Thursday, 6 December 2018

Driverless - With Driver (?) Part 2

THAT picture!
Illustrating one editor's "take" on the news that Stagecoach and partners intend to run autonomous buses (with driver) between Ferrytoll Park and Ride and Edinburgh Park Station, the picture provides a couple of challenges along "fake news" lines. The six buses (not the five as mentioned in the press release and all branded fort the 747 route to Edinburgh Airport and, obviously, they are travelling in the wrong direction.

Unless,as someone has suggested, Nicola Sturgeon has declared he lover for the EU by changing to driving on the right!

The proposed "autonomous bus" route will start from Ferrytoll at the northern end of the Forth bridges.
The facilities for buses are of high quality and there is oodles of parking.
The complex sits under the shadow of the approaches to the Forth rail bridge, where a real 747 is seem departing.
Most of Stagecoach's bus service call at Ferrytoll ...
... notably the highly successful former Fife Express network, now rebranded.
Google Streetview was viewing the street scene at various times during the construction of the new Queensferry crossing, so pictures are not always reliable. But having left the P & R site the autonomous buses will follow an exclusive bus lane ...
... onto the A9000, the road name for the original bridge.

At the southern end of the bridge, the "express" routes leave the bus-only roads and make their way into Edinburgh along the A90 (shown in RED).
The roundabout at the B800 offers access only for buses and taxis as per the signs pictured on Streetview.
There is no physical barrier, but no doubt Mr McPlod will be quick to punish any ordinary motorist who chooses to ignore the signs and stray onto the old route.
The "autonomous" press release merely states that the service will terminate at Edinburgh Park interchange.
Here the Edinburgh tram and local "proper" trains share a station.

fbb presumes, in the absence of any detail, that the driverless vehicles (with driver) will follow the M90 to its junction with the Edinburgh ring road (in green) ...
... then just nip along to the station.

To what extent the service will be useful is open to debate. There are plenty of buses from Ferrytoll all the way into Edinburgh without a change. Will "commuters" relish the hassle of hopping off their autonomous vehicle and on to a tram or a train? The link may well be useful for employees working on the industrial estates and business parks around the tram stop.

Time will tell. Current plans are for the service to start in 2021 but dates are often over optimistic for public transport projects. There is smattering of suitable vehicles around, mainly in Europe ...
... so the Stagecoach partnership  has a great deal of work to do in a relatively short time.

Again, time will tell.
We may choose to strip away a dodgy saint, a green man descendant and the Christ child morphed into a woman (or even a santa clone) and look for a better Advent.

"Advent" means simply "arrival" from the Latin for "come" and "to"; Jesus "came to" the world at CHRISTmas - but from where?

We can go back to about 1000 years (BC) for a first clue.
The aged King David is nearing the end of his life and offers advice to Solomon, his son and successor.

When David was about to die, he called his son Solomon and gave him his last instructions: “My time to die has come. Be confident and determined, and do what the Lord your God orders you to do. Obey all his laws and commands, as written in the Law of Moses, so that wherever you go you may prosper in everything you do. If you obey him, the Lord will keep the promise he made when he told me that my descendants would rule Israel as long as they were careful to obey his commands faithfully with all their heart and soul."

Thus began the embryo of the idea that the "line" of David would continue for ever. Politically, kings did not obey and the Royal line did not continue royally, but it did continue.

A couple of centuries later the prophet Micah reinforced the idea by announcing that God's "man" would, indeed, "come to" Bethlehem.

The Lord says, “Bethlehem Ephrathah**, you are one of the smallest towns in Judah, but out of you I will bring a ruler for Israel, whose family line goes back to ancient times.” So the Lord will abandon his people to their enemies until the woman who is to give birth has her son.
Bethlehem was then an insignificant place and the idea that anything spectacular from God might happen there was hard to take, but ...
... it was the birth town of King David.

To you in David's
Town this day
Is born of David's line
The Saviour who is Christ the Lord
And this shall be the sign
And this shall be the sign.

The heavenly Babe
You there shall find
To human view displayed
And meanly wrapped
In swathing bands
And in a manger laid
And in a manger laid.

** Ephrathah : there were two Bethlehems; this one in the district of Ephrath and another much further north. 
 Next cartographic blog : Friday 7th December  


  1. I wonder if Jesus spent his days looking for increasingly obtuse and pedantic angles from which to write make mealy mouthed slurs against others in the carpentry game on his daily scroll?

  2. To correct the impression which has confused many commentators on the story: at the time the new 747 buses were delivered, the Forth Road Bridge was down to a contraflow, so the buses are on the left lane of the single carriageway. Nothing more suspect!