Wednesday 30 January 2013

A - Lucky Escape

It is quite frankly my pleasure to report that after this potentially horrific accident, all involved have come out the other side completely unscathed - all except one little fighter. The wreckage you see before you is of poor old 'Bertie' the Vario, of A-Line Coaches, the stalwart of Route 80 for the last 4 1/2 years. 

I'm sure for many of the you the name Paul Burch of the PCTPG will ring a bell, and it was this man that had the misfortune to be driving R651 YCR just as a substantial tree gave way on Maker Lane yesterday evening, crushing the UVG body into a cripple. Quite frankly how Paul managed to escape with but a small cut to his hand from the shattering windscreen completely evades me, when you consider the area of the bus the tree actually hit. It surely must have been inches away from causing frightening consequences - thank god, somehow he managed to come out the other side laughing. And indeed also quite amazingly, joking about how thankful he was that Ex Plymouth Citybus Mercedes 709D N276 PDV had been taken off the service just hours before, and that she had been saved from the accident. To add, there were also thankfully no passengers travelling aboard R651 YCR at the time of the incident, largely thanks most likely to the fact that the last Cremyll Ferry had already departed, reducing demand for travelers to Cremyll just at the point that it mattered.

As is quite plain to see, R651 YCR will not be returning to the road, having sustained a lot of damage not only cosmetically, but also undoubtedly structurally as well. From the photo there appears to be a lot of damage to the nearside, and the platform, as well as the whole bonnet section, and the predominant split right down the middle of the roof/blind box area. I wish I could say it was a sad end for the bus, but despite the hundreds, if not thousands of miles I've done aboard her, I've never warmed to her. As has often been remarked, the somewhat boxy and ugly UVG bodywork did her no favors, along with being a constant source of problems for all involved at A-Line. She's seen a lot of change over her 4 short years in service though, but I can't say she's really truly earned her keep over the years. Still on wards and upwards, I have reports of a Mercedes 811D arriving at A-Line this weekend to take up R651 YCR's space in the depot. 

My thoughts are with Paul after what must have been an incident that would shaken even the most hardy of drivers; very thankful indeed that he is still here to tell the story, where other incidents of a very similar nature have indeed resulted in dire consequences  My thanks go to Derrick Cuff for the photo. 

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Tavi with Trev!

With many thanks to Tom Pearce I can bring you this photo of Jackett's Coaches Dart, BX54 DLF, out operating on the very first day of the new service 85. For any of those who don't know, Jackett's have taken to the A386 to provide a link between Plymouth and Tavistock, following vaguely the same route as First Devon and Cornwall's 86, excluding the 'branches' to Derriford Hospital and into Woolwell, giving Jackett's 85 a competitive 53 minute journey time, versus 1hr 4minutes on the 86; but remains 4 minutes slower than the 83, not that this amount of time will really be noticed by anyone! Being under the full hour enables the 85 to run a bi-hourly service from 7 in the morning until 6 in the evening, very well timed both for commuters into Plymouth with a 0730 journey from Tavistock, as well as a 0930, ideal to pick up the concessionary fare users. 

Indeed it has been reported that loadings were promising for the route's first day, and no doubt as word spreads, we can hope loadings will be boosted. As has been thoroughly discussed, this is a brave, commercial venture by a relatively new company, but certainly a worthy one. For years First has well and truly held the monopoly on Tavistock services, with fares abnormally high for the distance involved, so Jackett's £5 return will likely be attractive, but only I'd presume to the occasional user. First of course offer their 'Tavi Linx Week' ticket, at £26.50, so presuming workers are travelling 5 days a week, an extra £1.50 seems worth it for the added convenience of 8 times the amount of buses during the day, as well as use of the town service 89 on arrival in Tavistock. I'd expect therefore, shoppers and occasional users will be the main users of the 85, attracted in by a noticeable decrease in what they're used to paying. This does of course rely on their day being fairly well planned though, else you may face quite a long wait!  

Sunday 6 January 2013

Snap on Sunday

The Volvo Olympian it is safe to say is quite a dying breed within Stagecoach South West today, with this week's SoS being of the final example to still be running in Torbay; the honor going to R137 EVX. This is after quite a comeback during the summer of the type within the Bay, during the London 2012 Games, which saw the then brand new Scania powered Enviro 400s move to Exeter, to cover for the various batches of ADL Enviros that headed East to transport the masses. Since then the Olympians have been slowly dwindling away not only from Torbay, but also Exeter, with only very small numbers still left in operation. Quite a different picture when you consider the numbers of K reg Leyland Olympians with First have increased by 50% within FDC! 

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Brown in Bretonside

No sooner do Plymouth City Council splash what I considered (even if no one else agreed with me!) a welcome bit of colour around Bretonside Bus Station, they decide to take it away again, and adorn the pillars with paint somewhat resembling GWR Chocolate Brown! Really not quite sure what possessed them to do this! It's not unattractive, but it's just so dull! At least the multicolours were a bit uplifting...

It certainly all feels a bit more alive down there though, with the re-introduction of Western Greyhound's services to Bretonside, as well as the increase in First buses fighting on the Ivybridge corridor, with the 88 leaving from Bretonside every half hour, on top of the X80 and 180. The lack of buses had made Bretonside feel even more baron, but the vibrancy of operators has at least revitalised it a bit!