06 August 2008

Its just as well we are anoraks

Every now and then you get a day when public transport really does seem the worse option. When you get bad weather like we are getting used to this summer then it does amplify how bad things are. Minor difficulties become major headaches when you are getting soaked!

Seemed a simple enough plan at the time. I had to get to The Station by 15:43 at the latest. I knew the train we were meeting was running on time as the Rail Track web site gives a real time arrivals board - great idea! A quick check on the Internet and I found a bus, FDC service 84 (I think - always get the mixed up!) that got to my stop at Derriford Roundabout about 15:10 and then straight through to Milehouse and then the City. A quick check on the RTP showed the bus as due so I waited, and waited, and waited. By now the bus had disappeared from the display board so clearly this bus wasn't equipped with the RTP system. I was actually on the phone to wife to explain I wouldn't make it when just before 15:25 the bus arrived a the stop. It didn't leave long to get to town but I decided to give it ago. Much to my surprise Plymouth traffic was having a day off so it was high speed, almost non stop, no traffic jams all the way into town and I got to the station with a few minutes to spare.

I probably could have caught a Citybus service down to near the station but the timetables printed at the bus stop only give departure times, with no indication of route - and how long the journey takes. FDC do give this in a simple diagram for each route which really does help.

Due to the weather getting worse we all caught a taxi to St Budeaux as we didnt fancy carrying our friends luggage all the way to the bus stop in the pouring rain.

Later in the evening I had to get me and Zak back to Estover from St Budeaux. I knew the 46 came through some time and also the 29 to Derriford might be an option as we could change buses there. It would save a long ride on the 46. Down to the bus stop and sadly there was no RTP display. There was a full display board...

A poor display

Not a well thought out board really!

Plenty of room but some timetables overlap while others have fallen down. Once again there is no route information to indicate where buses go and how long they take. At least the Target Travel timetable includes a full timetable which did give us an option to catch as far as Crownhill. We had missed the 29 and just missed a 152 so we decided to wait for the 46. A 29 did fly by just before the 46 - not sure what one this was as it wasn't on the timetable. We saw the 46 and Zak wanted to catch that one as he didn't want to change buses at Derriford. A very quite ride in a very damp Dart, we were just about the only passengers until Derriford, through the vast housing estates of North Plymouth - hardly the most scenic of routes at the best of times. The only highlight being The George Park and Ride site which was a hive of activity with no less than 4 FDC Park and Ride buses getting ready to depart back to the depot, a couple of the Northern Connect Taxibuses and a couple Northern Connect Solos  either parked up or arriving / departing at the same time. Zak enjoyed that - he likes the Northen Connect service - as he always gets a wave back from the drivers!

Actually to be fair, when I read back my post, it hardly qualifies as the journey to hell and back does it? Like I said

Minor difficulties become major headaches when you are getting soaked!

still, get the RTP up and running in more bus stops and buses, and get better route information printed up at stops and life as a bus passenger would get a little bit more bearable, even if likely to stay just as wet

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