Saturday, 22 November 2008

Some quick retail therapy

Retail therapy? Well necessary shopping so far as I am concerned. I may or may not have mentioned on this blog but I'm not heavily into shopping - it's not a hobby of mine and quite definitely not an addiction. Partly this could be down to my gender but whatever I couldn't put off any longer getting a couple of new pullovers. When I heard that Debenhams had started a three day sale with 25% off across the board and that M & S were having a one day sale I thought I had better nip into Plymouth sharpish and take advantage of the opportunity. I could have driven in and used the ever useful 'Park and Ride' facility but instead opted to use my bus pass.

Now I'm no longer faced with a daily commute travelling by public transport has become a more attractive proposition. My own observations in the Tamar Valley is that the bus and train companies are getting their act together: through most of the day we have an hourly bus service between Gunnislake and Tavistock whilst the onward section to Plymouth sees buses running every 15 minutes or so. So far as the trains are concerned a new timetable is coming out next month and I'm led to believe that there will be at least one extra train on the 'Tamar Valley Line'. Again, based on what I see, Gunnislake Station looks to be increasing in passenger use.

Back to last Thursday and I took the 9.48 bus from our village into Tavistock, changed buses there and was walking down through Plymouth's shopping centre by 11 o'clock. By 11.30 I had been in and out of Debenhams and was boarding the bus to go home - I don't hang about on this shopping lark! On the last leg back to my village from Tavistock I met an elderly friend from the village so a chance to have a bit of a natter. All in all I had been away from home for just under four hours with zero travelling cost or stress; my two lambswool jumpers were actually for sale at half price, so total cost to me of £25 - I was well pleased with that result!

A few observations: travelling off peak on public transport (in this area at least) never seems to be too busy; although I enjoy driving I don't have any hangups in letting the bus or train take the strain occasionally. Plymouth has excellent park-and-ride facilities and dedicated bus lanes in places, all to the good in my book. Another point worth a mention is just how space efficient buses are compared with cars - our small local buses carrying 30 odd passengers can't be more than two average cars in length if that, although obviously wider of course. Assuming the buses need the same amount of empty space fore and aft as a car when driving along then it can be seen just how much better at optimizing road space a bus can be.

One final comment, when Gordon Brown supplies something for free it's a shame not to take advantage. Mind you purists may frown about using the word "free" in relation to bus passes, it all has to be paid for somewhere - mainly out of general taxation and with shortfalls coming out of "our" council tax. But it's certainly nice to receive a ticket that says £0.00, that's for sure!

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