Feb. 28th, 2010

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I've been extremly busy with many things over the last 12 days since my previous LJ post.

Wednesday 17th February was quiet at home.

Thursday 18th February was an afternoon out. Caroline had the afternoon off work, for an evening social with LLGS Womens Group. So, we travelled into London, dropped off a package for Malc, before continuing to the West End to get some new jeans at Evans for me (as well as some shoes!), partially following Tesco no longer stocking the sizes that they used to (except online). From there, we had dinner at Pizza Express, before continuing to Elephant & Castle by taxi (a gap in the 148's in lashing rain!). While the rain deterred some, we had coffee before browsing an exhibition "Another Side Of The Rainbow", placed in the shopping centre for LGBT History Month. We then continued by Tube to Angel, before going for a couple in The Castle (pub in Islington), back to Kings Cross, then home by train.

Friday 19th February was in Cambridge, doing a day on the PFH, before back home via The Grafton.

Saturday 20th February, first of all, was subject to railway engineering work between Hitchin and Stevenage, so I decided to avoid this by getting C to drop me off at Whittlesford Parkway, taking the National Express East Anglia Cambridge – London Liverpool Street line. Bonus – a new route for me! On the outward journey, I took the train to Tottenham Hale, before changing there onto the Victoria tube line. I was heading to a building near Victoria, for an away day organised by the Womens Group of LLGS. It wasn't work, it wasn't a social, but a mix of both. Additionally, I am now one of the four co-ordinators (below the two co-chairs) of the group, voted in on the day. From there, a couple in an adjacent pub, before I took bus 11 home from Westminster to Liverpool Street, changing there for a train to Whittlesford Parkway.

Sunday 21st February was a day at home.

Monday 22nd February was an essential day out. However, a couple of snags before I got the chance to get out the door! Snow had fallen, quite a bit of it, which naturally needed attention. Secondly, the weekend railway engineering work on the First Capital Connect Great Northern line had over-ran, so my plan of getting an early morning train to Stevenage turned into a train to Hitchin, then a coach belonging to Hamilton's of Uxbridge to Stevenage railway station. The coach was nice enough, but naturally extended the journey time somewhat, before joining slow traffic on the M1, and (minimal) roadworks through Coreys Mill to Stevenage. From there, the journey plan started to slip. I had intended to change there to the 635/634 uno bus to Hemel Hempstead fast, but no. Took Enviro 3550 on the Arriva SB8 to the Bus Station, had breakfast before going for 3562 on the 301. We started losing more time, and were told to turn short at St Albans, instead of continuing to Hemel. However, it got worse before it got better. The virtually new bus was struggling in the snow, up and down hills, and with other slow moving traffic. We were 41 minutes late at Welwyn Garden City bus station, 69 minutes late at Hatfield railway station, but by then the roads were starting to improve, and less hills to negotiate, so we ended up 62 minutes late at St Albans. The first bus that was taking me close to my plan was a 321 to Watford, so piled on Mercedes Citaro 3562 for a good run to Watford Town Centre. From there, early lunch (!!!) before continuing on Tiger A12 WTN of Woottens/Tiger Line on the T2 to Hemel via Cassiobury Estate and Kings Langley, Arriva Dart 3500 on the 550 back to Watford Junction via Nash Mils and Cassio Campus, Arriva green Solo 2492 on the W30 to Watford town centre, then Woottens/Tiger Line A15 WTN on the T1 back to Hemel via Cassiobury and KL again, before taking uno Scania 352 fast back to Stevenage via the M10, Hatfield and A1[M] on the 634, which continues as a 635 to Stevenage railway station. Train back was also delayed, but only by around 20 minutes. The one day where I had to go out... anyway, you can see the pictures here.

Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th February at home.

Thursday 25th February was an evening out working at Switchboard. So, a quiet day in, before travelling into London against-the-peak-flow and having a few hours on the phones before coming home. Made the last train before the engineering work rendered everything turning back (from both directions) at Hitchin.

Friday 26th February I felt a little tired and under-the-weather, so stayed in.

Saturday 27th February was a day out and about, with shopping. Feeling a little better (but very tired at the end), we went from home to Stevenage via the A10 and A602 for lunch at Toby, before stopping for some items of clothing on special at Sainsbury's. continuing back up the A1, A505 and then onto the A10 north as far as Shepreth, picking our way through Haslingfield to Barton. Couldn't find any shoes suitable in a wide-ranging store, but we were planning to go into Cambridge retail park anyway. Found a few things in Evans (but less than purchased in Sainsbury's) before back home via Staples. 100 miles done in the car in the day, and tired but happy at the end!

Sunday 28th February is a quiet day, catching up. It is also our 35 month anniversary today (another reason for going out y'day!) We always celebrate it somehow, but now we are at the 35 month mark of our relationship, 31st March sees three years, or 36 months, together. We'll see what happens that day!

Additionally, on my last post, I made a closing reference to some extra good news. With a bit of luck, I'll be able to tell all this coming week.

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Right, in no particular order, starting around Dundee, Perth, back to Dundee, Cambridge and the shire, and onto Norfolk.

1. Firstly, earlier in the month, DundeeBuses.info is one! Remember last year I compiled a list of downloadable timetables, simple and whenever you needed it? Well, in the first year, 24,504 visits and an average of 199 per day (see some stats from the first year here) – wonderful news, showing it was certainly needed. Indeed, since January, the website has experienced an interesting spike upwards with visitors – just glad that I could be of help, well over 24 thousand times!

2. Remember Bankfoot Buses hired Max Clifford to repair their shattered image? What, with photocopied operator licence discs and ex-Ensignbus (bus dealer) Darts proclaiming to be “Stagcoach”, you'd have wondered why. Anyway, having worked through the Scottish TC and onto the internal VOSA appeal, they ended up disqualified indefinitely, still with a fine, and Transport Scotland are questioning over fraudulent free concession pass reimbursement claims. Well, as I said, they had one last shot – an appeal to The Upper Tribunal, formerly The Transport Tribunal. I'm not going to quote the full chapter and verse on this one, but it's for all to see at this link, with the full version downloadable here. Basically, it's still no, they've upheld the decision of the Deputy Traffic Commissioner. The decision of the Upper Tribunal states: “With regard to disqualification, we are not surprised that the Deputy Traffic Commissioner considered this a necessary addition to the revocations since the various deliberate instances of defiance of law and good practice were blatant and pre-meditated.  There is no place in the industry for those who attempt to deceive Traffic Commissioners at public inquiry, including involving the forgery of an ‘O’ licence disc.”

 

3. Talking of the Traffic Commissioner, Fishers Tours were in hot water following some issues with the Scottish Express services last year. I mentioned in this post, and this post, the background and a follow-up correction. Well, subsequently, the operator have appealed to VOSA against the penalty, and been allowed to continue until the appeal is held – probably March. The operator have added a note of this to their website (which was the first word about it) as well as taking out press advertising.

 

 

4. Cambridge's Guided Busway. I have to mention it, seeing as everyone else does. No announcement of a revised opening date. It looks like the delays might well be caused by a series of contractor rows and further strops over money (remember where you read it first!) As such, the council is taking out loans to cover the increased cost, but intend to claim it back from the contractor. (Just a thought, but does this mean the integrated smartcard ticketing and the southern section might be ready at the same time as the top bit?)

4A. In an interesting side, the Stagecoach vehicles had said (for almost a year) “I'll be on The Busway soon, will you”. They've now been changed (apparently with the approval of the council!) to say “Will I be on The Busway soon?” Stagecoach Cambridgeshire Managing director Andy Campbell told the Cambridge Evening News: "When we got these buses 12 months ago we were told the busway would be open in the late summer, so we decided to put these adverts on to encourage people to see what was coming in the near future. "Those adverts have now been on the buses for a year and it’s not realistic to the keep the same message. "We’ve got no indication of when the guideway is going to open so we decided to change the message in a light-hearted way."  A council spokesman said: "Stagecoach shared their plans to reword the slogan on their buses with us at a recent meeting. "Obviously we share their frustration at the ongoing delay in opening the busway, but Stagecoach, the public and ourselves are entirely in the hands of the contractor BAM Nuttall as to when they complete works and the service can open."

 

5. Some of the changes registered by Stagecoach in Cambridgeshire (that were postponed late last year, blaming The Busway and waiting for new vehicles) have been registered again, to take effect in April. Stagecoach Cambridge are then expecting 50 new double-deck buses which will run on biofuel. It is then understood that some of the displaced buses will end up in Peterborough – apparently they do not have space for a biofuel tank at their depot. The Cambridge citi network is to be relaunched then, but it is understood that some cuts will be brought in beside the bigger buses. I know the Royston 26/27 is changing on one journey by five minutes, but the rest of the network changes are to follow. With regards to the February changes, some minor bits and last-minute twists were made, although some escaped the radar. One interesting service-change-related twist was the relocation of the almost two year old Enviro200's from Peterborough's citi7 to Cambridge, where they are being used on the citi2 mostly.

6. Norfolk Green are planning to introduce their Summer timetables from 2nd April. I mention this because it follows up with several posts I've made recently.Cut here for the rest of the Norfolk Green changes. )

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