Monthly Archives: December 2010

Bus Passes

You may have noticed that I’ve added another site to the Bus Blogroll – The Bus Passes Blog. I’ve added the link not because I’m a supporter of bus passes but because the site does cover its subject extremely well.

Since I earn my living driving a bus I should be all in favour of bus passes and the revenue they provide to my employer, but I’m also a tax payer who resents the £1 billion per year cost of a benefit given out without regard to anything other than a numerical number of years. Alan Sugar can have a bus pass, Richard Branson can have a bus pass, Paul McCartney can have a bus pass etc etc. Giving a free bus pass to everyone whose age is the number 60 or greater, regardless of wealth, health and need, is as indefensible as giving everyone whose house number is 60 or greater a free bus pass! A bus pass should be issued because of need, not because of a magic number. Given the choice to award a bus pass to either a 60 year Senior Partner in a City law firm or a 16 year old school leaver trying to get to job interviews who would you give it to? There aren’t many holders of bus passes who couldn’t afford to make a small contribution toward the cost of their ticket rather than have the tax payer pick up the lot!

Prior to the introduction of the free bus pass, the bus pass entitled the holder to half price travel. I don’t think this passenger contribution to the cost of travel actually stopped anyone who needed to travel from travelling. But once it became a ‘right’ to get on any bus and go anywhere for free some people began to abuse it. Prior to free travel I don’t think I ever heard someone ask “Where are you going?” and when told said “That’s fine, I’ll go there then”, they don’t need to go anywhere but because it’s a ‘right’ to get on any bus they’ll use it and let the taxpayer pay for their ticket.

It was nice to read that at least one bus company Chief Executive, Keith Ludeman of Go-Ahead, has some idea about limiting use. A report here says “Last year Ludeman warned that the 11 million pensioners who enjoy the scheme “cannot be given a blank cheque” and suggested putting a cash limit on passes once they become part of an Oyster-style national smartcard programme.”

Not working this week

Almost everyone wants a week’s holiday at Christmas but only a limited number of drivers can be off at any one time. At our depot the opportunity to take holiday at Christmas revolves and this year I was in the top eight so took this week as holiday, next year I’ll be bottom of the ‘pile’ as it rotates. That’s why it’s a bit quiet here.

This morning we had to go to Portsmouth for a Passport Interview for Tina, our 16 year old. Before the interview we were having coffee in Costa Coffee when we heard a loud bang. Here’s what happened outside (click on the picture to enlarge).

And, another picture taken from the opposite direction after the car had been removed. No, we didn’t hang around that long! The first picture was taken after we left the Costa to go to the interview and the second on our way back later.

You’ll see that the vehicle was in a pedestrian area and at its dead end. How it came to be travelling fast enough to do that amount of damage to the vehicle and tree is beyond me – it was driving on the pavement in the pedestrian area! Thank heavens neither we nor anyone else was walking there at that moment.

Insane Bus Driver Brutally Murders Snowman

Full national newspaper coverage in the Daily Mail.

A bus drives through a pile of snow on a road somewhere in the USA. A national newspaper on a different continent deems this to be newsworthy with a headline including the words ‘brutal murder’ . A very slow day for news on this small island. Obviously, no cats stuck up trees or Elvis sightings to grab the headlines.

A cheery First Bus driver

Today I did my own version of P+R into Southampton – drive to Shirley Road, park in a side street and then take any passing bus (they come every couple of minutes) into town. Bluestar and First buses both cover this route but it was a First bus which rather appropriately came first today. As I boarded I had to smile. This wasn’t a driver wearing a Santa hat and and looking rather silly in it alongside a uniform jacket, shirt and company tie. This was a real Santa! I hate to say this but my general experience of First drivers in Southampton is not that they are rude or nasty, just that they’re uncommunicative and rather robotic – say the price, print the ticket and leave it at that. No ‘please’ and ‘thanks’ etc. I always say ‘Thanks’, ‘Cheers’ whatever when I leave any bus but it’s rare to get any reply from a Southampton First driver. So it was a real treat to see a driver who was actually going out of his way to be cheery. I asked if I could take a photo of him and put it on this blog, he agreed and I hope that he gets to see it. Well done that man!

Too much bling? Give us a ring!

“A CAMPAIGN to shop criminals who live off the proceeds of crime is being backed by a bus. Southern Vectis has covered the back of one its double-decker buses with the Crimestoppers’ campaign, Too much bling? Give us a ring! The crime charity hopes the campaign will lead to people reporting loan sharks, drug dealers, thieves and benefit cheats. Marc Morgan-Huws, of Go South Coast, said Southern Vectis backed the campaign to support Crimestoppers keeping the Island safe.” IoW County Press.

Ahem …. is this really a wise thing to say? Bling isn’t my thing, if you know me you’ll already have noticed that! But I think to brand those whose do enjoy sparkly, ostentatious, ornamentation as “loan sharks, drug dealers, thieves and benefit cheats” is going a bit far. I’d back any campaign by Crimestoppers to keep my home area safe but I’d draw the line at targeting any one group of people by race, colour, sex, religion …… lifestyle taste (bling lovers) as likely candidates to be up to no good however lightly or amusingly it’s meant.

Anyway, if that’s their game they can start by reporting this bus to Crimestoppers :-)

I don’t want to be a bus driver in Guatemala!

During the past 3 years 450 bus drivers have been murdered!

Photographer Daniel LeClair works for Reuters and has been based in Central America since 1999, but is now facing the possibility that he will have to leave. The ongoing bus war and violence in Guatemala City, where he and his family have been living, has forced some changes. Here is the story in his own words:

“I can clearly remember the day the bus war escalated. It was 4 February 2008. Two extortionists were shot and killed while trying to collect a payment on a bus in downtown Guatemala City. Drivers, tired of paying thousands of dollars in extortion, had hired the assassins.

“As I photographed the scene, I overheard police telling each other this was a declaration of war. The response from gang members was brutal. Fifteen drivers and eight assistants were killed over the next three days. I would spend my whole day going from one bus driver’s murder to another, then to a funeral for the drivers killed the day before.

The rest of his story can be read here.