Monthly Archives: August 2007

Split second decisions

I hate making them. I reversed the 13:40 Megabus off the stand in Brighton today exactly on time and then proceeded through Brighton, while I was waiting at a set of traffic lights I heard a tap on my window, glanced right and there was a guy holding up a ticket for the journey I’m driving and asking to be let on. The lights are just before an ‘S’ bend, it’s one way with two busy lanes and double yellows lines both sides of the road! Normally I’d point to some place up the road and indicate the intending passenger to get there and I’d stop, this was just not possible where I was. I glanced down to see if he had anything like a huge suitcase but all he had was a carrier bag in his hand. OK, I made the split second decision to let him on at the lights even though this is totally verboten! Opened the door, he jumped on, the lights go green and I’m off. Then as he passes me I know I’ve a terrible decision, he smells of drink and the carrier bag is full of cans of super strength lager! As he passes me my left hand shoots out and takes hold of the carrier bag “Sorry mate, no alcohol on the bus”. “That’s my lunch” was the reply. I tell him to sit down and then shove the cans of beer under my seat and wonder what I’ve done. The first thought which goes through my mind is ‘What if I have an accident? The Police will find me surrounded by cans of beer some of which may have burst and sprayed all over me”! Later, on the outskirts of Brighton, I pull over and put his ‘lunch’ into the hold. At least the passenger wasn’t any trouble and slept all the way to London.

Megabus booking references

However you book your Megabus seat you will receive a booking reference. It may be e-mailed to you, it may also be sent by text to your mobile if you requested this (10p charge) or, in the case of a telephone booking, read out to you. Before they left the depot the Megabus driver will have been given loading sheets, one for each journey they’re going to drive during their shift. The loading sheets list all the valid booking references for each journey. The loading sheets are updated immediately before each journey by the driver who calls Megabus control for any additional booking references. As passengers board they present their booking reference which is then checked against the loading sheet. A typical megabus booking reference looks like this:-

15-9584-300807-M2-0600-BOU-LON

15- indicates that this was the 15th seat to be booked and is for one passenger. If the booking had been for 2 passegers it would read 15/16-, 3 passengers would read 15/17- and so on.

9584- is a unique computer generated number.

When a passenger presents their booking reference the bus driver looks down the loading sheet for 15- (the list is in numeric order) and checks that the unique number on the loading sheet is the same as the unique number in the booking reference being presented by the passenger. A match … bingo! “Welcome aboard. Enjoy your trip”. No match? That’s where the additional detail in the booking reference comes into play and should identify the problem.

300807- the booked journey date. If it’s not 30th August 2007 today the passenger has come on the wrong day!

M2- the route number.

0600- departure time. They are trying to board an earlier, or later bus.

BOU-LON going from Bournemouth to London. This is not a valid reference for travel from London to Bournemouth or anywhere other than Bournemouth to London!

Give me the moonlight

This morning I did the earliest start on our rota, 04:50. Since June the days
have been getting shorter and now 04:50 is truly night time again. The first
part of the duty is driving ‘Not in Service’ to Bournemouth and as soon as I got
onto the M27, driving westwards, one of the compensations for an early start
manifested itself; a beautiful full moon right in front of me. As I crossed the
water meadows either side of the River Test the moon lit the mist which hung
only a few feet deep above the meadows. My route then crosses the New
Forest which isn’t all forest as the name suggests, much of it is open heath
including a large section of my journey, and here the moon lit the landscape in
a beautiful way, everything being discernible but in monochrome like an old
photograph. The moon was so bright that the headlights didn’t intrude enough
to destroy the beauty of the moonlight.

By the time of the return across the New Forest, shortly after 06:30, the sun
was up but the mist had risen and was taking the brightness out the sun. I
was able to look directly at the perfectly round red sun; it appeared to be the
same size as the moon I’d been looking at earlier. The light was now enough
to bring the colour back into the landscape which was predominantly the
purple of the heather. After the heathland there is some grassland and there
the deer were feeding on dew soaked grass.

Early starts aren’t always bad :-)

The Megabus FAQ

Well, I’ve done it and the link to it will stay in it’s current position. If your question isn’t covered by the FAQ you can email me at faq@loades.net with your question and I’ll do my best to answer it. If something is asked often enough it will be added to the FAQ, as will any appropriate suggestions for additional questions.

Subway

Today’s duty was 193 …. the one I rant about everytime I have to do it. But today is an exception, I’m going to rant about Subway instead :-)

I’ve never ever had a Subway before today. But, seeing as I had to get up at 03:30 to do the MegaBus part of the duty before the Park and Ride I was getting pretty hungry by 10:00am. Whatever I got to eat had to be bought quickly, near to a bus stop, and would be eaten during the 5 minute break between each Park and Ride loop. The Subway located here fitted the bill. They were advertising a Breakfast Sub with bacon, sausage and egg, all made fresh this morning. “Hum” I thought “that sounds good” and ordered one. What a let down! How to make such simple ingredients taste so bad takes real skill, and believe me these guys had skill. I’ll start with the sub itself, as I said fresh baked today. It must have been fresh ‘baked’ in a pressure cooker; very soft and soggy with no discernable taste or aroma. I wonder if it used wheat flour, I couldn’t smell wheat. I guess the sausage was the circular disc of MDF in the Sub. Finding that my teeth couldn’t actually bite through something I took it out and looked at it. Yes, it may once have been sausagemeat but now it was nearly black and as solid as a bit of wood. I couldn’t bite it to taste it and sucking it produced no flavour – this was thrown away. Now to the egg, how difficult and time consuming is it to break an egg into a pan and stir it up and cook as an omlette? Take 1 or 2 minutes? In Subway they’re already cooked and deep frozen so they are put into the microwave to defrost and reheat. Takes about the same time as cooking fresh but tastes 0 out of 10. The bacon was OK!! Thin and smokey, I’d guess that it’s Oscar Meyer American bacon.

Despite the bacon being OK I’ll not be buying a Subway …. ever again.

MegaBus FAQ

I’ve got what I believe to be a very good stats addon to this website, in that I’m able to see the search terms visitors use and then end up reading a page from this website. For example, today visitors have arrived after searching for how+do+i+reserve+tickets+for+a+bus+from+my+mobile, megaus+booking+problem, megabus+newport, bus+times+brighton+to+london, megabus+stand+for+brighton+coach+at+victoria, megabus+headoffice and megabus+stop+birmingham. It would be best if they’d ended up at megabus.com and seen their question answered there but they seem to get to the blog first. In a way some of the questions people frequently want to ask are a bit buried in the megabus.com website, often in the Terms and Conditions page which isn’t exactly light reading.

So my idea is to host an unofficial MegaBus FAQ here – unofficial in that it wont be MegaBus approved and unofficial in the sense that the answers will be those the enquirer is likely to receive from a driver rather than someone reading the Terms and Conditions out loud! For example on the question of ‘How much luggage can I take?’ my answer will be to quote the T & C’s “Passengers are advised that megabus.com will accept only one piece of luggage per passenger weighing no more than 20kg and no larger than the size of a standard suitcase. Passengers can also take on board one piece of hand luggage up to the size of a small to medium sized hold-all”. That’s it, when ‘push comes to shove’ you’ve no more rights than that. However, I’d point out if a driver is asked nicely and it’s not demanded as a right, the driver may well allow a little more if there is space. Plus, if the one case weighs more than 20Kgs the passenger should offer to load and unload it! The passenger may be allowed two bags, may be allowed one bag over 20Kg but it’s only because the driver is being helpful.

Here are just a few of the questions I first thought of:-

Are there really tickets for £1.00?
Where are the stops?
What if I miss the bus?
Can I catch an earlier bus?
Can I change the ticket, or cancel and get my money back?
How much luggage can I take Bikes, Chellos, frozen food etc.?
My luggage is valuable/fragile etc and I don’t want it stored in the hold?
Are child fares available?
What if the bus is late and I miss my plane/train/dinner/wedding etc.?
Will there be a toilet on the bus?
Can I bring food and drink onto the bus to have during the journey?
Can I sit on my own and not next to a stranger?
Can I book a window or aisle seat?
What should I do if I think the driver was rude and drove badly?
What should I do if I think the driver was polite and drove very well?

You’ll also notice that some aren’t even addressed on the megabus.com website. For example when passengers don’t want their expensive/fragile luggage in the hold – buy two tickets so your precious trumpet can sit on the seat next to you :-) At a pound a seat (if you’re quick enough it’s hardly expensive).

I really need suggestions for more questions. Thanks.