Sunday, 22 November 2009
Return to Dagenham Dock
I must start with an omission from the route 9 story. We did have "50 years of Routemasters on route 9" special destination blind labels made - these were in the main route 9 fleet from mid-November onwards and were specially made for us by McKennas and at not much notice. The great thing about Vin and Malc at McKennas is that they entirely understand what you are trying to achieve and get it right first time! Do check in with them at http://www.mckennabrothers.co.uk/.
As for this week, well one interesting co-incidence. We do have special staff forums ("Question Time") at our locations every month and Bus Board Directors are scheduled into some of them. The luck of the draw got me to one at London's Dagenham depot this week - my hold home from Capital Citybus days although it is now half a mile away and a spanking new site and not the old Portakabin and shed we used to have.
A great turnout and many of my old colleagues and team were there and I learned a lot about experiences with new mirrors, cabs, GreenRoad, iBus and so on.
Several had come prepared of course but one or two of my oldest friends and colleagues also had some memorabilia for me - photographs, video and sound recordings which was really nice. I also got a question answered. In another place I had told the story of my earliest PSV test which was done under the auspices of the LBPG at Cobham in 1977. We did our learning on RT1320 and in the fortnight before our tests (with Bruce Swain from RTL453 and Terry Stubbington from RT190) the late Alan Allmey discovered RT1320 was out of test and incapable of passing a new one! As a result we were hurriedly loaned another vehicle which none of us had driven until the day of our test.
I had entirely forgotten which bus it was but my old friend, and Dagenham driver Bruce Swain confirmed it was RT4497 and in addition sent me a photo (which is shown above).
This of course only gave you an automatic licence so I had to go through the whole stressful experience again with ST922 to get my manual licence. A task made harder because (certainly in those days) if you did badly on your upgrade test they could revoke your existing one!
(By co-incidence I was able to touch ST922 as well this week - it is currently undergoing some restoration work at Cobham Bus Museum. Lots going on there and a story for another day).
Further changes are proposed for PSV driver licensing and consultation is now being undertaken. One of the anomalies has always been that you can get your licence as soon as you are 18 (of course it was 21 in my day) and it is not until you approach 45 that you need your first medical. Thereafter at five yearly intervals. More frequent and regular medical tests are being proposed in measures to tighten up on this. PSV drivers do have the highest standards of safety delivery - the numbers of fatalities and injuries are very small by comparison with other types of road users. Nevertheless it is quite right that these standards are reviewed and areas of weakness, such as this one, remedied.
(At a point in this story "PSV" became "PCV". I have used the old term throughout. Using olde worlde terms sometimes conveys the impression of wisdom whether it is deserved or not).
Packing to head to the North West - thanks for following this and glad you are enjoying it!