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Bus Shite (I'VE BEEN PAPPED, NOOOOOO LOL)

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What I don't understand about bus companies is the fact that they are allowed to "self examine" and hand out PCV licences as they please. No attending the local test centre required, just the opinion of the in house trainer is required. If a standard car licence holder turned up for a job at Stobarts or Wincuntans asking for a job he'd be shown the door.

Also, how come a manual HGV licence holder passing his PCV test in an auto bus will be given a manual PCV entitlement but it doesn't work the other way when a PCV holder wants to drive a truck?

 

It's because buses don't tend to have 16 speed gearboxes with range change and splitter. if you've only ever driven a straight 5 or 6 speed box it can take some getting used to. going from a 6 speed to something like an eaton twin split would be pretty damn hard work (this is a crash box where each gear is split into three. the clutch is 2 stage and acts as a transmission brake and is used mostly for starting and stopping- gear changing is accomplished by moving the selector, lifting off the throttle and waiting for the clunk. downchanges the same but you dip the clutch and rev em up to get it in gear)

having said that, to find a new wagon with a manual gearbox these days is rare, they all seem to have gone to autos as standard with a manual box an extra cost option. some are good, some not, Scania's for example is dire.

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Why are buses used for longer than other road vehicles are commercially? Cars are sold from fleets anywhere from 2-5 years old and HGV's seem to have a 4-8 year fleet life and vans a similar 5-10 year life? Even Arriva in the Leicester area seem to run buses that are R-reg or V reg and some of the smaller operators seem to use mid 80s chod for contract work and a few even have some as old as old W reg in daily use. Its not a recent thing in 1994 Midland red had a fleet of Leyland Nationals that were N - T reg. Even the 1986 mk2 Transit 16 seaters that were not a success limped on until about 1998.

 

Industry margins are generally fairly slim even in larger urban areas - so the assets have to be depreciated over a longer period. A low-spec single decker might come in at £110k new at the moment - £160k or so for a double fitted out to a basic standard. Fairly typical to write that down over say 15 years and still get a few grand selling it on for use as a school bus hack.

 

I don't actually know much about the bus industry, but this thing about margins seems really weird to me. On the (admittedly extremely rare) occasions that I need to take a bus, it's like £2.50 for a couple of miles (i.e. about 10 times more expensive than the car), and it's pretty full. Daily and weekly tickets also seem pretty poor value.

 

The only way I can see them not making bucketloads of money is if the government forces them to carry youths and OAPs at 20p a pop- when I used to live in Leicester, there was a low-frequency service operated by a Merc 308 (Woods Coaches FTW), and I'd usually be the only non-OAP passenger (I much preferred it to the competing trunk route First bus because the latter was buggy-friendly and full of chav mums).

 

BTW, £110k doesn't sound that much. I'm guessing you need an average of two drivers per bus (1.5 shift per day, plus weekends/leave/sickness), and I doubt they'd cost much less than £30k each once you include NI, overtime, holidays etc. Therefore the cost of the bus only amounts to a couple of year's worth of salaries for the drivers you need to operate it with.

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Second hand buses that aren't low floor & DDA* compliant (wheelchair ramp fitted/wheelchair bay) are now worth sod all second hand, and come 2016, it will be illegal to use non DDA compliant buses in service. Also, thanks to the London LEZ, the market is now flooded with cheap low floor tat that is no use to the provinces unless you perform a costly single door conversion (around £7,500 to convert on a double deck), and even certain batches of double decks even when converted have only 68 seats, thus no use for schools contract work. Plus London is the most arduous place to operate buses in the country, and thanks to a bloody stupid regulation, they are geared to 38 mph, so a rear axle swap is often required to use them elsewhere. Fires are also rife on ex London tat when they are put on longer runs at higher speeds.

 

And Firstgroup have a scrap only policy when finished with buses, unlike all the other groups such as Arriva & Stagecoach, who use dealers like Ensign of Purfleet, and Stafford Bus Centre to dispose of surplus buses. Also many bus operators lease via Santander & Lombard for London work, due to the often short contracts. Santander have had a batch of ex London double deckers for sale now for nigh on 2 years (short Dennis Tridents & Volvo B7TLs), and poor old Lombard are lumbered with the Mercedes Citaro bendy buses, which are being offered at around £30k each, which is around 10% of their original cost new.

 

*Disability Discrimination Act

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Up until de-regulation (privatisation) in 1987, buses were issued with an 8 year certificate of initial fitness, and upon expiry, the bus would be completely gutted, with the floors ripped out and replaced, seats removed and re-trimmed, axles removed and overhauled, engines & gearboxes out and fully rebuilt, and most of the outer panels stripped bare. Once re-built, the bus would be as new, thus giving the bus on average a 16 year lifespan. Nowadays, buses are designed as 'throwaway' items, and are engineered down to a price, especially engines and gearboxes, unlike the good old smoky Gardner 6LXB, which was almost bomb proof, and easily capable of over half a million miles before major surgery, and was capable of doing more than 6mpg in service. Now a Volvo D7C lump is lucky to do 150k before going BANG, thanks to it's small capacity, and heavy turbo charging. Modern bus engines have sod all torque too, and with the gearbox set up are in 3rd gear( out of 5 or 6 ) by 12.5 mph, with the engine struggling, with kickdown not fitted, and no bloody hold gears either. Thanks Volvo,Dennis, Voith & ZF.

And to answer the question about examiners for PCV tests in house. The instructors are on the payroll, but the examiners work for the DSA, and actually fail a lot more people than you think. And now they are doing the CPC bullshit training...

What a lot of you won't realise is the legal checks PCV's and trucks have to go through on average every 4 weeks (required by law), which is basically a mini MOT, where the vehicle is given a full going over.

And when it comes to overheads..Oh boy..Even a small op's insurance premium can be into five figures per week, and diesel is going insane, plus getting the rebate for the muppets/pensioners they have to carry for free is getting harder, simply because in England, many local councils simply don't have the cash to pay for them. And the real kick in the crotch is that the subsidy bus companies get for the fuel is being slashed by 20% in April, so loads more marginal routes go bye byes, so if you live in the sticks, forget buses. It's already happened here, as no outlying towns & villages have a bus after 7pm or at all on Sundays.

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So has anyone got an opinion on the modern hybrid buses from the driver's seat? As a passenger they seem terribly clunky, they don't get up to a decent enough speed before the engine starts and I am sure pedestrians have no warning that a previously stopped bus is about to set off - this could well pose a problem for the blind or partially sighted ped trying to cross a road.

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I remember about 12 years ago Private Eye going on about Dennis Darts and unintended acceleration incidents, IIRC a couple of people killed when Darts run them over at bus stations, officially put down to driver error. Anybody recall that and was there anything to it?

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and poor old Lombard are lumbered with the Mercedes Citaro bendy buses, which are being offered at around £30k each, which is around 10% of their original cost new.

 

 

Some of these are doing the rounds at the Bristol Park & Ride sites now, the one I saw was an '02' reg.

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I remember about 12 years ago Private Eye going on about Dennis Darts and unintended acceleration incidents, IIRC a couple of people killed when Darts run them over at bus stations, officially put down to driver error. Anybody recall that and was there anything to it?

 

Any bus can be a danger if left in gear with the air tanks empty. Heard a story (so it must be true) about a bus taking itself for a drive because it was left in gear, handbrake off with empty air tanks. Engine was running, so the air system filled up. Buses and trucks use the air pressure to hold the brakes OFF, so once the air system was pumped up, there was nothing to stop the bus driving off (semi-auto, so no clutch so to speak).

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So has anyone got an opinion on the modern hybrid buses from the driver's seat? As a passenger they seem terribly clunky, they don't get up to a decent enough speed before the engine starts and I am sure pedestrians have no warning that a previously stopped bus is about to set off - this could well pose a problem for the blind or partially sighted ped trying to cross a road.

 

I had a quick hurl in an Alexander Dennis demonstrator a while back. It's a strange sensation at first, gentle pressure on the throttle meant the bus pulled away with the engine remaining at idling speed up to about 15mph, after that it sounded a bit like a CVT scooter or car. It wasn't like a Prius where it was possible to drive it solely on battery power.

 

I missed out on a shot behind the wheel of a newer example before it entered service in Edinburgh last autumn, would have been interesting to seen if further development had altered the driving experience at all.

 

Haven't managed to try out a battery electric bus yet - I reckon that would be weird.

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I remember about 12 years ago Private Eye going on about Dennis Darts and unintended acceleration incidents, IIRC a couple of people killed when Darts run them over at bus stations, officially put down to driver error. Anybody recall that and was there anything to it?

 

Any bus can be a danger if left in gear with the air tanks empty. Heard a story (so it must be true) about a bus taking itself for a drive because it was left in gear, handbrake off with empty air tanks. Engine was running, so the air system filled up. Buses and trucks use the air pressure to hold the brakes OFF, so once the air system was pumped up, there was nothing to stop the bus driving off (semi-auto, so no clutch so to speak).

 

One of the Dennis Dart SLF incidents involved a Stagecoach Busways example at Sunderland, which took off through a bus queue and into a pub. There was a major recall and all similar examples were retro-fitted with a gear interlock (footbrake & handbrake on to select D321) and all new examples were fitted from the factory. They were also fitted with an interlock to prevent them starting in gear, though I've driven several examples which will both start in gear and select gear with the footbrake and handbrake released.

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/672138.stm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/mar/10/martinwainwright

 

 

An ex colleague of mine has recently become unemployed, after starting (ironically enough) a Dennis Dart SLF, leaving it to build air in the yard, then running back into the office to get something he forgot... one other thing he forgot was the handbrake. Air built up, brakes released, 12 year old Dart SLF takes off across the yard into two 11-plate Volvo B7RLEs...

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'SLF' sure is a classy trim level for a bus!

 

Super Low Floor... snazzy, eh! To be pedantic they came in several different trim levels, normally SFD1, 2, 3, 4 or 6 but that's taking things a bit technically.

 

Strangely Volvo B10Ms, at least in the 80s, were available in GL, GLE and GLT trim :D

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Is driving a bus a shit way to earn a living?

 

Put simply, yes. The wages aren't great, the shifts tend to be shite and 90% of the buses with the big operators are humped.

 

I'm on £6.50/hr with the lot I work for just now, but I genuinely like my colleagues, my boss knows us all personally, we're treated fairly, defects get attended to when they occur and other being a tight fisted elderly Yorkshireman he's actually bloody good to work for. We don't do any stage carriage though (which is good) - I did it for two years and rapidly tired of it.

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The job used to be great until the union became a bunch of management suckups. Pay & conditions are rapidly getting worse, and I've decided I aint going back to PCV work.

Do your class 2 LGV and drive a bin wagon, it's remarkably similar!

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'SLF' sure is a classy trim level for a bus!

 

Super Low Floor... snazzy, eh! To be pedantic they came in several different trim levels, normally SFD1, 2, 3, 4 or 6 but that's taking things a bit technically.

 

I was thinking of Self-Loading Freight. :twisted:

 

 

We only had that kind of SLF when I worked in the airport, and even then it was only during my time working for The World's Favourite Airline. Holiday charters were much more entertaining with a much "higher" class of passenger, particularly on the late Friday and Saturday night Vengabuses to Eyebeetza. Admittedly, there were several terms which the generalised pubic would be frankly disgusted by.

 

We were a pretty sick lot in fact, though I suspect it wasn't just our operation. In saying that, I particularly enjoyed the sweepstakes we used to have at this time of year when the old dears would disappear over to Spain for four to six weeks; I won 2006's and 2008's prize for "number of pax to return in the hold as cargo".

 

As an aside, bus passengers (up here anyway) are "junkies", "alkies", "muppets", "schoolies" and "neds", collectively known as "bastards".

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We were a pretty sick lot in fact, though I suspect it wasn't just our operation. In saying that, I particularly enjoyed the sweepstakes we used to have at this time of year when the old dears would disappear over to Spain for four to six weeks; I won 2006's and 2008's prize for "number of pax to return in the hold as cargo".

 

That's bloody excellent! Keeps them nice and fresh. :mrgreen:

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My mate Daz's firm in Casvegas is known as Vengabus ( M Travel ), due to the bright colour scheme. The name was given to the buses by the local school brats. The song was a hit at the time of his firm's start up. His original fleet was 100% Brummy Metrolumps, now it's low floor Tridents & Darts

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My mate Daz's firm in Casvegas is known as Vengabus ( M Travel ), due to the bright colour scheme. The name was given to the buses by the local school brats. The song was a hit at the time of his firm's start up. His original fleet was 100% Brummy Metrolumps, now it's low floor Tridents & Darts

 

 

Local firm Gibson Direct, c. 1999...

 

30211_399022267524_522877524_4699162_1450479_n.jpg

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Took a couple of pics when I arrived at work the other day (6 am) with our little fleet out ready and Di about to leave for Tauranga naked in a Rosa stolen off the Gisborne run as they need a larger 40 seater for the summer tourists and the usual Tauranga Optare was being serviced

6592497795_f1146f9f93.jpg

The Fleet at work by stuno602, on Flickr

You will notice a Plaxton amongst the Optares and a MAN at the back

We now run 7 Optares, up from the 3 when I started

6592501627_7915a3cd91.jpg

The fleet at work 2 by stuno602, on Flickr

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Cor. That Bedford CF bus is marvellously shite!

Try to find one with a Reeve Burgess body, they look even shittier. The Plaxton version was nice though, a mate of mine once had 4 of them.

 

6642335179_f23871b18c_b.jpg

Hey here's one, there were a few still kicking around Jersey early-mid 90s though I think all gone now, I remember someone telling me that much of the original Bedford tin was retained under that boxlike front end, including the outer wings!

 

GR8 for cutting a hole in the back and using to transport a Mini.

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That's the one, looks like a greenhouse on wheels. On the subject of Reeve Burgess, they also built this WTF-mobile using minibus parts. GR8 4 long distance phone calls.

4945973388_1e5bccf507_z.jpg

We've all heard of carphones but this is ridiculous! by quicksilver coaches, on Flickr

 

Thought that was a Freight Rover 300 at first glance!

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Put simply, yes. The wages aren't great, the shifts tend to be shite and 90% of the buses with the big operators are humped.

 

The buses which I tend to travel on are modern Volvo Plaxton Panthers, from 54 reg to 09 reg, and even the newest ones make all manner of weird and wonderful noises which don't sound healthy. When paying for my fare, I notice that there are all manners of warning messages on the dashboard, from ECU to retarder faults. Probably not surprising given the manner in which they are driven...

 

...I do feel sympathy for some of the passengers which drivers have to put up with, though.

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