Friday, November 14, 2003

Hoorah, Martlesham is finally open, the punters are coming in and I can get back to some semblance of normality again...

The launch event on Tuesday went pretty well in the end. It was, of course, dominated by the councillors etc who have never been on site before and probably never will again but at least a couple of the speeches managed to give some credit to some of the people who'd actually done the work. And the doves all flew without encouragement when they got released, which was a step up from events at the Bury Road launch in 2000. OK, so we were pleased it was all over before darkness fell as the lights in the terminal building didn't get fitted until yesterday, but otherwise good stuff. I even managed to get on telly for a few seconds that night. They even managed to make a cake in the shape of one of the buses that was surprisingly edible. Mind you, it was a grey and cold day (again). We really must get the hang of launching things in the summer from now on. Would be nice to have some scantily clad models around or something. Just to add a touch of colour to events you understand...

So Wednesday was the real test of all our hard work when we opened to the public. I got there at 0645 in time for the first bus to roll at 0700. And the first passenger finally rolled up at 0750 or thereabouts. Which was nice as we were beginning to think we'd be stood there all day waiting. So we did the ceremonial handing over of a 20 trip smartcard, bottle of wine and P&R umbrella. There were press around as well so I also ended up in the Evening Star that day. Fame! I'm gonna live forever, etc. Ahem. It all went pretty well from then on with a steady stream of people running through including several who bought smartcards before even trying the route (and thus committed themselves to coming back), a few who bought them on their way home again and also Joan and Mum (who I met on my bus back to the site, which was nice). Hoorah! It was of course another grey and rainy day so that may have put a few people off from trying us out, but in the end we must have had at least 60 cars through. Which compares well with the other two when they opened. But it was a long day and I was more than glad to get home. Despite ending up spending the evening on my own as Joan went out to Bingo with Helen. Total winnings £2.50 each. Whooppee, life of luxury for us from now on.

Then yesterday and we had hoped to get back to regular stuff. In fact I had hoped not to go near Martlesham, but that was not to be. The plan was simple enough - go out first thing and put up the "open for christmas shopping" signs at London Road (the one at Bury Road got removed last year and we haven't got ant for Martlesham yet) then pelt off to Bury St Edmunds to deliver some timetables to Greene King brewery. But while we were putting the signs up the phone rang. Martlesham. One of the new buses wasn't working properly so had been replaced by a spare. Which was a couple of inches taller. So naturally the driver had smacked into the overhanging roof of the terminal building, ripping a gutter off and twisting some of the planks. Marvellous.

Gary and I thus went over to see the damage and have a chat with the on-site engineer and project managers about stopping it happen again. After much arguing and stomping about we finally got them to agree to extend the kerb line away from the building. After all, we might end up running bigger buses still in the future (including double deckers) so need to be able to cope with those too. Not sure when it will happen, bu the sooner the better in my book.

All of which meant we didn't even leave here towards Bury until after lunch. Then on the way back Gary's phone rang - some furniture he'd ordered had arrived. As we had the van we picked that up and I did my good deed for the day by helping him get it up to his flat. Those little things that make me remember some of the reasons I was pleased not to be working at Argos any more. Flat-pack wardrobes are just so heavy!

And now the weekend is approaching rapidly. I think I will devote the rest of today to clearing the clutter that has accumulated on and around my desk during all the launch build-up, then next week back to the cut and thrust of trying to meet targets.

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