Bus crew style dust jackets

I know some of you are still waiting for news of the long-awaited replica Tilling dust jackets. Thanks for being patient – it will be worth the wait. But for those who are keen to have a look-alike jacket ready for the 2015 season, there is an alternative.

JK37-Yarmo-summer-dust-jacket

This is a bus-style jacket produced by Yarmouth Stores, a workwear manufacturer on the east coast of England. They’ve been making these for several years now and they look quite convincing if you regularly play the part of a traditional bus driver or bus conductor. In fact I used to wear one of these before I found an original one online. I’m wearing a Yarmo jacket in the photo below, which was taken by Cherry Selby, a lovely lady conductor who took me under her wing when I first started conducting.

Yarmouth-Stores-jacketSold under the ‘Yarmo‘ brand, the Summer Bus Jackets (ref JK37) are available in most sizes with a choice of green or maroon trim. When their new website goes live you will be able to purchase these online but, until then, call Yarmouth Stores on 0800 1300521 and ask for Sharon, the Sales Manager. The price is a very reasonable £31.95 plus £3.50 for delivery. If you ask nicely and mention ‘Busman’s Holiday’ you might even get a small discount!

If you have your own collection of bus uniform buttons you can use them with these jackets because the black plastic buttons provided are removable and have a split-ring fastening just like the originals.

I ought to point out that these jackets are made to a freelance pattern and the fabric is polyester, rather than the cotton twill that the originals were made from.

If you are interested in uniform trousers as well – complete with coloured piping down the legs, these are available from Yarmo as well. Like the jackets, these are made from polyester fabric and come in most sizes. You can choose from yellow, red or green piping. I wear a pair of these in the summer as they are much lighter and more comfortable than the original woollen serge trousers.

In other news, it’s nearly time to blow the cobwebs off the 1947 PD2 bus in readiness for the 2015 sightseeing season and I have my first Crosville private hire duty of the year in about 10 days’ time.

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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.

Bus driver theory test passed!

One down, four to go – today I passed my PCV Driver Theory Test. This was the multiple choice question module, which I took at the test centre in Torquay.

After scoring 48 out of 50 in the second online practice test I was fairly confident that I’d pass but I’d revised frantically anyway. I was nervous as I walked down into town in the rain, rehearsing in my head some of the questions that were likely to cause me trouble. These would be the ones involving numbers; EU driving hours, weights, distances and so on. I kept reassuring myself “It’ll be OK. After all, it’s not rocket science, is it?”

As I stood in the waiting area there was a young woman at the desk in a bit of a state. She’d turned up to re-take her theory test but had forgotten to bring the paper counterpart of her driver’s licence. The man behind the desk was adamant that she couldn’t take the test without both parts and she was adamant that she hadn’t needed to show it the first time. He was right of course so, while she phoned a friend, I got myself booked in. The woman was just telling her friend that she’d have to cancel the booking (and forfeit the fee) when Mr Jobsworth turned into Mr Second Chance and told the lady that, if she could be back within 15 minutes with her licence, she could still take the test.

By this time I’d been signed in and had stowed my coat, phone and umbrella in a locker and was ready to take the test. The small room was divided into about 10 workstations with touch screens and I was allocated number 4. There was a brief on-screen introduction to the test, most of which I’d seen before in the online practice tests. I ran through it anyway. I cleaned my glasses, blew my nose, said a little prayer, took a deep breath and hit the ‘go’ button.

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Practice Theory Test

With the date of my bus driver  Theory Test drawing closer, I thought I’d take the simulated Hazard Perception Test that’s provided on the DSA training DVD. Having watched the tutorial part of the programme earlier I went through the simulated test today. This is a series of clips recorded out on the roads, showing different real life hazards, both in the country and in town.

I thought it would be quite easy, having been a car driver for more than 30 years. I always try to be careful and observant on the road but I was disappointed to only score 1 out of 5 in the first section. What could have gone wrong?

I dutifully clicked my mouse when a hazard presented itself but, when I only scored 2 out of 5 in the next section I realised that I wasn’t identifying the potential hazards early enough. After each section the clip is re-run with a commentary to identify where all the hazards were. I soon found out that, not only was I late in clicking, I was missing simple things like a muddy road surface and warning signs beside the road.

After changing the timing and frequency of my mouse clicks, my scoring gradually improved until finally scoring 5 out of 5 on the penultimate clip.

Suitably pleased with my score, I moved on to the second practice Theory Test.

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Bus driver theory test booked

Hazard Preception Test revision

This evening I booked my bus driver Theory Test. That’s only three weeks away – gulp!

I’ve been revising from the official Driving Standards Agency (DSA) text books for drivers of large vehicles and earlier this evening ran through one of the practice theory tests provided by the DSA on their website. The actual test will consist of 100 multiple choice questions but the online practice test has 50 sample questions. I scored 47 out of 50 which was quite encouraging!

To be honest, most of the questions are common sense and all but the most irresponsible driver would score quite well without any revision. Previous experience as a conductor helped a lot because that has given me an awareness of what a driver of a large vehicle has to face.

I’ve also had a run through the DSA Hazard Perception training DVD (see photograph above) because that test has to be taken at the same time as the theory test. There’s also a simulated test session on the DVD which I’ll tackle next.

Just to explain, the young lady on the steps of the coach on the screen is the public face of the DSA training DVD!