Monday, 4 August 2014

Return to the region!

Hello and welcome back once again to PTOTPA, and to hopefully what will now become fairly regular blogging! For those who don't know, I'm now back in the area full time, and commenced employment with Plymouth Citybus around a month ago now. As part of my Transport and Logistics Management degree, we have the option to do an official year out in industry to boost our degree classification, and of course to gain valuable experience in a real job, applying all the theory we've learnt up until now. Richard Stevens has been very kind in taking me on for the year, and the opportunity laid out in front of me sounds truly fantastic! Unlike what other operators had offered me for the year, PCB has in essence given me the 'freedom of the depot' to work in a whole host of departments throughout the year, rather than just being stuck in one position and told to get on with it. 

Within my first month I have completed the driver training course, and am now a fully qualified driver ready to go out on the road from tomorrow. It's been an extremely exciting first month, finally fulfilling a lifelong dream of driving a bus on the public highway, and already I've gained huge appreciation for what bus drivers do every day, it's certainly not easy! The sheer amount of forward thinking and planning involved in threading a 40ft vehicle through a busy town, or even a quite suburb is quite remarkable; you can't just react to developing situations like you can in a car; every eventuality must be anticipated to avoid any mishaps! It's also of course far more than just the driving, and indeed understandably, the new recruits are made very aware that this is becoming more and more of a customer service industry, not just a tool for movement. So on top of driving, all new driving employees go through extensive customer service training and disability awareness, as well as other essentials for the job such as ticket machine training (absolutely mindboggling!), and of course, route learning! Learning some 30 routes before being let loose in service is no mean feat. Luckily of course I'm at a huge advantage having ridden on a majority of Plymouth's routes more times than I care to think, but for people new to Plymouth, or even native Plymothians, remembering that quantity is certainly a test. Thankfully all new drivers are sent out with a mentor for their first week of driving which is a chance to re-cap quite a few of the routes to hopefully avoid any errors when they're sent out alone. The driver training team I have to say are absolutely excellent at what they do, all very passionate and enthusiastic individuals (practically all of which have come out of the services!) who really identify issues and mould their teaching around individual's needs. After my 'mentor week' this week I go solo in service on Tuesday 12th which happens to co-inside with the British National Firework Championships, and I'm on a late shift! That's certainly going to be a baptism of fire! I'll then be out in service for the next 2-3 months to gain a decent appreciation for the job before moving on into other sectors of the business including operations, commercial, engineering, and schedualling, as well as others on top of that no doubt. An incredibly exciting year ahead! 

My first solo drive though came yesterday when I was allowed behind the wheel of 'Red Flash' Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 WF63 LYR to take her up to the Hoe for WNPG's annual Plymouth Rally. Another brilliant day, helped very much by good weather! With kind permission of Richard Smith, here I am (that feels strange to say, I'm normally the one behind the camera!) departing the rally to head back to Milehouse. (Top photo with thanks to Kameron Allan)


Anonymous said...

Well done, Laurence. It's a great responsibility, driving a bus. And, it sounds like a great opportunity getting real work experience at CityBus, to complement your studies at Huddersfield.

Do make sure that keep up your membership of the Chartered Institute of Logsitcs and Transport - you will be in good company, with many professionals throughout the industry, to help progress your career.

Best wishes, Peter Murnaghan

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting as far as you have done, I hope Citybus give you all the experience and training you need in order to progress in the future!

Something that may take your interest whilst you have been away is the battle between First and PCB between Plymouth and Tavistock, this competition is now been raised with First bringing in brand new 14 plate buses in Early September!

Anonymous said...

Haha I seen you running the 8 service to Efford and Laira driving a trident old livery. You were the nicest driver I've ever met. Congratulations on your job :-)

Anonymous said...

^^^^^^ This was on Fireworks night :-)

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