Monday, 24 November 2014

Jersey, Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are an archipelago off the coast of Normandy.  Despite being closer to France, the islands are dependencies of the British Crown.

Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands.  It is governed independently from the other islands (and its government is also independent from that of the United Kingdom).

Although Jersey has had railways, these were never a success and had closed before the Second World War.  Today, Jersey's public transport system is provided with buses.

Since January 2013, bus services on Jersey have been provided by LibertyBus under contract to the island's government, the States of Jersey.

LibertyBus was launched with a brand new fleet of buses.  Most are midi-sized single-deckers.



The LibertyBus route network radiates out from St. Helier, Jersey's main town.

Many of Jersey's roads are narrow and winding.  This restricts the size of vehicles which can be used on the island.

Smaller minibuses are used on some services.

The bus terminus in St. Helier is at Liberation Station, where there is a modern bus station.  

As these images show, double-deck buses cannot use the bus stops within the terminal.

Despite this restriction, the LibertyBus fleet does contain a small number of double-deck buses.

The double-deckers operate on route 15, linking St. Helier with Jersey's airport.  In St. Helier, route 15 terminates in the street outside Liberation Station.

I understand the double-deckers require special dispensation to operate on Jersey, as they exceed the maximum width and length permitted under the island's traffic laws.

During my visit, I did notice one or two single-deckers on route 15.  I also found a double-decker on route 16.

Like the 15,  route 16 picks up on the road outside Liberation Station, avoiding the height restriction applying to buses on other routes which pick up within.

Not all of LibertyBus fleet was new in 2013.  Some single-deckers were taken over from the previous operator of Jersey's bus services.  In theory, these are intended to be used on school bus services.  In practice, I found them in everyday use on "mainstream" services. 

Conversely, the newer single-deckers can and do operate on the school services.

Some of the LibertyBus fleet carry advertising liveries.  Vinyls over the window do reduce the view from inside the vehicle.  In my opinion this is a shame as some of the routes are quite scenic.

When I visited Jersey in June 2014, I noted that at certain times of day the buses were very busy.

This one has just left Liberation Station with a full load, as indicated on its destination screen.

At the time of writing this, a standard fare of £1.80 is charged on LibertyBus services, although a £1.30 fare applies for short journeys.  Single fares do not permit transfer - if your journey requires a change of bus, you will be required to pay another fare.  1, 2, 3 and 7-day and longer period tickets allowing unlimited travel are available.  The one-day pass can be bought from the bus driver, tickets for 2 days or longer can be bought from a LibertyBus sales desk at Liberation Station.

LibertyBus have also introduced smartcard ticketing, branded as the Avanchi card.  The Avanchi card can be used for period tickets, or for pay-as-you-go.  Single fares paid using the Avanchi card are slightly cheaper than paying with cash.

Although LibertyBus operate all the regular bus routes, other companies also operate on Jersey.  Jersey Bus Tours provide services aimed at tourists during the summer months.

The Channel Islands were occupied by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.  The occupying forces built many fortifications on Jersey, including the Jersey War Tunnels.  The tunnels are now one of the island's visitor attractions.

A vintage bus dating from 1951 operates a shuttle from St. Helier to the Jersey War Tunnels.


The Char-a-Banc, a single-deck bus built in 1977, operates two short tours with each tour running twice a day.  The Char-a-Banc picks up outside the Pomme d'Or hotel in St. Helier.

During the German occupation of the Channel Islands, the hotel was requisitioned as a headquarters for the German navy.

An all-day tour using a modern coach is also operated.

A couple of other coach companies also operate on Jersey.

Waverley Tours operates several tours on Jersey, while Tantivy Blue Coach Tours also provides an all-day tour of the island.

Tantivy Blue Coach Tours also operate private transfer services to hotels from Jersey's ferry terminal in St. Helier.

The Tantivy fleet inlcudes some single-deck buses as well as coaches.  It appears these vehicles are kept for special services and contracts, as Tantivy do not operate regular bus services.

Jersey may not have railways now, but it does have trains.

The Little Train (Le Petit Train) operates road trains from St. Helier along the coast to St. Aubin.  Coincidentally, these follow the route of the railway.

Boat tours along Jersey's southern coast are operated by South Coast Cruises, using a small catamaran.

Much larger vessels are used by Condor Ferries, who provide the main shipping link from Jersey to the island of Guernsey and the French port of St. Malo as well as to ports on the south coast of England.

Ferries to the French coast and to the island of Alderney are operated by Manche-Îles Express.  These may not operate all year round.

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