PCV bus driving practical test passed

Finally. After many delays, false starts and one failure, I am the proud owner of a PCV Practical Driving Test Pass Certificate.

If you’re on the top of your game in the world of Showjumping, you can do a ‘clear round’ if you and your horse go round the course without picking up any faults. Well, I’m not that good. I passed my practical test but picked up a handful of driving faults on the way round. None of them merited any comment from the examiner afterwards so they were all minor.

The test route included town driving (through Exeter city centre), country lanes and motorway. There was also a 10 minute period of independent driving, when I was told to follow signs for a certain destination and then left to my own devices. It was such a huge relief to arrive back at the Test Centre and be told that I’d passed. It’s been such a long time since I passed my theory modules that my Theory Pass Certificate was due to expire at the end of the week! So here’s a blow by blow account of my training and test, including the one I failed last week:

Training Day 1. My second attempt at gaining my PCV driver’s licence began with a 2-hour session in Exeter on a cold, bright day 2 weeks ago. This time I did a 3-day course with Carmel Coaches, whose Exeter depot just happens to be right across the road from the Test Centre. Very handy!

I was the only one doing the course (last time there were two of us) but I think on balance that I was happier with a smaller audience! The vehicle we used is much easier to handle than the coach I had last May. They hired a 12-metre coach from Tally Ho! Coaches near Plymouth then, which seemed absolutely huge! I did master it eventually, of course, but the Carmel training bus is only 10 metres long and feels much less bulky.

The Dennis Javelin bus (N205OAE) was originally supplied to the Royal Navy in 1994 and for some reason is very low geared. There are 6 forward gears but I’ve never used 1st. Even starting away in 2nd feels like 1st did on the other coach! In 6th gear with my foot to the floor we just about managed to get 62mph out of it.

To begin with Tony (my instructor) drove out to the A30 towards Okehampton and parked in a layby, where I took over. He was understandably wary of me driving out of the depot and all through the Marsh Barton industrial estate without some idea of my driving skills but I was glad to be able to get acquainted with the old Dennis Javelin on a relatively straight and quiet piece of road. I was pleased to go up through the box to 6th gear without any glitches although I was to miss a few downchanges later on!

Bizarrely, this bus seemed to like being driven as if it had a crash box. In other words, the gears went in nice and smoothly when a suitable pause had been taken to allow the engine revs to drop when changing up. After I’d been advised to slow right down on the brakes before changing down I decided to vary that technique by doing a proper double de-clutch change (revving the engine between gears) and found it even easier.

We trundled out as far as Tedburn St Mary on the west side of Exeter and out the other side as far as Rockbeare to the east, before returning to Marsh Barton via the bypass. This session served the dual purpose of allowing me to become familiar with driving the vehicle and also allowed Tony to assess my skills so that he could focus on certain areas which needed improvement in the following sessions. I was reasonably happy with my progress but I think I realised that the pace would quicken the next day!

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2010 in review

Best wishes to all my readers for 2011!

I hope you all had a marvellous Christmas and New Year holiday. Mine was busy, with a fair amount of travelling, lots of good food, many family members to catch up with, lots of gifts to share and all this with Jesus Christ at the centre.

Mercifully, we were relatively unaffected by the snow and ice that caused chaos in other parts of the country. In fact, Torbay only had about 2 inches of snow and we only suffered travelling difficulties on one day.

So, what will 2011 hold? Will the higher VAT rate and rising fuel costs affect heritage bus operations? They will certainly affect private bus-owning individuals who may cut back on the number of events they attend. Numbers of people attending events around the country may also be adversely affected. As I write, the well-known Friends of King Alfred Buses (FoKAB) running day in Winchester should be in full swing but will it be the last in the current format? There are plans to develop the centre of Winchester which include pedestrian areas and the demolition of the bus station, both of which will affect the future operation of the running day.

My plans for 2011 include passing my PCV Practical Test before May, so that I can begin driving heritage buses during the summer season. Regular readers will remember that I have already passed my PCV Theory Test and CPC Case Studies modules, with only the practical test and practical demonstration left to do. I will of course post news of my progress.

I look forward to meeting some of you again at various events during the year, or on the Service 400 “Exmoor Explorer”. Keep checking back for updates or sign up for email notifications or RSS feeds.

Here’s a summary of my blog’s performance during last year. All the activity shown below helps with my online visibility and ratings in Google searches. I’m happy to say that it’s done pretty well for a blog with fairly sporadic posts!

Many thanks to you all.

John.

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meterâ„¢ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 50 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 58 posts. There were 54 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was April 27th with 61 views. The most popular post that day was Drive It Day in Exeter.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were quantockmotorservices.co.uk, bobbrimley.fotopic.net, skylineaviation.co.uk, mail.live.com, and wsr.org.uk.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for psv badges, cpc case study questions, cpc case study test, hold tight please, and cpc case study.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Drive It Day in Exeter April 2010

2

Driver CPC Case Study Test passed March 2010
2 comments

3

Obsolete badges November 2009
2 comments

4

A Day in the Life of a Bus Conductor November 2009
7 comments

5

Bus Conductor’s Winter Uniform March 2010
4 comments

PCV Theory Test certificate

In today’s post I received my PCV Large Vehicle Theory Test Pass Certificate which confirms that I can go ahead and book my Practical Driving Test. The pass is valid for two years but somehow I don’t think it will be anywhere near that long before I take my practical test!

To drive professionally, which I may want to do later this year, I will also need to take my Driver CPC Case Studies Theory Test. This is based on information I’ve already learned while preparing for the 2-part test that I’ve just passed. It presents a series of theory questions based around a fictitional scenario, or Case Study. I suppose it’s designed to check that I understand how I would put the theory into practice, without actually doing it.

Anyway, I booked that module today and I’m due to take it in a couple of weeks time.

Hazard Perception Test passed

Another step closer – I passed the Hazard Perception part of my PCV Driver Theory test today.

Following the advice of several people who have taken the test recently, I tried to perfect the technique of clicking the mouse at the right time to score highly. The practice DVD from the Driving Standards Agency was a great help and I watched the introduction to the test today twice, just to be sure of my strategy.

There were 19 separate video clips, each filmed from the roof of a van (I saw it reflected in a back window once!). They showed a variety of scenes, some in town, some on country roads and one on a motorway. Each contained several potential hazards plus one that developed into a situation where the driver needed to take avoiding action. One clip had two fully developed hazards.

Highest points were scored when I recognised potential hazards early and clicked again if they developed. There were 100 points to be gained, the pass mark is 67 and I scored 75. Not flying colours exactly, but comfortable.

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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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