ON THURSDAY January 6, we boarded the 843 Coastliner at Malton eastbound for Scarborough, the time was 4.05pm.
We had had a good day in Malton, spending our money, I spent my wife’s Christmas cash and she likewise spent mine, all in all a good day out.
Snacking at Woodheads, and leaving Malton satisfied that this was a job well done, we chatted to our fellow passengers. The Blue Coastliner stopped at the level crossing as the train from Scarborough rushed through. Time to admire the large new Lidl store that Malton now has. Then onwards to negotiate the blighted main street of Norton (only in this country would a council build a bus stop in the middle of a busy road) the Blue Bus forged onwards.
Darkness now loomed as we turned right into Scagglethorpe. How many times have we wondered why the bus no longer uses the very expensive stop on the A64 instead of having to do this awkward right turn across the flow of traffic.
We found out when we had to abruptly stop at the bus stop at East Heslerton. It transpires that in the dark, passengers, unless at the kerb side, are very difficult to see, especially if they stand in the shelter. The reason being that all of the stops along the A64 are unlit, for whatever reason. More to the point it is very dangerous to try to cross the A64 in the dark, there are no street lights at East Heslerton nor any at Ganton.
But our tale of near tragedy centres on the bus stop at East Heslerton. As the bus drew away from the stop, after allowing the single passenger to step on board, the bus’s nearside rear view mirror collided with the top corner of the shelter. The resulting explosion was like someone throwing a hand grenade into the shelter. Glass in all the panels erupted out onto the carriageway, most on the eastbound section but all across the tarmac.
We passengers assumed the bus had crushed the shelter, but not so. The shelter remained upright and solid, the glass however had vanished from the frames and now lay for all to see where traffic would surely rip their tyres to shreds. The driver by now had his hazard lights on and I and the single passenger, along with the driver, were trying to warn oncoming traffic and guide them away from the hazard, as trying to kick the glass back towards the kerb turned out to be futile. I told the driver I would try to find some form of brush from the nearby farm to sweep up as much of the glass as we could. To no avail as I could not make the lady cooking her evening meal hear my repeated shouts nor would she answer the doorbell.
Leaving the silent farm I heard a sound which I thought was a car’s tyre being punctured. It was not. The sound I heard happened to be that of a red van’s side rear view mirror catching the passenger in the back and flooring him. This man had been trying to push as much of the glass away as he could while I sought out a brush and the van driver said he did not see him. One would think that a huge bus with all four hazard lights on would be a place to proceed with caution. This man thought otherwise, with the consequence that the innocent man doing a good turn was now seriously injured and could have been killed. That he was not was pure luck.
Mayhem ensued with the passenger lying on his back in a sea of broken glass; the ambulance was called out and along with the police arrived in less than 15 minutes from Scarborough, damn good going on a dark frosty night, I was impressed! I sincerely hope that the poor chap makes a full recovery, and his distraught step-daughter (who was also on the bus) receives her step-dad back in full health.
This situation shows, to me at least, a number of glaring problems with the A64. Lack of lighting through the villages, and bus shelters obviously not suited to the needs of the travelling public, are but two. Why, for goodness sake, are there no lights in remote bus shelters? Nor is there adequate lighting at any public crossing points. It would be a simple benefit to road safety if this was not the case and sufficient lighting installed.
All the waffle regarding any upgrades along the A64 is inconsequential, when there are obviously dangerous situations, such as this, which has been witnessed by a large blue bus filled with passengers who will bear witness to this glaring oversight regarding the safety of the public using the Queen’s Highway.
I am fully aware of any reply to this letter from responsible authorities, lack of cash, or the idea that there is no need to improve this arterial main road. This incident is not an isolated one, think of the number of accidents/deaths to pedestrians on this road over the years. Inadequate lighting, and the lack of pedestrian pavements are only two such ideas that would improve this road, and reduce its appalling brutal impact on people.
I await any form of improvement along the A64, but I will not hold my breath.
Mr R Marshall