Saturday, 5 December 2009
Two areas of green
A busy week which ended in splendid fashion as it was the EnsignBus running day between Grays and Gravesend via Lakeside and Bluewater. This has become a major annual event and attracts a good many people not all of whom were planning to go Christmas shopping!
The day dawned very bright and clear and I was lucky to have RLH61 for my part in the day. This particular vehicle was brought home from Canada some years ago and restored to its current high standard - all in great secrecy for a special occasion at the time. It was hugely popular and we were frequently very busy. I know one of you will be sending me a good photo of it in action today which I will use - meantime we'll make do with the one above. Driving an RLH is like driving a quirky RT - it looks vaguely familiar but things are not quite in the same place - the trafficator switch is mounted on the offside cab wall, so neither it nor the handbrake are where you would normally put your hand to. It has small sliding cab door windows, not the vertical one of the RT so again when giving the essential busmen's handsignals you have to remember not to put your hand through the glass!
You'll hear about it anyway so why not now. Yes, I missed my turning in Grays Town Centre so arrived at the railway station from the wrong way. Everyone seemed to enjoy the extra five minutes journey (except for those photographers who were facing the wrong way when I turned up!).
This is a great event - very popular now and doing what buses are supposed to do and carry lots of passengers!
I couldn't stay all day as I had another engagement in Bristol later so left at lunchtime for a railway trek across country and, it has to be said, very much worse weather.
Looking back on the week we had the important announcement from the DfT who have provided £30m for new vehicles across England from a competition called the Green Bus fund. The awards were distributed as follows:
Independents - 84
Local Authorities & PTEs - 41
TfL - 46
Stagecoach - 56
First - 36
NatEx - 20
Arriva and Go Ahead - zero
Most of the vehicles will be hybrids but 55 of them will be electric vehicles. More details of the specific orders will be following later. Our 56 are split between West Yorkshire and Manchester (22 and 14 respectively).
Lots to do and not long until Christmas so looks like two busy weeks coming up - do keep tuning in and thanks, once again, for all your comments. There will be a special message on Monday 7th Dec so do look in again then or as soon as you can.
If you are wondering about 'two areas of green' in the title that is the old green Country Bus area of London Transport and the Green bus fund!