Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Ipswich P&R Update

There have been reports in the local media that First have snatched the P&R fro Ipswich Buses, and are to start running the service from July 2017. The reports claim 20% fare rises, outrage and ignorance within Ipswich Buses, and ridiculous claims from local politicians.

First have indeed got the Park & Ride PROVISIONALLY!. The new structure still has to be approved by Suffolk County Council, which will not be until next week. Fares have not even been discussed so where the 20% comes from is anyone's idea. It is also worth noting that to my knowledge Ipswich Buses did not want to provide a dedicated P&R service, instead extending the 13 which anyone with an ounce of sense would realise that would mean mixing P&R and Chantry passengers. A bit like setting Masterchef in McDonald's.

It is also well known that there is constant in fighting between Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council so I have a message for both of those kindergartens;

Get your bloody act together and work for the County not your own egos. It doesn't matter if the Park & Ride is operated by First, Ipswich Buses, Donald Trump or Mr Blobby - until the never ending traffic and roadworks issues in Ipswich are sorted it's going to suffer huge delays and will put people off coming into Ipswich. You are becoming a laughing stock except there's nothing remotely funny about it. If Ipswich dies as a town the buck will lay entirely at your collective feet. Grow up and serve which is what you were elected to do.

When First release hard facts and details about Ipswich P&R I will report them. Until then don't read too much into speculation or headline grabbing by the newspapers but it might now give you a bigger idea as to why Jeremy Cooper decided he'd had enough.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Gas Buses Go Orange

With grateful thanks to Cameron Robinson and Tom O'Reily I can bring you the first pictures of  some of the gas buses in their new guise down at Plymouth. Five of them have been repainted into Orange Flash livery, and enter service today (Monday). WiFi has been installed but I understand as yet there has been no refurbishment except a new driver's seat.

Former Anglian 109 AU62 DWC was the first to turn Orange and is the star of the pics I have. It is now renumbered 701

Former Anglian 109 now Plymouth 701 AU62 DWC in its new Plymouth colours.        pic (c) Tom O'Reilly
701 with former Anglian 105, now 705 WX62 HFU        pic (c) Tom O'Reilly
Five buses have been painted Orange, with another five to go purple in the New Year. The final two will be painted into standard Plymouth Citibus livery.

Side view o the new look.        pic (c) Tom O'Reilly
Not completely sure that "There in a Flash" is the most reassuring slogan for a gas bus but they certainly look better than I envisaged. More pictures as I get them. My thanks once again to Cameron for finding the pics, and to Tom for letting e use them. Much appreciated both of you.

Forget Winter - Da Party Bus Is Here!

A couple of weeks ago I gave the link to a couple of Airport cams - Miami and the hair raising Juliana Airport in St Maarten, which is in the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean. I know that more than a few of you have caught the bug, become addicted to the cams and also passed it on! If so you may have spotted on the St Maarten cam an odd looking bus. It looks like a traditional US school bus with a yellow shed attached to the rear.

MOT anyone?
So I decided to do some research having seen this bus a few times and silly me it's not a shed but a traditional Cajun beach hut! This is Da Party Bus, a tourist attraction that takes holidaymakers on a 4 hour what is commonly known as a pub crawl round the island, charging the modest fare of only $49 per person. Makes Anglian seem value for money!

Anyway the glorified shed does have its purpose - DDA has reached the Caribbean and it houses, or should that be sheds among other things a wheelchair lift. Judging from the reviews and pictures available online it does seem extremely popular, although it seems if you want to go on it make sure no cruise ships are in town.

Da Party Bus in full swing
Now I'm thinking our local operators are missing a trick here. Stick a bar at the back of every 146 and passenger numbers will rocket. Da E200 Party 146 Bus. Sounds good eh? Ok I know we haven't got Caribbean weather so windows can't be completely removed as they are in St Maarten, and rules concerning alcohol and public buses would have to be a tad more flexible but hey - it's all about bums on seats laddie!

How's that for a paint job!
All images are freely available on Google Images but if anyone objects to their use let me know but a name will be required to prevent me ignoring you!

To see full details and more pics of Da Party Bus the official website can be seen here. Good luck spotting it on the Maho Beach Cam.

Also this week I was contacted by former FEC supremo David Squire, soon to take up his new post at RATP Dev UK, who have several bus subsidiaries  including London united and Bournemouth Transport. He has been on his travels again and kindly sent me a few pics from Portugal, including a bus in a rather familiar livery.

Looks familiar?         pic (c) David Squire
David explains; " I'm away in Lisbon and travelled north up the coast to Cascais, the local operator was previously owned by a famous company from Perth and has retained the 1980s style colour scheme under private ownership."

DAvid also likes his trams - RATP Dev UK also run the Manchester tram network - and sent me pics of some of Lisbon's examples.

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"These "elevator" trams are superb although covered in graffiti as they are parked in town overnight. This one swallowed up a crowd plus a wheel chair - it isn't low floor, no ramp and no fuss, the route saves users the trouble of a walk up a steep hill in case you were wondering"

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"Final one is of the red livery used for a tourist route, ten minutes into the trip we suffered a blocked line, this is so common place it is included in the on board commentary"

Actually it wasn't quite the final one as David then sent a pic to get all Daimler Fleetline fans salivating!

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"If readers visit Lisbon, I recommend the 15E tram route to Belem run by a mixture of old and new trams, get off at the Transport Museum (Carris is the operator) it is a working bus and tram depot plus a museum that includes green and orange Daimler Fleetlines, great value at €6 amazingly not a hi viz in sight."

Now have I been watching too much David Attenborough or does the one on the right look like it's mating! Why those top deck headlights? My thanks to David for the pics, good luck in your new job and stay in touch.

Have a good week all.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Ipswich Buses MD Resigns

It was brought to my attention yesterday afternoon that Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director at Ipswich Buses has resigned from his post and will leave the company at the end of the year.

Rob Bellamy has been appointed Interim MD until a permanent successor is found. As yet the reasons for Mr Cooper's resignation are unknown, and it would be inappropriate to publicise any rumours as I'm sure the reasons will be made available in due course. This morning Mr Cooper confirmed his resignation but indicated he is not speaking to the media at present.

As this story develops I will of course keep you updated. My thanks to the many people who have contacted and helped me with confirmation regarding this breaking news.

Tomorrow I'll publish the bus with a shed on the back post, as well as some great pics sent to me from Portugal.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Ollies At The Hollies

I received tip offs from Malcolm and Robin (Malcolm your parents missed a trick by not naming you Batman) from Borderbus of activity at The Hollies camping and leisure resort in Kessingland. In fact I was basically instructed to go up there for a look. So on Friday I did.

The Hollies have purchased 3 ex Hedingham Dublinbus Volvo Olympians, 2 of which are being converted into self catering holiday homes. The third will be having something done to it, but as yet nothing firm has been decided. Also purchased is an ex Hedingham Wright bodied Volvo B10BLE which is being converted into a tea room. I went to the site office to find two really nice ladies, including Louise, who told me about the project. I was given a really warm welcome and given permission to go round the site taking photos.

The 3 Olympians are on the Glamping field, glamping being a merge of "glamourous camping". One is being used to store the seats of the other 2, and is the one with the undecided future.

Ex Hedingham L361 M144 UKN no with more seats than intended!
Moving to the main glamping field and next was L360 M282 UKN. This bus has been stripped out ready for conversion and I was allowed on it to have a look.

Ex Hedingham L360 on its pitch at The Hollies
Lower deck stripped out ready for conversion
And the upper deck, with the seats stored in the bus visible through the windscreen
The third bus was locked up, with a lot of carpentry in evidence. L362 M146 UKN

Ex Hedingham 362 M182 UKN
However it appears some attention is needed to the windows unless a decking balcony is being built and that's where the french windows are going! Nurse for Louise!

No pane no gain!
I have a feeling once completed these glamping buses will prove very popular if sensibly priced. It certainly puts a whole new slant on the term "busman's holiday", or should that be "busman's ollieday"! I'm delighted to report the driver's cabs are being retained which should prove very popular with children of all ages - yes very big children too. A railway coach is also being discussed, which again I can see being very popular. I advised that Hedingham were currently selling off the rest of their Olympians and now was the time to buy with DDA looming, so hopefully there will be more additions.

My thanks to Louise and her colleague whose name I didn't get for their warm welcome, and I look forward to following the progress of the conversions. Now if you need a guinea pig to try them out and review once they're done.......

The tea bar will be ex Hedingham 481 R216 HCD. Not much more than a shell at the moment, but again I'll be following its progress

Ex Hedingham 481 in state of conversion

The engine and everything else is currently under tarpaulin. No idea if going back but if not there is space for one heck of a kettle!

The empty engine bay
I know most of us would like to see Olympians still on the road in public service come January but it's not going happen. Much better alternative uses that will still bring enjoyment to many are found than facing the scrap man, so I really hope The Hollies are successful in this venture.

Coming up later this week a bus with a shed on the back. Never thought I'd type those words! Take care all.