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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Coventry, UK

The city of Coventry lies around 150 kilometres north west of London.  It is the UK city furthest from any coastline.

Coventry used to have a fine mediaeval city centre, built around a 14th Century cathedral.  That was to change one night during November 1940 when an enemy bombing raid destroyed much of the centre of Coventry, including the cathedral.  The cathedral ruins stand as a shell, with a new cathedral building adjacent to them, while much of the city centre is post-war.

The November 1940 attack on Coventry also caused the final closure of the city's tram system.  Coventry's trams were already on their way out, as buses had replaced many of them through the 1930s.  The 1940 bombing raid damaged the remaining tram infrastructure and the system was abandoned.  Coventry's public transport has been provided entirely by buses ever since.

Bus services in Coventry are marketed under the "Network West Midlands" banner.  However, there is no tightly co-ordinated network.   Some co-ordination is achieved by Network West Midlands, acting in partnership with bus companies, but the bus companies have freedom run where and when they choose.

Most bus services within Coventry are operated by National Express West Midlands, as are some routes to neighbouring towns.

The National Express fleet includes a mixture of double-deck and single-deck buses.  Most carry a white and pale blue livery.








 

 




The newest buses are used on route 21, the most frequent route in Coventry.  These vehicles carry dedicated branding.








Articulated buses are less common in the UK than in continental Europe.  Nevertheless, they can be found in a number of cities including Coventry. 








Although National Express use white and pale blue colours in Coventry, across the rest of the West Midlands the fleet colours are white and red.  Route 900, which links Coventry with Birmingham, uses white and red buses.





 
When I visited Coventry in January 2013, a small number of National Express buses still carried a previous version of the livery which included dark blue. 

 
Fares on National Express West Midlands buses must be paid using the exact fare.  Drivers do not give change.  It is expected that electronic smartcard ticketing will be introduced on National Express buses during 2013.



A number of bus routes into Coventry from nearby towns are operated by other companies, including Stagecoach, Johnsons and De Courcey Travel.












Many of the buses operated by Stagecoach carry dedicated branding for particular routes.







 

Two Park & Ride services operate into Coventry city centre.  Both are operated by De Courcey.

Conventional diesel-powered buses are operated on the service from the north park & ride site. 






It is more than 70 years since the last tram ran in Coventry.  There is nevertheless one fully-electric transport service on the city's streets.  Three battery-powered electric buses were introduced to the Park & Ride South service during 2012.





  

Although many bus routes pick up at stops on city streets, Coventry also has a bus station.  However, not all routes serve the bus station.









Coventry has had a long history of motor vehicle manufacturing.  This is celebrated in the Coventry Transport Museum in the centre of the city, across the road from the bus station.  The museum is open daily, admission is free.

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