Tag Archives: bus

Sussex Day 2012: Part 5 (revisited) – Once a week each way, but not for much longer

28 Jun

Sussex Day 2012

I commented last week on the rather poor bus service serving the village of Fulking at the foot of the South Downs, in West Sussex.

Today however I read that the rather sparse service of two buses a week (the No. 62 between Midhurst and Brighton) will be withdrawn from September 2012.

West Sussex County Council’s latest (and supposedly final) round of bus subsidy cuts will reduce some bus services and lead to the complete withdrawal of others.

The reason for the withdrawal of this service is said to be down “to insufficient passenger numbers”, not surprising really, a service consisting of only two buses a week was never going to be successful in making people give up their cars and take the bus.

So if you were thinking of taking the bus to Fulking you better make it quick, you’ve just got a couple of months left.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Fleeting glimpses, lasting impressions

20 Apr

I used to think that my journeys to and from work were pretty dull and to be frank a bit of a waste of my time, but over the last few weeks my perception has changed, as I start to notice more and more interesting things going on in the world around me.

I should clarify that they are interesting to me, the rest of you reading this may not find them particularly interesting, but to me they are helping make my journeys more bearable.

I probably all started when the clocks went forward with the start of British Summer Time last month, and it became light enough in the mornings to see beyond the windows of the bus.

This morning the “interesting thing” happened before I even got to the bus stop. Walking up the High Street I spotted a heron landing on the ridge of the old Post Office roof, this in itself was quite unusual as although the bird is not particularly rare I have seldom seen it anywhere other than the side of a pond or stream.

What was really incredible was the group of seagulls that began to mob the heron as it perched on the roof top. There was one particularly aggressive one that kept diving in close, accompanied by a screeching cry. It didn’t take many “attacks” for the heron to decide it had had enough and to take to the air and head off to the south-east out of sight, but still being pursued by the seagulls.

All this at just after six o’clock in the morning, the whole thing probably lasted less than a minute, but I felt incredibly privileged to have been witness to this spectacle.

Sometimes it is something on a much bigger scale, like the sun rising through the mists, an experience which lasts for most of the bus journey on a good day. With glimpses of the sun visible in the mist at various intervals as we race through the Sussex countryside.

Last night as I made my way home on the train one half of the sky was full of very dark grey (almost black) cloud stretching down to the trees on the horizon. Meanwhile the sun was still shining over the other side of the train, this caused me to notice  a satellite dish slowly rotating on the horizon, the sun’s rays picking it out against the dark cloud.

A few seconds later I noticed what appeared to be the burst of a firework, specks of silver glittering against the dark cloud. Unlike a firework it just hung in the air not moving, when I had time to process the image I realised it was a radio/mobile phone mast, something else I had failed to notice despite making the same journey five days a week for the past couple of years. A truly unique combination of weather conditions had made them visible to me for the first time.

Sometimes it is something natural, like the buzzard I saw last week (at least I think it was a buzzard), standing on the ground pulling at something it had probably just killed. Two rooks looked on from a few feet away, presumably hoping that it would leave something behind for them to nibble on.

Sometimes it is something unexpected, like a couple of days ago when I stepped out the office door and into the street to witness two Apache helicopters passing overhead. I have long admired these machines and the men who fly them, but had never seen one for real.

I couldn’t believe my luck, a minute earlier or later and I would have missed them completely. Like the heron this morning, this flight only lasted a minute or so before they were out of sight, but it was still incredibly satisfying to have been there to witness them in that instant.

They nearly all have one thing in common, they are usually just brief encounters. Usually from a bus or train window, blink and you miss it, look the other way and you miss it. Too fleeting to consider taking a photo, but just long enough to leave a lasting impression.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Confessions of a Bus Geek

24 Mar

The Urban Dictionary defines a bus geek as “someone who rides Public Transportation for purposes of entertainment”. Apart from the American term public transportation (we have public transport in the UK) this pretty much defines how I spent my Saturday.

There was no logical reason for my friend Chris and I spending just over five hours sitting on buses today, it just seemed like a fun idea. It was a coincidence that I was able to visit and photograph one of the places on my genealogy hit list along the way (more about that in a future post).

In fact the whole journey was a bit like a family history tour, passing through so many places in my family tree. Unfortunately we didn’t actually spend time off the bus anywhere other than Tunbridge Wells, but it was good to be travelling through the landscape of my relatives none the less.

The journey itself was a round trip (otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting at home writing this) of about 90 miles, mainly through East and West Sussex, but also crossing into Kent and Surrey.

For the fellow bus geeks reading this the bus routes were:

  1. Horsham to Brighton (17, Stagecoach)
  2. Brighton to Tunbridge Wells (29, Brighton and Hove)
  3. Tunbridge Wells to Crawley (291, Metrobus)
  4. Crawley to Horsham (23, Metrobus)

I have travelled on these routes before, but never the complete routes. I don’t think I have ever been to Tunbridge Wells before, by any mode of transport, but I will definitely be heading back there again. Not least because of the famous Hall’s Bookshop.

I was delighted to find a memorial below to Air Chief Marshall Dowding in Calverley Grounds (the park where we sat and enjoyed a sandwich in the sunshine). This was a perfect piece of genealogical synchronicity because he was born in Moffat, Scotland, the same town as my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Kinghorn.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Please don’t take away my buses

26 May

According to the West Sussex County Council (WSCC) website “Bus travel offers a real alternative to the car”, but from September 2011 this might not be the case.

The WSCC have announced a public consultation into their proposals to reduce the subsidies given to local bus companies by £2 million over the next three years. Essentially this means that the bus companies will not be paid to run services which are not profitable enough for them to run in the first place. These are usually (but not alway) evening and weekend services, and usually to small rural villages.

As someone who doesn’t drive a car, buses (and trains) are not an alternative, they are my only method of transport, whether it is to get to work, to go shopping, heading for an archive or heading off somewhere to go walking. Living in a small rural village has its advantages, but access to public transport is not usually one of them.

Looking down the list of proposed cuts the other day was like looking at a list of old friends. Of course the service that I use to get to and from work is on the list (proposed cuts to the evening and Saturday services) but so are many of the buses that I have used in the past when I am out exploring the Sussex countryside or visiting places of interest.

Of course this blog is not the place to lodge my objections, that can be done in a variety of ways described on the WSCC website. The deadline for consultation is the 10th June 2011, so if you are a user of any West Sussex bus services then make sure you check out the website and see if you might be affected and make your opinions known.

If these cuts go ahead the public transport network in West Sussex is going to be radically different this time next year (and I might need to get myself bike).

You wait ages for a bus to come along… then dozens turn up at once

13 Jun

Modern buses

I am not really what you would call a bus enthusiast, but being someone who relies on public transport and someone with an interest in many aspects of history I was delighted excited to attend the bus rally at Madeira Drive, Brighton, East Sussex.

The bus rally was to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company. Madeira Drive is right on the seafront at Brighton and the buses looked great in the sunshine. There was a large selection of "vintage" and modern buses and several stalls selling all sorts of bus related merchandise.

Brighton Hove & District FUF 63

I think the bus above was one of the oldest on display today, being built just before the Second World War. There was quite a variety of "vintage" buses and I could easy imagine some of my relatives and ancestors climbing aboard buses like these when they needed to go into town.

Some of the "vintage" buses weren’t that old, or at least they didn’t seem so to me because they reminded me of the buses we used to take into Horsham. I think the buses (like the one below) may have been replaced by the time I was old enough to travel on them on my own, although I can’t remember at what age that would have been.

Southdown RUF37R

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