to pass through without hitting anything. In my first week I regularly knocked the nearside rear-view mirror out of place by getting too close to a high hedgerow at Blagdon. This is made worse by the fact that the mirror on one Olympian in particular is not as tight as it could be and, even in the past couple of days, I have merely clipped a twig while passing large vehicles and the mirror has moved. Driving without a properly positioned mirror would be dangerous so, every time this happens, I have to pull in at the next safe place, hop out of the cab and re-position the mirror. I’m surprised that none of the other drivers have noted this on the defect sheet. Perhaps they’re all better than me and don’t hit the mirror.
There are of course other things that annoy me but don’t cause a delay. Including: low evening sunshine; drivers who don’t indicate; passengers who insist on talking to the driver while on the move; teenagers who ask for a child ticket when they’re plainly 16 or more… the list is endless.
It might appear that I’ve turned into a grumpy old git but on the whole I really enjoy this job. So much so that I may well be back again next season!