Saturday, 27 May 2017

Weymouth Wanderings (3)

Confusing via Crossways
When fbb wrote about forthcoming changes at Weymouth, he referred to the innovative service 5 to Dorchester via Crossways.
But, as often happens (the key phrase these days is that it is "age related"!) fbb opened his laptop and put his foot in it.
In actual fact Damory's service 101 is still running, approximately every hour and supported by Dorset County Council! It will continue to run until the contract runs out later this year. First would then take over with its 5, but commercially with a dribble of support for carrying school kiddies to and from Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester. But, for practical reasons First decided to start the 5 early to match their summer season start date.

So currently, the residents of Crossways, West Knighton and Broadmayne have TWO hourly services into the county town.

The section from Weymouth through Warmwell has not had a proper bus service for many years, so this is completely new.

So having enjoyed a break, some refreshment and a necessitous PNB, fbb tottered round to Kings Statue stop K1 ...
... to join the 1435 departure to ride  all the way. The only evidence for the 5 was via Dorset County's electronic screens.
The stop is shared with service 4 to Preston, running every 20 minutes.
Three passengers plus fbb boarded, all on OAP passes. Not bad, thought your author, for only the fourth day of operation and at a quiet time of day.

In conversation with fbb, one gent explained thet he could use the 4, but felt that new services "needed a bit of help or they won't last". 

A couple were returning to Seaview Holiday Park ...
... but were advised by the driver of the 1440 service 4 that the 5 would be better as the park was a couple of stops beyond the end point of the 4 (near Preston Spar).
Unfortunately they missed the stop completely, but fbb was able to advise that there would be a 5 back towards Weymouth after a not-too-long a wait.
Thereafter, and once again, fbb was left alone for another taxi ride. The vehicle was WX06 OML ...
... having operated previously in Southampton ...
... and before that in Bristol.
The bus was fitted with First's patent vibro-massage which operated vehemently when the engine was idling. Apart from that, fbb's ride was pleasant and uneventful all the way to Warmwell. But at the Holiday Park (a k a Chalet Site) ...
... excitement nearly overwhelmed your chubby and, by now weary author. The bus pulled into the the reception area ...
... gyrated round the roundabout and stopped at a shiny stop by the phone box; Where, -- wait for it -- a passenger boarded. He showed his return ticket, paid for earlier with money (!) and settled down for his ride home.

That was until he realised he was going the wrong way. He wanted Weymouth and not Dorchester. Just as he rushed forward to alight, his bus home (showing a helpful 4A) passed at speed in the opposite direction.

Whoops - another hour to wait.

From there into Dorchester, fbb was the lone stranger on the bus.

The villages of Warmwell ...
... West Knighton ...
... and Broadmayne ...
... had a significant sprinkling of bucolic beauty and quirky quaintness. This was virgin territory for fbb and most enjoyable; a route positively recommended by the chubby one.

As a more modern "dormitory" development, Crossways was less attractive to the eye, but mystifying to the bus rider, as we shall see tomorrow.
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Tram Trouble in Nottingham
That tram should not be on the pavement!

One of the forums provided this photo after the event.
Nottingham Express Transit reported that a tram has become derailed whilst moving slowly. There were no passengers on board. This suggest that a "light" tram was reversing at the crosover when something went wrong; possible the points had not locked into place and a blade moved as the tram crossed over.

The derailment occurred at 1530 and all was clear and working normally by 2140 in the evening. The tram moved away under its own power.
Looks a bit like problem on fbb's model railway; bit a bit bigger and no giant hand to lift the wheels back on the track.

Thanks to Sheffield correspondent Roy for sending the links.
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 Next Crossways blog : Sunday 28th May 

Friday, 26 May 2017

Weymouth Wanderings (2)

It Will Be Better When It's Finished?
Why might a customer want to ride the SlowCoaster rather than the scheduled X53? A collegue opines that they would be guaranteed a double deck bus, whereas the X53 occasionally suffers from single deckers, this deleting the views for which the route is famous. The 510 lingers for a few minutes at Abbotsbury viewpoint ...
... which failed to deliver for fbb on Tuesday last. In amongst the sea mist you can just pick out the lagoon that lies behind Chesil Beach. It should look like this:-
Before the viewpoint view, you could also have an extended route in West Bay. Instead of turning at "The George" like the X53 ...
... you can be whisked a whole quarter of a mile further on.
You will pass a line of fast food outlets (Baboo Gelato? yummy?) and turn at the next roundabout ...
... with view of the boats in the harbour, more chip shops and some modern and expensive flats.
After the Abbotsbury viewpoint (see yesterdays blog) and before the picturesque Abbotsbury Village, the route diverts to the Tropical Gardens down a road too narrow for two buses to pass. They are timetable not to, but the outward run was late so fbb's cordial chauffeur waited at the end for his colleague to re-appear.
fbb has it from the horse's mouth, namely the genial Simon Newport, First's boss at Weymouth, that the 510 experience is, as yet, incomplete. To go with the cove adverts ...
... and the Broadchurch-type cliff on the stairs ...
... the two liveried buses are due to be equipped with PA and a commentary.

For day visitors and longer stay tourists, that may well prove an attraction to draw them off the X53. The other bargain is the group fare for up to five people (no age restrictions).
At less than £4 A DAY for five adults this represents ludicrously good value for money - even for five OAPs. Childrens fares are about ⅔ of adult, so parents and three kiddies still do very well indeed. The ticket is, of course, valid on the X53.
The current schooldays timetable (click on the graphic to enlarge), with only two return journeys Monday to Friday, is a bit limiting if you want to stop off anywhere; but again the good old X53 comes to the rescue for most destinations.

The 510 calls at three off-route Holiday Parks. Bagwell Farm is in the middle of nowhere and provides the spectacle of holding on tight, closing the eyes, waiting for the crunch etc. as the driver wrestles with a fifteen point turn outside the office.
The bus turns right at the grey crossroads, reverses back between the buildings lower left, jiggles backwards and forwards and makes its escape back up the lighter surfaces access road.
For reasons which cannot be revealed here, fbb was unable to experience the dubious delights of East Fleet and Littlesea but Google Street view aerial pictures give a reasonable impression of the sites.
The "tour" ends with a disappointing diversion via the National Sailing Centre with its glorious views.
Indeed, so pointless is this diversion that fbb reckons it would be better to trundle along the esplanade to Bowleaze Cove like the new 500.
Even better, get out the can opener and create "cabriolet" open toppers like First Weston-super-Mud.
In the end, fbb reckons that the company will have to accept OAP passes if it wants to get sufficient posteriors on the rather minimalist seats installed in the elderly Tridents. They (the buses, not the OAPs or their posteriors?) came from Norwich, by the way.
But it is, overall, a brave commercial venture - and the bus industry really needs a bit of speculative bravery to encourage Joe Public to have a ride.

If you are in Weymouth, swallow hard, cough up the cash and enjoy the experience!

Another new route tomorrow.

 Next Weymouth blog : Saturday 27th May 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Weymouth Wanderings (1)

A Grand Day Out By First Bus Mega Taxi!
fbb popped along to Weymouth only a few weeks ago when Mrs fbb was attending a prayer and bible study day at Crossways.

The relevant blog is (here) for those that missed it or wish to refresh their memory.

Of the three brand new services First Wessex introduced on Saturday last, it was possible to enjoy two. The third, seafront open top service 500 ...
... was too tight to schedule. As it happened, fbb could have just about managed at trip from Kings Statue to Bowleaze Cove and back , BUT ...
... it would have left no time for lunch (missable in extremis) or other important bodily functions (definitely unmissable!!!). 
Maybe another time. Perhaps Mrs fbb will join her hubby in a Weymouth Tour?

The day started with "kiss and ride" to Axminster. Yes, the old man could have gone by Ave Valley 885, but was too miserly to shell out the £3.50 fare.
The next bus on the half hourly frequency would, in theory, have made the connection but fbb is nothing if not risk averse. The 0955 was an X51 to Dorchester ...
... only it wasn't - in several ways.

The usefulless departure screens, provided by Devon County Council, hit a new low. Sometimes they are blank, sometimes they say "refer to timetable" but this time they hit plumbed depths of uselessness. There was no mention of the half hourly frequency on First's X51/X53.
fbb's bus, and all the rest, simply did not exist. Neither did the 1040 Buses of Somerset (BoS) service 30 manifest itself electronically at any time. The station booking hall could furnish the excellent Devon County timetable book and First Wessex's summer beauty.
Nothing from BoS. The Devon timetable printouts were all displayed in frames at the stop which rather makes the electronics a waste of space and money.

fbb's bus "wasn't" in another way. Upon arrival at Bridport coach station (bit of concrete and a shelter - lavish!) ...
... all passengers were summarily turfed off as the bus was going no further.
"There might be", our driver told us, "a spare bus if they can find one."

They couldn't.

There were three in the depot yard. fbb walked to the Nationwide stop on West Street and informed two waiting passengers of the unlikelihood of their bus's arrival. They wandered off disconsolately whilst your frustrated author felt nothing but sympathy for any others en route. Despite the wonders of modern science and the hugeness of the resources of First Bus, they would be left in angry suspense for a whole hour.

Of course there were electronic signs at this town centre stop on which the missing X51 appeared and, at 1107 disappeared.
If there was a twit to inform them, it never reached fbb's phone and neither prospective customer was clutching a "device". The solution is simple. Go to computer. Type in "1107 from Bridport". Click "change". Type in "cancelled - breakdown". Click "send to screens".

Except that the system is not set up for such a luxury. It is set up to run with a minimum of human intervention. No doubt Ken Traveline Dorset will send in a comment saying why it cannot happen like that; but fbb has not the slightest doubt that a competent GCSE programer could write the necessary code.

As an aside, it is really good to know that Nationwide West Street Bridport is in Bridport. For a while fbb thought he was in Wigan!

Despite all this, fbb's 510 was clearly signalled and duly appeared, setting down two passengers at "Frosts" ....
... a stop which will have to be renamed due to the demise of the long-standing and well-known Bridport retailer.
Two passengers? Not good for business. But there is a problem with the 510. It largely duplicates the X53 (via West Bay, Abbotsbury etc) ...
... but, unlike the X53, does not accept OAP passes.
So the 1137 X53 left the Nationwide stop packed to the rafters with "oldies" and the 510 left packed with ...

... guess ...

... fbb; who remained the sole passenger all the way to Weymouth. It was worth £6 to be chauffeur driven in a very large yellow double deck taxi with isolationist views from top deck front. 
But it was hardly a profitable round trip for First.

The service is branded ...
... and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It ambles slowly along the X53 route with a few diversions and a four minute stop at Abbotsbury view point ...
... to enjoy the view.

fbb will examine why you might want to use the 510 rather than the X53 in tomorrow's post.

TAILPIECE
fbb's poorly bus used to be based in Manchester. It was branded "Rivvy Rider" (with a very thin gold stripe) ...
... for service 575 between Bolton and Horwich.
Rivvy Rider is perhaps derived from Rivington Pike, a hill near Horwich. The branding was both feeble and short-lived. To serve (or not serve as it turned out!) the good folk of Wessex, the thin gold stripe has been repainted First pink.

 Next Slowcoaster blog : Friday 26th May