Bus conductors’ Rule Book

While posting comments in a Bristol Lodekka-related Facebook group I mentioned a Bus Conductors’ Rule Book that I wrote several years ago and a few people have asked if they can have a copy. It is for their benefit that this is posted here.

Conductors-Rule-Book

This was written by me in 2009 specifically for Quantock Motor Services and with their Service 400 ‘Exmoor Explorer’ in mind. The Rule Book is based on traditional practice but is obviously tailored towards the needs of QMS at that time. Rule Books from other heritage operators (and indeed the major operators in years gone by) will have been significantly different.

A PDF copy of the Conductors’ Rule Book may be downloaded here.

The Railway Connection

Many of you will have followed my driving adventures since I was a lowly conductor and will know that the subject of railways has cropped up more than once. In fact it’s curious how often the buses I’ve conducted on – or have driven – have crossed paths with trains of one sort or another. Naturally, those hauled by steam locomotives grab my attention more than any others!

Nunney-Castle-&-FFY403

This was the scene a couple of weeks ago when the Sightseeing Tours bus was parked at Preston Sands halfway through the afternoon tour. The coastal road passes over the railway line by Hollicombe Beach and I’d spotted a plume of steam rising from the stationary loco as it waited for a path into Paignton station. Fortunately I had plenty of time to position myself for a photo before the train passed by. The loco was GWR 4-6-0 No 5029 ‘Nunney Castle’ which was hauling the Cathedrals Express into Paignton from Westbury.

king-&-standard-tank

Several years ago I was a conductor for Quantock Motor Services (sadly no longer trading) which had its depot right next to Bishop’s Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway. I was able to see, hear and smell many steam-hauled trains while preparing buses.

Quantock used to provide a fleet of buses for a Christmas Park and Ride service into Taunton town centre and it was while conducting on one of these services that the bus I was on passed over the new Silk Mills bridge just as Gresley Pacific ‘Sir Nigel Gresley‘ passed directly underneath!

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Ex-London Transport AEC RT on Guernsey

Looking back in my family archives I came across this photo of ex-London Transport AEC Regent III, RT 1377 when operating with Guernseybus in the 1990s.

AEC-RT-on-Guernsey

The bus has been on the island of Malta since 2008 and the BusWeb site carries this snippet of information about it: “Originally London Transport RT1377 (KXW 476), this AEC Regent III operated for many years as an open-topper on the island of Guernsey, first with Guernseybus and then with Island FM as a publicity vehicle. It arrived on Malta in 2008 and is pictured in March 2009 in as acquired condition. The intention was to use it on sightseeing tours, but it never entered service and is now with the Malta Historic Vehicle Trust.

KFM893-MatthewThe young chap in the driver’s seat in the photo above is my eldest son, who shares my interest in historic transport. He’s grown up with his own family now but last year sampled the cab of a Crosville Bristol L5G when I passed through his neck of the woods last year.

Peter-in-RT-cab

What is it about Dads? We feel constrained to put our young children in the driver’s seat of any old bus we come across! I did the same with the old RT on Guernsey. In the back of my mind I was trying to re-create the photo my Dad took of me in the cab of a Lodekka when I was about 4. How could I turn down the opportunity to do the same?!
So here’s young son Peter in the cab of RT1377.

Peter-in-uniform

If you have been following this blog for some time you will have seen evidence that Peter joins me sometimes as bus conductor. I’m delighted that, although he never saw half-cab buses in service, he’s developed an affinity for the old days and is more than happy to don a Tilling uniform and run the platform on special occasions.

Bus driver and conductor vacancies at Crosville

There are some seasonal heritage crew jobs being advertised at the moment by Crosville Motor Services. They need to recruit additional drivers for their private hire bookings which, if you are a regular reader of this blog, is the main reason for my own involvement with this firm.

As you know I drive for them occasionally and, if last year is anything to go by, there were heritage buses going out virtually every Saturday from March until December. On several summer Saturdays there were four out at a time!

Crosville-Driver---Conductor-advert

If you are a driver with a clean Category D PCV licence and current Driver CPC entitlement, call Crosville on 01934 635259 or email contact@crosvillemotorservices.co.uk. If you have an interest in older vehicles that would be great. If you are experienced with a crash gearbox be careful – they might bite your hand off! If you’re not, don’t worry as training may be given to suitable candidates.

They are looking for conductors as well, mainly for private hire jobs (weddings mostly) but also for timetabled services in the tourist season. They often use Bristol Lodekkas on a couple of their routes around W-S-M so conductors will need to be able to take fares as well as run the platform. Just like the old days, really! Ticket machines will be provided but if you have your own Setright, even better. Conductors weren’t used very much on wedding duties last year but they are likely to be needed more often this year because they will be included (or offered, at least) as part of the wedding ‘package’ by Crosville.

The work is not difficult if you know what you’re doing and it’s great fun too. If you’re like me, it’s like being paid to enjoy your hobby! Form an orderly queue, please.

2012 – a busy year up at the noisy end

2012 was a momentous year. I managed to pass my PCV bus driving test by the skin of my teeth and followed that with 25 vintage bus driving duties!

KFM767-Clifton-CollegeBut one of my first jobs of 2012 was to promote the Crosville heritage bus fleet at a couple of Wedding Fairs. These were worth doing and many of the bookings I drove for later in the year started out as enquiries at these fairs. For one of these fairs I was invited to drive a Bristol Lodekka. This was before I’d taken my test but, as the bus was empty and not in service, my car licence sufficed. However, slightly soft front tyres and my general unfitness saw to it that I really struggled with the heavy steering, even with no load! I’ve since discovered that, even with properly inflated tyres, that bus is heavier to steer at low speed than some others.

With the fairs out of the way my focus turned to passing my practical test. For various reasons, much time had passed since I’d passed the Theory, Hazard Perception and Case Studies components of my PCV driving test. I had used up my allotted holiday allowance in my day job so I had to wait until new year 2012 to book a week off in February for training and the test. The test date happened to be Valentines Day but, as you will remember if you were following my progress back then, the lunch I had with my wife that day turned into a very sombre affair because I failed the test.

I very nearly gave up altogether, so crushing was the feeling of defeat. However, due to encouragement from several blog readers and family members, I booked more training sessions and a new test with just a few days of entitlement left. I had two years after passing my Theory Test in which to pass my Practical Test and most of that time had been spent waiting in vain for training with Quantock. I eventually passed my Practical Test within a few days of the end of February, which is when my time would run out.

Practical-test-pass

My feelings of elation and relief knew no bounds when I eventually found myself holding that coveted blue certificate! I went on to pass the PCV Practical Demonstration test and soon received my Driver CPC card in the post which entitled me to drive professionally at last.

I wondered how soon it would be before I would find an opportunity to drive a heritage bus in service. I passed the news of my test pass to the folks at Crosville Motor Services and awaited developments. I already had a conducting date in my diary for the week after my test so I was both pleased and daunted to see that, when my Job Ticket arrived, it showed that I was the driver! The management were kind enough to provide me with a conductor for this, my first driving turn with them. It wasn’t strictly necessary as the bus had driver-operated doors and the customer hadn’t paid for a conductor. I was very glad of the support and, even though the conductor was younger than my youngest son, he knew his job very well and everything went like clockwork.

Many more driving turns followed. 25 of them, to be exact! I often had to pinch myself to check that I wasn’t dreaming. I had pursued this ambition to drive a vintage bus since I was a young boy but never in a million years thought that I would have the opportunity to learn to drive a bus, let alone drive Bristol Lodekkas (and other Bristol marques) in service. I spent many hours as a youngster standing (and then kneeling, as I grew taller) on the bench seat watching the drivers of Wilts & Dorset Lodekkas at work in the cab. I was fascinated by the skills and techniques involved in handling a crash gearbox. I’m convinced that those childhood experiences helped me enormously when I eventually came to occupy that cab seat myself and take charge of a Bristol Lodekka. The fact that so many of them survive is remarkable in itself but the fact that I’m able to drive them in the 21st century is truly amazing.

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Exeter Twilight Run: back to the platform

It was a good opportunity to dust off my Setright Speed ticket machine and reacquaint myself with the duties of a bus conductor. Yes, dear reader, I was relegated to the back end of a bus last weekend. I’d had my name down to take part in the Exeter Twilight Running Day for some time, expecting to drive one of the Exeter Corporation Leylands. The bus in question, a PD2 of 1956 vintage, has been undergoing some restoration work and a repaint this year and wasn’t ready in time.

My friends at Crosville Motor Services brought Hants & Dorset Bristol FLF 1220 (DEL893C) down from Weston-super-Mare for the event and I offered to be conductor for them. The driver was my old colleague from Quantock days, Stuart Andrews. He and I worked together on the Service 400 ‘Exmoor Explorer’ and I was happy to note that he remains one of the most skilful heritage bus drivers I ever had the privilege to ride with.

This event now runs in the afternoon as well as after dark so the first free service departed from Exeter’s Bus Station at 15:15. For the rest of the afternoon and evening there was a constant stream of heritage buses coming into and out of the bus station. This shot shows a City of Exeter Guy Arab V, a Bristol LL6B coach and the H&D Bristol FLF mentioned earlier.

I think there were about 10 different vehicles operating the various routes and destinations included Redhills, Pennsylvania, Broadclyst, Crossmead and the Quay. Our first duty was the 15:40 to Crossmead, which took us along Exeter’s High Street, over the River Exe and up Dunsford Hill to a turning point near the Crossmead estate. Unfortunately a couple of cars had parked in the turning circle so Stuart had to reverse into a nearby side turning before returning to the bus station.

Also present were these two historic Leylands. The yellow Bournemouth Corporation bus carries the same MCW bodywork as some of the many trolleybuses for which Bournemouth was famous. Many ex-Bournemouth buses and trolleybuses have taken refuge at the West of England Transport Collection at Winkleigh, following the dispersal of a private collection in Bournemouth.

The green-liveried 1947 Exeter Corporation Leyland Titan PD2 has returned to service after many years off the road and is looking superb. As you can imagine, it was very popular!

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Wanted: Tilling uniforms and Setright machines

The folks at Crosville like to present their heritage buses in tip top condition, whether they’re in service on a timetabled route in Weston-super-Mare or further afield on a wedding duty. Whenever I turn up, my allocated bus has always been washed and swept. It is usually decorated with ribbons too, if it is a wedding duty.

But the icing on the cake, as it were, when on duty with a heritage bus is if the crew is able to wear a proper uniform from the period when the bus was originally in service.

In my case, I’m already sorted and so is my son Peter if he is conducting with me. But few of the other crews at Crosville have genuine ‘Tilling group’ uniforms, either summer dust jackets like the one Peter is modelling above, or a full winter uniform. Just occasionally a suitable dust jacket comes up on Ebay but they are few and far between. If you are reading this and have a jacket, cap, Setright ticket machine or cash bag you would like to donate/sell to a Crosville crew, please let me know! Setright machines need to be decimal, issue tickets up to the value of at least £9.99 and have a ‘concessions’ setting or a similar means of counting a particular class of ticket being issued.

If you can help, please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch with you. Thank you!