Monthly Archives: May 2010

A new look

Having moved the blog to a superb new hosting company and updated the software (WordPress) to the latest version, I thought I’d try and give it a newer, fresher look. Comments on the new look versus the old would be appreciated.

Sam Fardon fabricated the story – official.

Sam Fardon has the dubious honour of being confirmed as the new Amy Wootten.

In the case of Amy Wootten she at least had the decency (after damning video evidence disproving her claim) to apologise to both FirstBus and their driver. I wait with bated breath for Sam Fardon’s apology.

The following FirstGroup statement can be found here.

“England Shirt Issue Statement”

“Following an alleged incident involving our service and the refusal of a young passenger wearing an England shirt, the following statement has been issued to the media. Paul De Santis, Commercial Director for First said: “The claim made about one of our drivers’ behaviour is a very serious one and we have been in touch with this woman several times to try to establish what actually happened.”

“We have carried out a full investigation and can’t find any evidence to substantiate this claim. No driver fitting the description given was working on any routes in this area at that time. Our buses were busy around the time yet no one else has been in touch with us about this alleged incident.”

“We expect the highest level of professionalism from our drivers and such an act would not be tolerated. However, in this instance it now appears that no such incident took place.”

“Far from banning England shirts on our buses First is fully supportive of England’s World Cup campaign and we are, in fact, currently fitting good luck banners featuring England flags on all our buses in England.”

Is Sam Fardon the new Amy Wootten?

Remember Amy Wootten who fabricated a story about a FirstBus driver throwing her of a bus for breast feeding? CCTV recordings from the bus showed that her whole story had been in her mind only.

Now we have Sam Fardon telling the world “A toddler was ordered off a bus because the foreign driver was ‘offended’ by his England football T-shirt, his mother has claimed. Sam Fardon, 27, was allegedly told to get off the service with her sons Dylan, two, and 10-week-old Adam as they made their way to a childcare group.” Again, FirstBus are the accused.

Of course it may be true this time – heaven forbid. Let’s hope that CCTV proves it one way or the other.

New ticket machines

Drivers at Winchester have now completed their first week’s use of the new ticket machines. The machines were introduced on Sunday but since many services don’t run on a Sunday and those that do are at reduced frequency only a relatively few drivers were working that day. Monday morning was the real start and thankfully I didn’t work either Monday or Tuesday – there were stories of drivers leaving the bus station 20 minutes late as they struggled to get to grips with the new machines. Until I take a photo of one of our machines here is a picture I managed to find on the Internet.

Also you can read all about the ERG Ticket Systems TP5000 here .

I’ve now used the new machine for only 4 days so it’s a little early to make a final judgement. So far it’s good in parts and terrible in others! I’m sure some faults are down to Stagecoach because the machine is very customisable and it’s these bits that either Stagecoach haven’t taken much care over, or if ERG did it for them Stagecoach haven’t picked up on the errors. For example there are two LCD’s on the machine, one for the driver and another directed toward the passenger which displays “TO: ………..” and displays the fare (incidentally, it doesn’t indicate whether the fare being charged is a single or return ticket which to my mind is a bad omission). However, it’s the TO: destination as displayed on the customer LCD which is worst of all, there is limited space in which to display the destination so in some cases it needs to be truncated. I would naturally expect letters at the end of the destination to be those that are cut off but no, the first letter or two is cut off! Passengers going to, for example Colden Common” have a display which reads “TO: olden Common”. If you think you’re going to Sparsholt the display reads “TO: arsholt” which may come dangerously close to offending some passengers whilst amusing others. This is just sloppiness which should have been picked up well before the machines entered service. I wonder if it will ever be corrected? If you’re using the TP5000 outside the Stagecoach Winchester area please post a comment on how your machines handle destination truncation in the customer LCD.

Finding adult day tickets of the numerous types, child tickets, family tickets, week tickets etc. is now much easier. Hooray!

High on the priority list for all drivers is to ensure that the bus runs as near on-time as possible (late you can’t control, early you should be able to). The display on the old ticket machines, when not issuing tickets, reverted to a nice big time and date being displayed. I never realised how many times I checked the time against my running until Wednesday when I used the new machine for the first time. The time is displayed in the smallest font possible almost as if it were an after thought. It can be read by peering intently at the screen when stationary but becomes a blur once the bus is moving and the ticket machine vibrating. Again I can’t understand why no one has picked this up before.

There is one other other thing I really dislike but I’m not sure if it’s Stagecoach specific or TP5000 specific. Anyway it’ll take a long explanation so I’ll save that for another posting when I update my opinions having used the machine for longer.

22 August 2010. There’s an update here.

You’ve got here!

If you are seeing this you’re reading the blog from the new server. Moving the blog with its database across to the new hosting company did produce a few times when I had to stop and think things through slowly but overall it was easier than expected. I also took the opportunity to upgrade the software to the latest release which prior to this time had failed each time I tried it. The database required upgrading as well and it was this part of the process which had always failed before. Quite why it’s now worked I’m not sure but I’m not complaining. The only difference you may notice is that it’s easier to comment – you don’t need to do a maths question to prove you’re human and if it’s your first comment you don’t have to wait for it to be approved. This has come about because of superior spam trapping in the latest version …….. at least that’s how I expect it to be!

Mugabe’s Letter to David Cameron

From The Office Of The Commander In Chief, Chancellor, Head of State And Government And Every Little Thing That Dares To Move In Zimbabwe.

17 May 2010

State House

Hon. David Cameron MP
Downing Street

Dear Dhivha,

I’m sure you will not find it presumptuous of one to call you by your name. I have been following your campaign for so long that I feel I know you quite intimately.

Maybe I ought to rephrase that – not in the Tony Blair gay gangster way you understand…After all, you and I have something in common. We both have young, beautiful wives and that perishes that nasty thought – I beat you to it on this, mine is young enough to be my great grand daughter.

Though quite how you and Nick managed to campaign and score at home at the same time beats me. It must be some new fangled vitamins and what not. I’m usually worn out totally after a day on the campaign trail in my executive military choppers that I have to sleep it off and I want nothing to do with that overactive young filly, Pfizer’s riser notwithstanding. Too much information, I think, especially on a first date so I’ll leave it at that hard point.

Congratulations to you and may I let you in on a little secret. I was wringing my hands with all of your supporters here as the votes came in, though quite how you would do something as foolish as allow all your results to come in within 24 hours of voting for 650 constituencies fails to make sense to me..

In my last election, I took all of one month to go through 120 odd seats. Perhaps now that you have the whip hand, I can show you how an election is run. I was listening intently to your itinerary and I must say I am miffed that my delightful country is nowhere near your first ports of call.

I can assure you, I can get down as well as any of your young age mates Barack, Dmitry and Nikolas, so don’t put it off too long.

Now that you are safely ensconced within Number 10 (remember to change it to Number 1), I think you will take care not to go the way of that overactive warmonger Tony and his lugubrious bloodhound Gordon. Those two had no respect, I tell you.

I have spent the last decade yearning, nay pining, for a return to power of the dear old Tory party. After all, we became quite acquainted during the days of the Lancaster House conference. You were just out of your nappies then David but this is important history, especially if you want peace between our historic nations. There is nothing like a proud history to unite great nations.

Speaking of history, I could go on and on about the nice teas in the Rose Garden with dear old John (Mr Major to you). I particularly recall his famous “Put up or shut up” statement when the pesky William Hague was trying to unseat him.

My ever vigilant Press Secretary has just informed me Hague is now your Foreign Secretary so I will ask the ever eager young George Charamba – I’m sure you have heard of him, he’s quite famous for his hanging sentences…to put in a word to dear old William and tell him I forgive him for weakening the party and allowing big eared Tony to sweep into power.

If this hadn’t happened, your party would have funded our well planned land reform programme and we all would still be bosom buddies- again, not in the Tony Blair g** g**gstar way (edited by Press Secretary in the interests of world peace and safe visits to London, pass my apologies to Peter Tatchell- GC).

Speaking of which, I’d really like to know what your plans are on this land reform matter. I know you were toddling around in expensive schools at the time we came back from the war but when you take over a country you take over everything, including the promises of Tory regimes past.

Let me know as soon as you can because, between you and me, the primitive lot I pushed onto the productive lands has wreaked havoc. They only produce loads of weeds and smoke from veld fire as they hunt mice- which are a delicacy I may add- I sometimes have them for supper, blended into anonymity in my beef stroganoff. If I can’t get these farms going again my impeccable, revolutionary legacy is in serious danger of being tarnished.

I am enclosing an offer letter and a 99 year lease for some prime land in the Zambezi Valley for you and the delectable Sam. (I must admit, that name had me thinking for a moment you were in league with Tony…but happily I was wrong.)

Your rapid response will be met with a major welcome at an ash-free Harare International by the women’s league led by our delightful Maggie Dongo. I’m afraid you will have to leave Sam at home for this one.

Till I hear from you,

Yours Sincerely

You can call me Bob, and no, I’m not your uncle.