13 March 2009

Driver's unusual announcement

A couple of days ago I travelled to Sheffield by National Express coach Service 350 from Nottingham. I've read on this blog, which I very much enjoy contributing to, about humerous coach driver announcements, though have not encountered any such examples myself. "If only the coach drivers would use their microphone more!" is usually my opinion!!

(By popular demand, here they are again: click here for the original post containing a 5-star driver announcement so long it needs to be cut in two parts! - Eds)

However, my trip aboard a Stagecoach in Mansfield Volvo B12M recently, Liverpool-bound, was my first introduction to a driver that I'd describe as a "right character". I don't want any of his superiors to read this and him to get into trouble, so I won't mention his name or the date I was travelling, but his opening gambit to a half-full coach was to stand in the centre of the aisle and exclaim "Now, we don't permit you to defaecate in the toilet, solids are for bus stations!"

He then went through a load of legislation about seat belt-wearing, which simply was not true. He physically forced the people sat in the front two seats to wear theirs as apparently he was responsible as those seats were in his line of vision and "if a Policeman gets on and sees you're not wearing them, I get an £80 fine and so do you!"

Quite what he'd make of Stagecoach in Bedford's new Volvo B9Rs for use on Service X5 (Cambridge-Oxford) that do not have seat belts fitted to any seats except the front one on each side, is anyone's guess.

45 of the 49 seats on this coach have no seatbelts fitted and the coach was only built in January!

We were then all treated to a personal story of his about how he knows the law and wasn't happy with the attitude of an employee of BT who was doing work at his house and so escorted him off the premises and is in consultation with his Uncle Alan, who's a barrister, hoping to seek some sort of financial compensation. Knowing the dubious rights that strangers have in our own homes, I remember chuckling to myself that the BT employee probably had more of a case for action to be taken - but I wonder if British Telecom has an Uncle Alan??

The coach was spotlessly clean and driven well in both directions but all four drivers that I came into contact with during my return trip (drivers changed over in both directions at Mansfield). There was a fairly negative article in March's BUSES magazine about the recent journeys the article writer had undertaken on board NX coaches, and my journey represented excellent value for money and it also introduced me to the wonderful world of driver announcements.

It's worth pointing out that the expected transfer of Stagecoach in Mansfield's National Express contract to neighbouring Chesterfield depot has not taken place. Initially, when Stagecoach in Yorkshire moved its NX diagrams from Barnsley to Chesterfield, those at Mansfield were also to move there, too. This hasn't happened to date, though I saw a couple of former Barnsley-based NX vehicles baring Chesterfield Transport legals, so I presume this move has occurred. (CW)