Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Launch Before the Launch After The Launch?

Between 1100 and 1300? Or 1040?
fbb wrote about the actual launch a while ago (read again here).

These "dos" vary in quality as the nosh and goodies also vary in quality, but the aim is to inform and enthuse stakeholders and maybe get a bit of positive publicity in the local rags. As a loyal supporter of First Bus (yeah right!), the old man received his decal edged invitation card on a silver salver delivered by the fbb mansion's chief butler.

OK it came in an email!

So how did it go yesterday?
The journey was straightforward enough with the alarm set a little earlier than usual and a kiss'n'ride from Mrs fbb with plenty of time to buy the tickets - six of them!

Although fbb has never, personally, experienced this weirdness before, he has, like rumours of the Indian Rope Trick ...
... heard tell of those that have. The Ticketista at Axminster did indeed issue fbb with six tickets, three for the outward trip and three for the return.
 Total return fare with SNR Railcard £38.15. Journey planner price £43.70!

How daft can you get?

Anyway it ought to have been straightforward but today's railway can always throw a wobbly and the 1025 from Woking was cancelled. Boo!
But the 1013 (which fbb should, by rights, have missed) was running ten minutes late; thus it was that fbb was a few precious moments earlier than scheduled.

Upon exiting the station, the old man was greeted by a strange scene. There was a RailAir Coach, and beside it a small convocation of First Bus suits (and a few others as it happened) obviously in excited and expectant mood.
As an aside, fbb was slightly concerned about whether there was a dress code (he wore posh trousers a black jumper, a striped but open necked shirt and sandals - how shameless can you get!); but as soon as he spotted the sartorial elegance of Ray Stenning (with bike, centre) he knew that he would not be committing too great a social gaffe.

But what were they doing there?

It all became clear. They were waiting for the unadvertised pre-launch launch which happened at 1040.
The service coach has a substantial layover on the stand at the station, 31 minutes for the 1100 departure; 41 minutes for later times - so someone had the spiffing idea of having a launch before the launch.

There was the ribbon to be cut ...
... an a second ribbon to be held up and not cut.
Then a rather bemused town crier arrived, donned his ruff and ...
... uttered not an O Yez nor a God Save The Queen. Neither did he offer the smallest ding. He was just posing for the photographer!
There was a ceremonial handshake ...
... (missed by fbb) between Fearnley and someone that nobody knew and there was a group photo with all besuited folk (plus Ray and fbb!) clustered around the front of the motor and grinning inanely. As he was in it, your author was unable to take his own snap. But check the trade press and you might spot the old man.

It probably won't feature in today's Times!

While all this jollity was in progress, fbb was checking the stop and frame. The stop pole and flag already existed before being annexed by RailAir2 ...
... offering a calling point for two other services according to Google maps.
The 24 is one morning peak inbound trip on a Compass Bus tendered route ...
... with three similar "commuter" stops on Arriva's 53.
As these are effectively "set down only" the route numbers do not appear on the flag and the timetables are not in the frame. But the RA2 is!
And the frame was fully filled with fancy fripperies. Of course there was no timetable, only a departure list - surely folk would want to check when they would arrive at the airport?
Two promo posters added to the glory.
Each showed a different fare ...
... with the difference explained in small print. Surely it would be better to show a full set of fares and "bulk buy" offers at the stop which will be used by the majority of departing passengers.

The environs of the stop were poor (even Sally had deteriorated) ...
... but fbb is assured than Notwork Rail will be tidying it up and installing a shelter. Could we have a proper bench with back rest, please, not one of those bum stinging bits of sharp-edged ribbed plastic?
A seat totally unsuited to fbb's seat.

Exeter Hospital has a nice (?) stone built sofa.
After all RA2 is supposed to be a quality service.

At 1300 the coach departed (with just one passenger - it's early days) as did the suits. The launch after the launch after the service had launched nearly a fortnight previously was scheduled to happen nearby.

That will form part of tomorrow's blog.

 Next and final launch blog : Sunday 14th July 

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