New era for bus travel in Coventry
People in Coventry today see the dawn of a new era for bus travel in the city which brings together the latest in state-of-the-art technology, vehicles, passenger information and highways improvements to provide one of the UK’s most modern bus networks.
Coventry City Council, transport authority Centro and bus company National Express Coventry together with Coventry South MP Jim Cunningham officially launched the £41.5m Primelines project today (Monday 6 July 2009) which uses a raft of high-tech equipment to provide the best in passenger services.
Improvements include £7m investment in low floor, easy access buses by National Express Coventry, and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) tracking devices on all 156 of their vehicles across the city which pinpoints exactly where the buses are on their route.
These link in to Real Time Information displays at over 200 bus stops across the city and 30 displays at Pool Meadow Bus Station, giving passengers an up-to-the-minute count down of when their bus will arrive.
All National Express Coventry buses can now travel around the city more quickly and easily, avoiding traffic jams thanks to the installation of 5.3km of bus lanes, 13 bus gates and bus bypasses, 4.9km of other bus priority measures.
Figures from Coventry City Council and Centro show that these measures have already seen an increase in reliability of 26 per cent and punctuality improving by 40 per cent.
This has led to the number of people using buses on Primelines routes rising by an average of six per cent with nearly one fifth of people on the road now travelling into the city by bus in the morning peak.
Cllr Kevin Foster, Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council said: "This project has been a step change in the way we look at creating bus transport schemes for the city.
“Working together with a range of partners we are making a difference to improving the whole journey for customers. This project has not just been about the bus lanes, but about the whole passenger experience including getting to the bus stops and having reliable and accurate timetable information.”
Cllr Gary Clarke, Chairman of Centro added: “We are living in a digital age with new state-of-the-art technology emerging on a daily basis. In Coventry we have shown how we can take advantage of this technology to provide a world class bus network fit for 21st century passengers, providing up-to-the-minute information and reliable buses that move quickly through traffic and run to time.
“These measures really help to build confidence in the network and this has already shown results with more people opting to take the easy and convenient option of the bus instead of the car.”
The Real Time Information and Automatic Vehicle Location uses the largest MESH network in the UK, utilising fibre optic technology and special nodes on lampposts to send live information from buses to the passenger information displays.
This information, together with satellite technology, is also be used by National Express Coventry to identify buses running ahead or behind schedule and adjust the service in line with the timetable.
Alex Perry Operations Director for National Express bus and coach, said: “The installation of Real Time Information at Coventry bus stops is an important milestone in the success of the Primelines project.
“From today National Express Coventry buses will transmit up to the minute arrival details to bus stops throughout the city, helping to reduce passenger waiting times and allow us to closely monitor traffic. We are also proud to announce that our entire fleet is now low floor, easy access - making Coventry the first city in the West Midlands to have a fully accessible bus fleet."
Traffic lights at 80 junctions across Coventry will soon be able to recognise National Express buses, turning to green as they approach to further improve journey times and ensure that services are reliable.
All 1,500 stops across Coventry also allow passengers to get Real Time Information on their bus service by text message or by using the internet facility on their mobile phone, PDA or BlackBerry.
The Primelines project, which focuses on six key bus routes across the city, has also seen the installation of 507 parking bays and many new bus shelters. The low floor kneeling buses are complemented by easy access kerbing at bus stops.
The £41.5m project is made up of approximately £28.5m from the Government as part of the Local Transport Plan Major Schemes Programme, £5.75m from West Midlands Integrated Transport Block Funding and £7.25m investment in vehicles from National Express Coventry.