Friday 31 December 2010

A review of the year

Firstly I'll start with an apology for the lack of posting this week. Unfortunately I've gone down with this bug again for the 2nd time in 3 weeks! Just what I need in the run up to my AS Level January exams, but that's life I suppose! 

Well, what a year for the blog. At the time of writing this little corner of the internet has received 41'000 views since I started about 3 1/2 years ago. Remarkably though, over half of these total views have been within this year alone. The numbers have been steadily rising throughout the year, peaking at 2'830 last month. Of course this is largely thanks to the constant support many of the transport blogs have received from DBG at Plymothian Transit, so I'd like to again publicly thank him for the success he has spread to us. 

Now lets try and sum up the year a bit. I'm going to to list each month, and give a short extract from my favourite or most interesting post from the 254 posts I have for some strange reason, spent my time writing this year! 

"Another Goodbye"
And this time comes the turn of the G-TWSs. These started life with Badgerline in Bristol and worked many of the routes in the area for many years, into the First Group era.

"57000 now in Devon"
With thanks to a friend I can bring you this photo of the sole Plaxton Primo with First Devon and Cornwall. This bus was used as a demo in its early life until Truronian bought it to use on their services.

"Driver CPC"
The new Driver CPC laws have of course been causing a lot of controversy over past months, and two of the A-Line drivers have just taken part in their first training session.

"Enviros hit Plymouth"
I was very lucky today in the fact that while waiting for my bus home this came along! My first spot of one of these '09' reg Enviros in service and I must admit they do stand out on the streets of Plymouth.

"Happy Birthday 913!"
Here she is 913 DTT, making it all the way to 50 years old.  This weekend Terry Bennett joined with many other local enthusiasts to celebrate this momentous occasion with a trip on her old haunts around along the Devon coastal roads.

"Enterprise Boats' Leyland Olympian"
Enterprise Boat's Ex Stagecoach Leyland Olympian, K660 UNH. Of course this has replaced the beloved Bristol VR on the route between Truro and Malpas.

"Ilfracombe...and back!"
Well maybe I was slightly mad going from Cornwall to Ilfracombe and back in a day. I never really imagined it would take as long as it did!

"Whitsand open top"
I heard a very interesting comment that Cremyll Cabs/Coaches were at one point looking to buy the AEC for use on a Whitsand Bay tour type service along the twisting roads of the Rame Peninsula.

"Another K reg Lives on"
With thanks to Matt McWheeney I can bring you this photo the 2nd PCB Dart that has made it to Halifax, this being K110 SFJ. Of course unlike L126 which had only recently been withdrawn, K110 has been out of action for a while now.

"A sad passing"
Sad news to confirm today after K802 ORL has been confirmed withdrawn and awaiting disposal.

A-Line fleet updates
Now I must admit, this one is quite a beast! Behind this modern looking Van Hool bodywork is in fact A182 MNE, a 1984 Volvo B10M!
The first of the new buses to join A-Line Travel  Coaches this week was this Marshall bodied Iveco 59.12.

Right well where to start. Plymouth chucked up some interesting workings today. Starting with FDC, no less than 3 Leyland Olympians...

So that's it from me for this year. Thank you all very much for your continued support over the year, and I look forward to writing more informative posts over 2011! 

Saturday 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas from PTOTPA!

Well its a Merry Christmas today from PTOTPA. Thanks for all your support during the year, this being the blog's most sucessful yet. But I'll review that nearer the end of the year.

Hope you all have a great Christmas! For now bask in the glory of R651 YCR, trudging through snow against all odds!
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Friday 24 December 2010

A Christmas treat for Cremyll passengers!

Well lets have a change from buses, and instead a post on the Cremyll Ferry! Northern Belle has now returned to operation after her annual refit. This year it has seemed particularly quick, and Northern is looking spectacular again, ready for another season of hard graft. Its always a momentous day when the Northern returns to work, you get that little warm feeling, which is felt by all passengers, when you know your back in the hands of the best boat. 

A very pleasing addition to the Northern has come up on this refit. For many years we have 'suffered' in the cold while on-board Northern, due to the lack of heaters, combined with the temperature being radiated from the cold water surrounding the hull. Well this year, she has been fitted with heaters! Though this may seem small and insignificant, I'm quite frankly over the moon with it. Finally no more cold winter mornings crossings, it's just going to make my life that bit more pleasant. Well done Tamar Cruising! 

Thursday 23 December 2010

Christmas comes early for the bus spotter...

Well firstly I shall say I have been reliably informed that there is a Plymouth Citybus Dennis Dart out there, running around with the new logos applied to it. After a Mr Sheppard gave me the tip off I went hot on the heels of this mystery Dart, but unfortunately had no luck with finding it, so keep your eyes peeled for it in the near future! 

Right well where to start. Plymouth chucked up some interesting workings today. Starting with FDC, no less than 3 Leyland Olympians were out and about today, these being K615, K616 and K619 LAE. As luck would have it, all three were in Bretonside at one point, and allowed me to get this photo of the trio basking in the winter sunlight! Warms the cockles to think these have survived all these years never separated! 

That was about it from FDC, so onto Plymouth Citybus, there was a good mix of step entrance Darts out today, but no particularly interesting workings, other than L116 YOD escaping onto the 16 at one point. The rest were on the usual 46/47s and on the 152, so we won't dwell. 

I bumped into Mike Hudson who was out on the 23/4s today around Mount Gould. Of course usually these are operated with Dennis Dart MPDs, which Mike originally had out, but as luck may have it, he was forced to have a bus change, and all that was left, was a Mercedes 709! I can't say I've seen a 709 on the Mount Gould runs any time recently, so was good to see N284 PDV out playing her trade. No one particularly struggled with the steps, and she gave a, should I say thrilling, ride on the 24. I must admit, Mike is a very skilled driver, and really enabled me to see what she can do in the hands of a decent driver! Great work! 

And onto the last, but by no means least, in fact quite the opposite was amazing a Volvo B10M Citybus! Yes that's right, G615 OTV had miraculously escaped into service today. I haven't seen a Volvo out in service for a considerable amount of time, and to find her on a core service, used to Enviro 200s was quite a shock. Its true, she is a bit rough round the edges, and the passengers certainly seemed to make a point of that, but what a dream G615 is. I've never been on her until today, but this is a really really good example of a decent Citybus. Dare I say it, better than FDC's D-GHYs and E-BTAs. The gearbox made some lovely noises, and the engine still pulled really well. 34 is getting a bit of a reputation for regularly being 15 minutes late, I experience this first hand, but G615 managed to stay fairly close to the timetable, only running between 4 and 8 minutes late, when noted throughout the day. As silly as it sounds, though the physical movement of boarding the bus is longer, having the central pole separating the flow of passengers on and off the bus actually really speeds things up at busy points of the route. I shall leave you with the photos for now, but I shall get back with some videos of both Mike driving, and of the G reg in the near future. 

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Carry on A-Line!

In the face of defeat, A-Line Coaches was the only company left running today on the Rame Peninsula. We haven't enjoyed a bus service since Saturday afternoon when FDC pulled out understandably, after the driver simply could not get any further! Sunday saw no running, and Monday the same. Tuesday has seen a test bus on the road in the form of 32762, but again, nothing has come of that after a crash earlier on today. A-Line didn't make it into service yesterday, simply because the bus couldn't make it out of the steep, untreated roads from St John, but forward thinking manager, Jim Goodard moved the bus up to a more main road, which meant the bus was available for service this morning! 

All services were run today, though as conditions in Cawsand worsened, Jim sensibly backed off and moved the terminus to Cawsand Scout Hut, rather than going down into the village to terminate. The photo above shows the normal terminus at Cawsand Triangle, covered with ice. 

The video I shall upload at a later date shows R651 YCR, with driver Steve Leigh negotiating the roads via Anderton from Cremyll to Millbrook. These were very icy and you will notice the bus simply sliding into the hedge, with no control. Steve skilfully negotiated this though, along with the various other obstacles on route. 

This video shows Steve pulling away from the temporary terminus at the Scout Hut, where again the ice was very apparent, where you can clearly see the wheels spinning on the ice. 

Cuffy also wanted me to post this new advert that he has produced for the company which I must admit is really smart, and of a high quality. It will appear in a local magazine soon to drum up some more business for the Private Hire section of the company which Derrick now operates. Please do visit if you haven't done so already, Cuffy regularly updates the site so is well worth a visit. 

Monday 20 December 2010

Let it snow...

Right well here come all my amazing interesting photos of the snow scenes in Plymouth. Ah wait! I haven't had a bus service since Saturday! The last service ran Saturday evening. The photos I have gained with thanks to the driver show 32762 at the point at which it could get no further at Coombe End surgery on the hill. He therefore had no choice but to reverse the Trident for some half a mile all the way back to Cawsand Triangle where he could turn in the bus bay, and then run out of service back to Trevol Road. Since then not even A-Line have been able to serve the Rame Peninsula. May I add that A-Line were the first to concede defeat this morning, and the first in the area to let their customers know they would not be running today at 05:49 this morning! 

I do hope to get out and about tomorrow if the weather allows me to, but we have seen a valient effort by all bus companies to sustain a service in these conditions, so well done! So I shall leave you with photos thanks to Jamie and Tom Pearce. 

Thursday 16 December 2010

Darting about

The past few weeks have been very good in terms of amounts of step entrance Dennis Darts on the roads of Plymouth. As Plymothian Transit reported in the week the old face of M420 CCV has returned to the streets of Plymouth under new ownership. Of course the bus previously worked for FDC, but was new to Western National in 1995 as a batch of 19. I really don't know how M420 has managed to escape the axe so many times, but here she is today! M420 was one of the last few step entrance Darts FDC ran alongside some slightly later P reg examples right up until last year. M420 I believe was then bought by Plymouth Argyle but then was subsequently sold to Target Travel. Today she has been tidied up, and placed into service. Strangely its haunt seems to be the 14, which is usually Solo operated. This could be because of the extra capacity needed for certain school journeys on the 14, and therefore the bus simply stays on the route all day, with one of the '14' liveried Solos operating the other service. Really good to see it still going into the new decade though. 

It has also been a good time for PCB's step Darts. With time being taken up in the workshops doing work on the London Darts and the Poole B7s, apparent vehicle shortages have led to a fair amount of the older Darts getting out to stretch their wheels on routes they aren't often seen on any more. I shall therefore take a direct report taken from the Yahoo Group, with thanks to the original poster:

There seemed to be a shortage of SLF/Citaros yesterday. Never seen so many Step Darts and Mercs out for a long time.

Route 16 - L119YOD
Route 26 - L121YOD, M130HOD
Route 28/28A/35 - M132HOD
Route 34 - M127HOD
Route 40 - L123YOD
Route 46 - L116/117YOD, M128HOD
Route 47 - L120/124YOD, M129HOD
Route 49 - L122YOD

Route 45 - N287PDV
Route 59 - N282/288PDV

Indeed today I spotted L123 YOD out on the 34, replacing the usual Enviro 200. Really good to see, as we draw even closer to the end of the Step Darts. 

Wednesday 15 December 2010

K103 SFJ - A final goodbye

With thanks to Darren Hewitt I can bring you this photo of K103 SFJ in her present condition. It was only a few weeks ago I posted an old photo I found that I took on my way home from school back in 2006 of her operating on the 26. Of course its very rare to see a step Dart on the route today ( thought ironically M131 HOD did operate the route for some of yesterday) so it did bring back some fond memories. But now this is the end of the road for K103 after the canabalising of the Darts continues under Go-Ahead operation. Luckily though, as Plymothian Transit has shown, more and more are continuing to escape into further operation with the latest being L118 YOD to Exelabus. 

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Dennis Dart goes low floor

Thanks to DBG at Plymothian Transit for reminding me about this one. As he says Dennis Dart (L112 YOD) has had a makeover and become low floor. No sorry, they haven't actually converted L112 YOD to low floor, the stickers have now been placed upon Y645 NYD (45) which was previously identified as 'Pippi' - Dennis Dart's best friend. Unfortunately L112 suffered gearbox failure last week, though it was hoped that a gearbox be be salvaged from K103 SFJ, but we will have to see the result of this.  

Sunday 5 December 2010

Snap on Sunday

The world whisks by, the Olympian stands still, fixed in time, (or at least for a few more months!)

Saturday 4 December 2010

'More' buses in Plymouth

Plymouth Citybus has now started refurbishing some Volvo B7s from Wilts and Dorset as well as the Blue Triangle Darts for London. The B7s are used on the 'More' branded routes around the Poole/Bournemouth/Christchurch area and were bought new for the services in 2004. This is surprisingly their first full refurbishment since they were first put into service. Transdev, the main rival in the towns, have been innovating the fleet regularly including a delivery of luxury Optare Tempos. The first one has now been rubbed down and ready for a repaint with HF54 HHD awaiting her turn, alongside the Blue Triangle Darts.

Olympian Overload

Olympians have been in abundance today around Plymouth with no less than 3 examples on offer, on 3 different routes! Its not uncommon to see at least 1 if not 2 on the Tavistock routes on any given day though. 

Firstly the duo of Olympians on the Tavi routes today were Torpoint's K804 ORL which had escaped today, likely after some maintainence in Plymouth. The other Olympian seen on the Tavi routes today was the 'usual' K614 LAE which is commonly seen on the Tavi routes alongside Tridents and B6s. 

Another example of the K-LAE batch was K615 LAE! Unfortuately the blind was not captured, but I had a very pleasureable trip onboard 615, suprisingly on the 15 to Mainstone! One of the duties is booked to be a double decker, though this is usually covered by a W reg Trident rather than a K reg Olympian, which was a shock for me, and passengers aboard the service alike. 

Lastly was K619 LAE which is not so commonly seen around the city. She was out operating on the 3, and then later switched onto the 6. K803 ORL was also out, on the usual round of 81/As. Really great to see some decent quality vehicles running brilliantly today! 

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Things you don't see everyday

Plymouth continues to be a good source of interest for the bus enthusiast. Though initially it may seem that Darts is all there is to see (or should I say Volvo B6s these days!), Plymouth always manages to come up with a few interesting things for the enthusiast. Two things were of particular interest on Thursday last week while I was passing through. 

Firstly is this Mercedes 709, N284 PDV. It is becoming increasingly rare to see 709s in the city today, you will go days without seeing one out in service, but if you're lucky one will show its face. The usual haunt for them is/was the 45s or 59s across the moor, but amazingly, N284 was being used on core route 42 to Tamerton! The Enviro 200s were bought new to do the 40/1/2 but have found their way onto 5/A competing with First in recent months. This has meant the route largely returned to Step Dart operation, though the influx of the Wright bodied Darts have meant some regular form of low floor has been restored. How N284 had escaped onto here I really don't know, but it was great to see! I found it in time to hopefully get a trip on her, but unfortunately on the driver changeover the driver announced he was going to ring up the depot to ask for another bus! I was disheartened to say the least. Maybe it was simply that he didn't have the correct licence to drive the 709 (though I thought PCB train all their drivers to manual level?). It seemed more to be his worry on capacity issues for the route. It was a real shame as I'm sure it would have easily coped until the evening peak at around 5, and been more economical for day operation too! 

Another bus of interest was this beast! Tally Ho's Leyland Tiger G782 YAE. What a gorgeous sounding bus this is. No doubt the bus is today relegated to school contract work, but it was great to see the bus out doing some private hire on Thursday afternoon. She gave plenty of 'clag' on start-up and roared away sounding very tuneful! 

Sunday 28 November 2010

Snap on Sunday: Snowy snaps!

Well with the snow very much evident over Cornwall yesterday I thought it best to post a couple of these shots. Amazingly a majority of the snow stayed put the whole day in the Truro area and provided me with some good opportunities. The photo of the 150 was in fact taken around 4pm! Really shows how cold it was, I could hardly hold the camera steady! Though the hardest part was getting my ticket out after standing around for half an hour, how ever pathetic it may sound! 

A full set of photos are available on my Flickr :

Saturday 27 November 2010

Final day of the 40

First Devon and Cornwall's service 40 (Threemilestone to Camborne) ceased operation today after many years with the company. Of course this was one of the routes that was inherited from Western National, where I am told they used to carry loads requiring VR operation. Well times have changed and the staple diet of the 40 has been reduced to Dennis Dart MPDs. Though through the reduction in the tender revenue they receive they have decided to give it up and place it into the hands of Western Greyhound who will start the route on Monday as their 540. 

This was the first time I've done the 40, and its quite an interesting little route, passing through many sleepy villages. The bad weather made the journey even more interesting with the Dart slipping and sliding in several places along the way making it that bit more exciting. The route does take forever to travel very little distance though. In the time the 14/18 take around 30-40 minutes to get from Threemilestone to Camborne, whereas the 40 takes a shade under 1 hour, 40 minutes. Good luck to WGL in their running of it from Monday, who knows, we may see the VR conquer the route once again!

Thursday 25 November 2010

On the 'Wright' route

The Wright body is becoming more and more prominent within the city with the Tavylinx B6s being revamped, the 'new' Dart chassised ones for Plymouth Citybus, and the fact that now S reg Darts and the Volvo B7s are dwindling, other 'standard' B6s are finding themselves doing all sorts of duties. 

Royal Parade today showed off two of the best examples, these being one of PCB's new Darts, looking very smart, and the most recent Tavylinx bus to come into service in the new livery, bringing the total to 4. As you will see this one 'XFF 283' - 40581, has had the addition of a white/silver grill, while the other 2 retain black grills. I must admit I really do prefer this silver grill, just a small touch that leaves a much higher quality look. 

The first of the new Tavylinx - 40583, had actually, strangely, escaped onto 48s today! This seems somewhat strange unless this is built into the new workings for the Tavy routes? Wembury though has gone from getting the cast-offs to the top quality buses! Are they trying to entice people on for a final push!

Sunday 21 November 2010

Snap on Sunday - Christmas is coming!

Well the lights have gone on in Plymouth City Centre and are once again lighting Royal Parade, but in a somewhat underwhelming fashion. The only lights are the ones in the middle. Usually all the trees are covered as well, but this year only a couple are draped with fairy lights, but not to worry!  

Its a shame the photo below didn't turn out better as the driver had the blind nicely set to 'Merry Christmas'. Unfortunately at the point you could actually see the blind the bus was already out of shot! I also tried to go for a 'Coca Cola' type shot with Plymouth Citybus lineup instead of trucks, again this didn't really pay off yesterday, but hopefully there will be another opportunity. 

Saturday 20 November 2010

A182 hits the road

The new coach at A-Line hit the road for the first time on Wednesday working the Torpoint school contracts. As luck would have it I finished early on Wednesday and therefore was able to pursuit a quick trip aboard the new bus on the dead trip back to the depot in Millbrook. It must be said, I can really see what Cuffy means, this is a fantastic B10M! Really decent amount of power under the floor whisked her up the hill from Cremyll effortlessly. The coach really is a dream to ride on as well as to drive I've been assured. The gearbox is still pretty good and as afore mentioned, the interior is second to none. I have therefore taken the liberty of enabling you to listen to the delights of the vehicle on her first day of service at A-Line! 

Friday 19 November 2010

Tamar Belle is back

The Tamar Belle is back on the Cremyll Ferry for another winter season, taking over the Northern Belle on Wednesday. Nothing much has changed on the boat in the last year, so nothing to report there, but the boat is now for sale! That's right, you can now own the Tamar Belle for £90'000. She is for sale on the following link ( if you're interested! It does give some interesting technical information. So who knows, this may be the TB's last year on the ferry, we'll have to wait and see! 

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Turning back the clock

CrossCountry trains have recently updated the fleet numbers on their HSTs by adding an extra one onto the front. This is much like BR used to do back when they were brand new with '253' class fleet numbers! Quite a nice little touch, though its a shame the public will have now idea of the importance! Well done XC!  

Monday 15 November 2010

Snap on Sunday (On Monday

Firstly I better apologise for the lateness of this post, and indeed of the lack of posts throughout the last week! Usual excuse, A-Levels! I'm yet to finish my Physics Evaluation Paper yet so just a quick post for tonight. Taken on Saturday this was taken coming through Laira on a Crosscountry HST with Louis after completing a day of filming at Exeter St Davids for a competition which I will post about later in the week. The sky was perfect for this shot, beaming down onto the HST, much better than a Voyager, indeed this photo wouldn't have even been possible if this had been the case for the journey home! 

Tuesday 9 November 2010

A new coach at A-Line

Now I must admit, this one is quite a beast! Behind this modern looking Van Hool bodywork is in fact A182 MNE, a 1984 Volvo B10M! I've always thought Van Hools, whatever the age, always look really modern. The bus may be some 26 years old, but you would never think so. 

As is quite obvious this is the second bus that has come to A-Line via Roselyn of Par. Though the vehicle started off life as a batch of 39 similar vehicles (half were Leyland Tigers the other half were B10Ms), at Smiths, who carried out coach work for Sherings. She was painted in a Smiths/Sherings livery until she was moved on. Interestingly the coach is listed as having 9 owners over its life. We could only think that it may have been passed round another subsidiaries of Sherings, or swapped between Roselyn and Girlings? 

Whatever the story is behind her, she is certainly in very good condition, with a near new interior fitted. The toilet and middle door/staircase have been covered up and replaced with some extra seating, making this a 57 seater. When new she was listed as only a C49 (in other words 8 seats have been added). 

Both the Scania Van Hool and the E reg Volvo B10M are now withdrawn and off the road stuffed down in the back of the depot along with Mercedes 709, M152 LPL, or 'Milly' as I always referred to her as. The A reg will take over as the spare bus, though driver Derrick Cuff, has promised me his first preferrence will be the A reg for his duties! He even described the coach as 'The best coach I've ever driven'. For me, I'm yet to ride on her but hopefully it will be soon!