Monday, 28 November 2011

Pear Shaped

That's the best way to describe tonight's traffic!

We sensed trouble at the end of this morning's peak, when they erected temporary traffic lights at the White Swan in Mansbridge (on the A27 a mile or so south of Parkway station, on Velvet A between Eastleigh and Hedge End).

However, we had no serious problems until a casual glance at GreenRoad revealed that the 1610 from Eastleigh to Hedge End was not where it should be! Due at West End at 1629, yet at 1655 it was still in Mansbridge, and ended up about 40 minutes late.

That was just the start! After that, a reported accident on the roundabout at junction 5 (thereby obstructing both main routes south of Eastleigh) and no doubt the onset of bad weather, and the south side of Eastleigh just stopped.

Luckily, the usual flexibility from our brilliant team of drivers meant that everyone disregarded their scheduled duties and covered whatever they needed to cover, with the result that every journey left its start point on time, even if it got comically late along the way!

The 1610 from Eastleigh should come back empty, to refuel and form the 1740 A. The 1640 from Eastleigh should come back as the 1714 from Hedge End (Heath House Lane). The 1710 from Eastleigh finishes at Hedge End and comes back empty to depot and the 1740 comes back as the 1814.

Today, the 1610 arrived just in time to form the 1714 back from Hedge End. This of course meant no cover for the 1740 from Eastleigh, but Controller Karl stepped in to do that.

Normally, the 1714 runs on to the 1820 C1 but that wasn't going to happen, so the 1820 fell to me.

Meanwhile, the 1640 from Eastleigh took around an hour to reach Parkway station and eventually made it through the roadworks 55 minutes late, meaning that it arrived in Hedge End just in time to make the 1814 service back - an hour later than the trip it was supposed to do! At one stage on the outbound journey it was stationary for so long in Southampton Road that GreenRoad concluded it had parked up for the night!

The 1710 is one of two buses that we can't currently track so that disappeared into a big black hole (or maybe a big orange hole) after turning left out of Eastleigh bus station and was next seen back in the yard just over two hours later, while the 1740 from Eastleigh (Karl) eventually got to Hedge End around one hour late.

Meanwhile, the normally excellent ROMANSE was being unusually coy and would only refer to traffic being "slow southbound towards M27 junction 5", which we felt rather understated the issue - although they did later admit to the accident on junction 5 roundabout.

We'll wait with interest to see what happens in tomorrow morning's peak! Extra bodies are on standby, just in case!

A more exciting feature of tomorrow's agenda is my annual trip to London to the UK Bus Awards ceremony, where once again I am delighted to be a guest of our excellent insurance brokers Belmont International.

All a bit frustrating this year though, because I had fully intended to enter in a few a categories, but the entry deadline coincided with an obscenely busy period, on the weekend of our June service change while also preparing for various special events (IW Festival, Glastonbury etc) for which we were contracted, and I just ran out of time to prepare the entries! Mind you, I suppose it's arguable that a company that can't manage to meet a deadline doesn't really deserve too many awards, but hopefully I'll have my proverbial ducks in more of an orderly row in time for next year's awards.

Whatever happens, best of luck to all those in the running for the various gongs - I'm sure all will be worthy winners.

Apart from the fact that we know we're not going to win anything, the only other disappointment is an unfortunate diary clash that means I will have to miss out on the traditional post-lunch socialising that usually lasts well into the night (and beyond) in the company of great people, as I have to be back in Eastleigh for an early evening meeting.

It's all in a good cause though, because it's the annual opportunity for Eastleigh Borough Council members to scrutinise the performance of public transport in the borough, and as part of that to question the operators on any matters they consider to be of interest.

Eastleigh has no statutory obligation to support its public transport yet in practice it is highly proactive and takes a significant interest in the transport offer, both in terms of financial support and working together with operators to promote innovation and good practice. Its members deserve our full attention to any concerns they wish to raise, and I always look forward to hearing their views.

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