Winchester Bloke runs from the buses...

Daily Echo: Photo by Jim Photo by Jim

The old saying; ‘You might get run over by a bus tomorrow’ took on a sinister edge recently with Winchester’s busses having one by one been secreted away to a hidden workshop and given their new Turbo charged Formula One racing engines. Or so it would seem.

I’m only just the wrong side of forty, reasonably physically fit and in possession of a certain amount of road sense but none of this readied me for the near death experience I had with the bus coming along Chesil Street the other day. It came from nowhere and let me tell you, it was moving. The thing missed me by just under an inch. Okay, this sort of thing happens to us all once in a blue moon. Then it happened again two days later. That bus was really shifting that time. I don’t know if it was the same bus but not having to my knowledge outraged any bus drivers recently I feel I can safely exclude a personal vendetta from the equation. What was going on?

Ever since those two incidents I have been watching buses and boy, they all seem to be flying around the streets. Too fast! as my old driving instructor was want to say at every juncture when teaching me the delicacies of driving.

After a week of observing the new high speed buses it was time to ask the local bus company to come clean about what they’ve done to warrant this drastic increase in the chances that some, if not all of us will be ‘hit by a bus tomorrow’ after all. I picked up the phone to dial the number and then I paused. Maybe I should have a think about what I was going to say. Well, I’d start with the obvious – do you realize that I have nearly been killed by not one but two of your buses in the same number of days – that would get them going and, apart from the obvious ‘No, we didn’t realize that Mr Winchester-Bloke and we’re extremely sorry to hear that’, which I would never get from them anyway as they would refuse point blank to accept any liability by way of an apology, I wasn’t entirely sure that what they would say. It might, I speculated after a few more moments of thought, not be very pleasing to my ear.

This is because I am sure they would state in a most matter-of-fact way that their drivers never exceed the speed limits and drove in full compliance with any traffic regulations in force on the roads which is probably true. Then, in a roundabout (excuse the pun) sort of way, politely tell me to watch where I’m bloody well crossing the road in future.

But damn it all, I’m not an old fogey, am I? No! I am not. Instead I have another theory, and it’s a disturbing one I'm afraid, and it is this; the new and doubtless improved buses are symptomatic of all of society that got itself in one hell of a rush. The pace of life is unrelenting. Ten years ago busses were the filthy, dirty, smoke belching lumps of the road. Darting across a busy street was a cinch if there was a bus coming – you knew you had a few seconds longer to do it. Running for an old Routemaster (the ones with the open back you can hop on and off) was simplicity itself as the things couldn’t go more than about ten miles an hour. Not so today. With the engines being cleaned up and made environmentally aware and zero-emitting and all that jazz has also meant they’re a hell of a lot faster. These new ‘public conveyances’ are leaner, quicker and nimbler. The brakes are better so the drivers know they can go quicker and brake later and all in all it’s made for a decidedly dicey situation on the Queen’s highway.

See where I’m coming from here? That’s right, I absolutely refuse to acknowledge that it’s my fault in any way. It’s not because my senses aren't quite as sharp as they used to be. It’s not because I’ve usually got about a dozen other things all competing for my mind’s attention in addition to crossing the road and it’s not because I refuse to move with the times and ‘get up to speed’ with the rest of society, like using the pelican crossings provided for instance. So bus drivers beware, I might be crossing the road in front of you one day! I don’t mean beware as a warning, I mean it as a polite request. Pretty Please, the daft idiot in the middle of the road is me and I might not be able to move quite as fast as I used to.

Comments (11)

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11:12am Sun 4 Mar 12

Northamboy says...

Normally Winchester Bloke can be quite funny or witty to read but this one seems to be one long moan.
Normally Winchester Bloke can be quite funny or witty to read but this one seems to be one long moan. Northamboy
  • Score: 0

6:06pm Sun 4 Mar 12

Niel says...

But he's right, bus drivers are pushing along faster, I took a Uni-Link bus from the Uni to the General, no where along the route is it anything other than a 30 limit, yet I saw 50 MPH on the speedo several times as the driver attempted to keep to timetable... I've also seen them ignoring RED stop lights at pedestrian crossings on Uni Road, but although they may have improved brakes they won't use them if they have passengers on board, better to run one down, and kill them, than risk killing a passenger. Yes that is a 'legal' defense, for a bus driver.
But he's right, bus drivers are pushing along faster, I took a Uni-Link bus from the Uni to the General, no where along the route is it anything other than a 30 limit, yet I saw 50 MPH on the speedo several times as the driver attempted to keep to timetable... I've also seen them ignoring RED stop lights at pedestrian crossings on Uni Road, but although they may have improved brakes they won't use them if they have passengers on board, better to run one down, and kill them, than risk killing a passenger. Yes that is a 'legal' defense, for a bus driver. Niel
  • Score: 0

11:42am Mon 12 Mar 12

IanRRR says...

I read this article with interest. Having recently returned to the bus industry, after many years away, I can really see your point.
You made a comparison between the vehicles used. Yes the buses are much more environmentally friendly, but the engine size hasnt really changed that much at all. The big difference is that nearly all modern buses are fully automatic, meaning that the driver no longer has to wait for the engine to die down to the correct number of revs, to avoid crunching the gears. Instead, he can happily throttle away, knowing that the vehicle will cruise through the gears.
But surely with these more efficient buses, journey times will be cut, because the buses will go faster as a result? Not a bit of it. If one compares the journey times today, to those of 50 years ago, they are virtually unaltered.... The simple reason is one person operation, and our old friend, health and safety.... With the old open back buses, the vehicles would get away from the bus stops much faster, and often not even have to stop at all. When boarding, passengers would get on, and the conductor would take the fare while the bus was travelling. When alighting, passengers would frequently hop off wherever the bus was held up in traffic, meaning that the vehicle would not need to pull in to let them off. Today, the bus will pull in, the driver will have to open the doors, possibly lower the vehicle to the kerb for a pushchair or elderly person, or access the ramp for a wheelchair user. He then has to take the fare, or record which type of pass the client has submitted, before closing the doors and pulling away from the bus stop, in theory AFTER the passengers have safely sat down. Many buses are fitted with delay devices, which will not allow the driver to pull away, until the doors have been closed and the handbrake has been released for a few seconds.
So the reality of all this "progress", is that buses still take just as long to complete their journey, but spend far more time stationary at the bus stop, and less time actually travelling. This means that they inevitably need to travel faster once moving, to keep up with an acceptable timetable. I can tell you from my own experience, that there is absolutely no slack in the timetables, except possibly late at night or early in the morning, when you may occasionally see a bus at a stop, waiting for time. At the end of his trip, the driver has about two minutes to change his destination display, reset his ticket machine, turn the vehicle around, and be back on duty for his public, in order to depart on time. None of this allows for traffic delays (have you been in the centre of Southampton lately?!), many of which are caused by four buses trying to use the same bus stop at the same time, and holding each other up before being able to pull away.... . Drivers are often locked in their cab for four to five hours, as there simply isnt time to get out to stretch their legs. So, here we are, 50 years on. Buses are cleaner, warmer, safer, smoother, accessible to far more people, and still great value for money. But they dont get anywhere faster than they used to, despite travelling faster between stops. Bring back the conductor!
I read this article with interest. Having recently returned to the bus industry, after many years away, I can really see your point. You made a comparison between the vehicles used. Yes the buses are much more environmentally friendly, but the engine size hasnt really changed that much at all. The big difference is that nearly all modern buses are fully automatic, meaning that the driver no longer has to wait for the engine to die down to the correct number of revs, to avoid crunching the gears. Instead, he can happily throttle away, knowing that the vehicle will cruise through the gears. But surely with these more efficient buses, journey times will be cut, because the buses will go faster as a result? Not a bit of it. If one compares the journey times today, to those of 50 years ago, they are virtually unaltered.... The simple reason is one person operation, and our old friend, health and safety.... With the old open back buses, the vehicles would get away from the bus stops much faster, and often not even have to stop at all. When boarding, passengers would get on, and the conductor would take the fare while the bus was travelling. When alighting, passengers would frequently hop off wherever the bus was held up in traffic, meaning that the vehicle would not need to pull in to let them off. Today, the bus will pull in, the driver will have to open the doors, possibly lower the vehicle to the kerb for a pushchair or elderly person, or access the ramp for a wheelchair user. He then has to take the fare, or record which type of pass the client has submitted, before closing the doors and pulling away from the bus stop, in theory AFTER the passengers have safely sat down. Many buses are fitted with delay devices, which will not allow the driver to pull away, until the doors have been closed and the handbrake has been released for a few seconds. So the reality of all this "progress", is that buses still take just as long to complete their journey, but spend far more time stationary at the bus stop, and less time actually travelling. This means that they inevitably need to travel faster once moving, to keep up with an acceptable timetable. I can tell you from my own experience, that there is absolutely no slack in the timetables, except possibly late at night or early in the morning, when you may occasionally see a bus at a stop, waiting for time. At the end of his trip, the driver has about two minutes to change his destination display, reset his ticket machine, turn the vehicle around, and be back on duty for his public, in order to depart on time. None of this allows for traffic delays (have you been in the centre of Southampton lately?!), many of which are caused by four buses trying to use the same bus stop at the same time, and holding each other up before being able to pull away.... . Drivers are often locked in their cab for four to five hours, as there simply isnt time to get out to stretch their legs. So, here we are, 50 years on. Buses are cleaner, warmer, safer, smoother, accessible to far more people, and still great value for money. But they dont get anywhere faster than they used to, despite travelling faster between stops. Bring back the conductor! IanRRR
  • Score: 0

8:31pm Mon 12 Mar 12

jim_s1s says...

Excellent comments - keep them coming - Next? Winchester Bloke hears an American woman describe Stonehenge as "A Pile of old stones"...and is typically infuriated and heads for the typewriter...
Excellent comments - keep them coming - Next? Winchester Bloke hears an American woman describe Stonehenge as "A Pile of old stones"...and is typically infuriated and heads for the typewriter... jim_s1s
  • Score: -1

1:28am Tue 13 Mar 12

IanRRR says...

Niel wrote:
But he's right, bus drivers are pushing along faster, I took a Uni-Link bus from the Uni to the General, no where along the route is it anything other than a 30 limit, yet I saw 50 MPH on the speedo several times as the driver attempted to keep to timetable... I've also seen them ignoring RED stop lights at pedestrian crossings on Uni Road, but although they may have improved brakes they won't use them if they have passengers on board, better to run one down, and kill them, than risk killing a passenger. Yes that is a 'legal' defense, for a bus driver.
This is nonsense. I fully expect that you were reading the KILOMETRE per hour dial, which is about 30 mph. Its pretty difficult to get one of those buses up to 50 mph, except on a very long straight road, and even then it takes forever to build up that sort of speed...
[quote][p][bold]Niel[/bold] wrote: But he's right, bus drivers are pushing along faster, I took a Uni-Link bus from the Uni to the General, no where along the route is it anything other than a 30 limit, yet I saw 50 MPH on the speedo several times as the driver attempted to keep to timetable... I've also seen them ignoring RED stop lights at pedestrian crossings on Uni Road, but although they may have improved brakes they won't use them if they have passengers on board, better to run one down, and kill them, than risk killing a passenger. Yes that is a 'legal' defense, for a bus driver.[/p][/quote]This is nonsense. I fully expect that you were reading the KILOMETRE per hour dial, which is about 30 mph. Its pretty difficult to get one of those buses up to 50 mph, except on a very long straight road, and even then it takes forever to build up that sort of speed... IanRRR
  • Score: 0

9:19am Tue 13 Mar 12

Niel says...

Given the instrument was twin scale and I could see higher numbers smaller on its face, it was MPH. Mind you Uni-Link's buses seemed to be driven hard most of the time to try and stick to time table, green wave or not Southampton's 'go-slo' traffic light system doesn't help, perhaps that why they seem to run RED lights so often...
Given the instrument was twin scale and I could see higher numbers smaller on its face, it was MPH. Mind you Uni-Link's buses seemed to be driven hard most of the time to try and stick to time table, green wave or not Southampton's 'go-slo' traffic light system doesn't help, perhaps that why they seem to run RED lights so often... Niel
  • Score: 0

4:40pm Tue 13 Mar 12

Goldenwight says...

My dear mother always used to say to me likewise "Always wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus and have to go to hospital."

I can assure you, if I'm ever in this situation, my underwear will no longer be clean by this stage.
My dear mother always used to say to me likewise "Always wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a bus and have to go to hospital." I can assure you, if I'm ever in this situation, my underwear will no longer be clean by this stage. Goldenwight
  • Score: 0

11:37pm Thu 15 Mar 12

sotonbusdriver says...

IanRRR wrote:
Niel wrote:
But he's right, bus drivers are pushing along faster, I took a Uni-Link bus from the Uni to the General, no where along the route is it anything other than a 30 limit, yet I saw 50 MPH on the speedo several times as the driver attempted to keep to timetable... I've also seen them ignoring RED stop lights at pedestrian crossings on Uni Road, but although they may have improved brakes they won't use them if they have passengers on board, better to run one down, and kill them, than risk killing a passenger. Yes that is a 'legal' defense, for a bus driver.
This is nonsense. I fully expect that you were reading the KILOMETRE per hour dial, which is about 30 mph. Its pretty difficult to get one of those buses up to 50 mph, except on a very long straight road, and even then it takes forever to build up that sort of speed...
All large vehicles have KM/PH in large digits and MPH is only very small numbers more towards the centre of the dial, therefore for someone, unfamiliar with this can easily read 50mph by mistake.
As a bus driver for a competitor in the city, I have been questioned many times, when passengers have stood along side me waiting to get off that I was travelling to fast. I've had to point out the error in their readings.
If the original critic was stood that close to the driver to read the speedo, while travelling at 50kmph, be aware you were committing an OFFENCE, as it is illegal to stand on the platform while the bus is in motion.
If you were stood
[quote][p][bold]IanRRR[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Niel[/bold] wrote: But he's right, bus drivers are pushing along faster, I took a Uni-Link bus from the Uni to the General, no where along the route is it anything other than a 30 limit, yet I saw 50 MPH on the speedo several times as the driver attempted to keep to timetable... I've also seen them ignoring RED stop lights at pedestrian crossings on Uni Road, but although they may have improved brakes they won't use them if they have passengers on board, better to run one down, and kill them, than risk killing a passenger. Yes that is a 'legal' defense, for a bus driver.[/p][/quote]This is nonsense. I fully expect that you were reading the KILOMETRE per hour dial, which is about 30 mph. Its pretty difficult to get one of those buses up to 50 mph, except on a very long straight road, and even then it takes forever to build up that sort of speed...[/p][/quote]All large vehicles have KM/PH in large digits and MPH is only very small numbers more towards the centre of the dial, therefore for someone, unfamiliar with this can easily read 50mph by mistake. As a bus driver for a competitor in the city, I have been questioned many times, when passengers have stood along side me waiting to get off that I was travelling to fast. I've had to point out the error in their readings. If the original critic was stood that close to the driver to read the speedo, while travelling at 50kmph, be aware you were committing an OFFENCE, as it is illegal to stand on the platform while the bus is in motion. If you were stood sotonbusdriver
  • Score: 0

10:59pm Sun 18 Mar 12

IanRRR says...

Niel wrote:
Given the instrument was twin scale and I could see higher numbers smaller on its face, it was MPH. Mind you Uni-Link's buses seemed to be driven hard most of the time to try and stick to time table, green wave or not Southampton's 'go-slo' traffic light system doesn't help, perhaps that why they seem to run RED lights so often...
I am really not sure how "tongue in cheek" your comments are? By your reckoning, every bus driver on Uni-Link would have lost their entitlement to drive by now! They cannot constantly run red lights, as many have cameras on them. We also have an army of Police out there, who watch for this type of thing. As for your speeding accusations, I seriously suggest that you ask any bus driver how long it takes to get a bus up to 50mph... Not only this, but every vehicle on their fleet is tracked by GPS (to include speed monitoring), and I can absolutely assure you that the Go Ahead group would not risk their operators licence by allowing such a thing. I think your comments are pure fantasy, or you have very bad eyesight!
[quote][p][bold]Niel[/bold] wrote: Given the instrument was twin scale and I could see higher numbers smaller on its face, it was MPH. Mind you Uni-Link's buses seemed to be driven hard most of the time to try and stick to time table, green wave or not Southampton's 'go-slo' traffic light system doesn't help, perhaps that why they seem to run RED lights so often...[/p][/quote]I am really not sure how "tongue in cheek" your comments are? By your reckoning, every bus driver on Uni-Link would have lost their entitlement to drive by now! They cannot constantly run red lights, as many have cameras on them. We also have an army of Police out there, who watch for this type of thing. As for your speeding accusations, I seriously suggest that you ask any bus driver how long it takes to get a bus up to 50mph... Not only this, but every vehicle on their fleet is tracked by GPS (to include speed monitoring), and I can absolutely assure you that the Go Ahead group would not risk their operators licence by allowing such a thing. I think your comments are pure fantasy, or you have very bad eyesight! IanRRR
  • Score: 0

11:11pm Sun 18 Mar 12

Niel says...

Not bad eye-sight, and not 'tongue-in-cheek", though the observed speeding was the last lot running Uni-Link, not Blue-Star, so before the tracking, not that that stops it, Luckett's wouldn't even check their units record when informed of excessive speed during the walk to school hour.
And I very much doubt the Police would do much about it, public transport appears to be handled with Kidd gloves, even when presented with video evidence they don't want to know, BTDTWTTS.
Not bad eye-sight, and not 'tongue-in-cheek", though the observed speeding was the last lot running Uni-Link, not Blue-Star, so before the tracking, not that that stops it, Luckett's wouldn't even check their units record when informed of excessive speed during the walk to school hour. And I very much doubt the Police would do much about it, public transport appears to be handled with Kidd gloves, even when presented with video evidence they don't want to know, BTDTWTTS. Niel
  • Score: 0

7:29pm Mon 19 Mar 12

dolomiteman says...

Winchester bloke, next time you see aspeeding bus take the reg number and report in writting to the operations manager at Bar End as far as Im aware all the are tracked and they do take complaints seriously, oh and a Routemaster can reach over 40 mph but does take while to get there but winchester NEVER had RM's in service!
Winchester bloke, next time you see aspeeding bus take the reg number and report in writting to the operations manager at Bar End as far as Im aware all the are tracked and they do take complaints seriously, oh and a Routemaster can reach over 40 mph but does take while to get there but winchester NEVER had RM's in service! dolomiteman
  • Score: 0

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