At long last my PCV practical training has begun. After several false starts, I’ve spent the last 2 days training to pass my PCV driving test.
The vehicle I’m using is a Bova FLC12.280, if that means anything to you. I’m not sure what engine it has but it’s more powerful than any heritage bus I’ve driven! More importantly, it’s 8′ 2″ wide and about 40′ long, quite a beast.
My test will be taken in Plymouth so all of my training will take place there. I met my instructor, a cheerful chap called Martin, at a small coach depot on the outskirts of Plymouth. It turns out that he passed his PSV test on exactly the same ex-Hants & Dorset Bristol Lodekka that I drove in Exeter all those years ago, with Devon General’s instructor Bill Porter too! What a small world.
I’m not training alone, there are two of us. David is also learning and is hoping to drive a community bus in the South Hams. He doesn’t have the advantage of having driven buses before, which I do. Even though I’ve only driven heritage buses (apart from my assessment sessions), those experiences have taught me a great deal and I’ve made good progress as a result.
Yesterday I went to Exeter for another driver assessment session, this time with Steve Robertson Training Services in Pinhoe. It very nearly didn’t happen though.
I arrived in good time and introduced myself. Unfortunately they didn’t have me down in their diary. Not only that but the coach instructor had just left after bringing a candidate back from their test. I got the chap in the office to check their emails and then they realised they’d made an error because my appointment had been confirmed some time ago. The instructor was hastily recalled and apologies were made.
After a short delay I met the instructor who was the boss of the company. I gave him a brief summary of my experience so far as we walked to the coach. Steve Robertson shares some facilities with Hookways Coaches, including one of their many coaches for training purposes. I was given a guided tour of the ‘cab’ before we set off out of town towards a quiet road where I would take over. I was very pleased to see that the coach had a normal 6-speed manual gearbox and didn’t feature a 2-speed rear axle. This was something that complicated matters for me the last time I had a driver assessment session – the coach we used then had 10 gears to play with!
So, after many months waiting for the call to go and have my PCV practical training and test in Somerset, I’ve decided to go it alone. Having found a suitable driving school closer to home, I’ve booked an assessment drive for 2 weeks time, which is exciting but potentially costly. I’m waiting to see how long the instructor thinks it will take me to get to test standard before I take the plunge and book the lessons. I might have to save a few more pennies!