Saturday, 14 January 2017
Wonderful Weekend One (?)
As Lady Bracknell nearly said (in "The Importance of Being Ernest") “To lose one depot, Mr. Fearnley, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.”
Generally, bus operators are not renowned for losing their depots; selling, yes; demolishing, yes; conflagration, yes; loss of lease, yes. But suddenly finding you haven't got a depot you thought you had is, to say the least, trying!
First Bristol's staff newsletter duly reported:-
Just after 2115 on Tuesday night (10 Jan) the Radio Room received a call from the Police to say that due to a “Police Incident involving a fatality” they had closed to whole length of Hengrove Way ...
... including Roman Way, to all traffic and that in consequence our depot was inaccessible not just to buses and cars but to people as well.
As an aside, a search on Google Maps reveals that Roman Way ...
... is a quiet residential road near Brislington Station on the north banks of the river Avon and nowhere near Hengrove depot which is located on Roman Farm Road.
But the piece was penned by big bus boss James Freemen, and, under the circumstances it is probably asking too much to expect the head honcho to remember where his depots are!
You can imagine his consternation, as we started to realise the consequences of this closure on drivers finishing their shifts and others starting theirs, as well as the routine work of the depot.
What followed, between then and 0345 on Wednesday morning, when the Police re-opened Roman Way was an amazing piece of teamwork across the business involving, naturally, Hengrove staff but also reinforcements from Lawrence Hill, Bath and Weston.
(i.e. other First Depots in the area)
The first task was to line up the incoming buses in Hengrove Way, which we turned into a makeshift bus park—the police facilitated this. Then we had to help people (who couldn't access their cars, of course) to get home. That’s when you realise how scattered our workforce is! Then we had to try to unite people working overnight with buses to use on those services.
Before long we had amassed 30-40 buses (60 at its maximum).
The next question was fuelling. So we had to make arrangements to take the buses across to Lawrence Hill. Each shunt takes over 30 minutes, so this is no minor task in itself.
Thanks to a wonderful team effort, we managed it, so that by the time we got the depot back the buses could run more or less as normal.
But to Lose Two ...
Just two days later another fatal accident occurred which closed Bath depot.
This time all buses were safely tucked away for the night, but there was no access for staff on the morning shift and no means of getting buses out on service.
With the help of buses from neighbouring depots a very sparse service was operated through the morning peak. This is an extract of the situation at about 0930.
Fortunately, by about 1100 things were getting back to normal. Other operators had stepped in to help where they could apart from Wessex Bus who refused to accept First tickets on their competing and parallel routes.
An understandable, if explained with a lack of literacy, decision considering the mutual venom exuding from both companies; but still a bit mean.
But you have to wonder whether it is really necessary to be so draconian in keeping everything clinically clear after an accident. Surely essential services should be allowed access? What would have happened if the tragic fatality had taken place outside a fire station?
Who would be a bus manager, eh?
Thanks to our Bristol correspondent and First Bus for forwarding the information to the busy newsdesk at fbb mansions.
Expensive Exhibition Expedition?
rear of fbb mansions as forewarned by the Daily Express
Mrs fbb (top) searching for the car?
Today, snowdrifts permitting, fbb is off to a Model Railway Exhibition at Beaminster.
It is run by the good folk of Bridport Model Railway Club. fbb hopes that he can afford the admission!