Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Holiday in Birmingham

Over the last week I have been on holiday in sunny Birmingham. This blog will simply be on the transport parts of the holiday.

Firstly was a visit to Wythall Transport museum. This had an array of mainly Midland General vehicles all looking imaculate. This also included a trip on an old Bristol L around the local area.

I also had an afternoon in Birmingham City Centre to have a look round the variety. Its quite nice seeing what else is on offer, and workings were quite different to what Plymouth is this days, best of all there wasn't a Vario in sight!!!

As I was saying Tridents were the mainstay of the fleet, along with newer Enviro 400s. The single deck fleet was covered with Mercedes 0405s which I would say were actually nicer than the more modern Citaros, while still being low floor.

Though as is always associated with Birmingham, the thing I really came to see were the MCW Metrobus'. Well before I had been talking to someone who lived in the area, who was saying that the buses are now very rare. Though this seemed to be on a completely different scale to what I would call 'rare'. If I was to call something rare here in Cornwall it would be you'd be lucky to see it once or twice in the day. Yet there were Metrobus' operating every 10minutes!! Yes in comparision they are rare I suppose. There are hundreds of Tridents, Enviros and Geminis on show, but still not what I would describe as rare.

This meant I got a lot of rides on many of the E and F reg Metrobus'. Though in the last hour on a different route than I had been on previous, one of the real survivors showed up. This was one of the much older ROX batch, this one being ROX 654Y. This beast realy did seem that bit better than the newer ones, sounding and going much nicer than the others.

Though next thing I really picked up on was the way the system of buses work differently in the city. Instead of operating a fare stage system, National Express Travel West Midlands have flat rates. This means that it is the same price for every single journey, however long it is. Also all day riders are the same price, instead of being zoneal like the ones in Plymouth and surrounding area. This meant travel was extreamly cheap. Though while buying my ticket I did get some funny looks when I went upto the driver and said in my normal fashion "Hi there, could I have a child day ticket please?" It had to be explained to me that the driver doesn't deal with the fares. Instead there is a hopper as you board the bus where you have to insert the exact fare into the hopper, then while you proceed down the bus, there is a ticket roll which produces the ticket, meaning that boarding the bus is a constant flow which definately speeds the process up. Though the drivers seemed extreamly impacient. As soon as the customer had boarded, even though the fare had not been paid, the drivers already would have pulled off. This was even the same when OAPs were boarding which I thought was particually dangerous, and many of them struggled when they were boarding the bus. Just made me see that we take out much more friendly and laid back drivers in the southwest for granted, though maybe we could pick up tips from a ticket system like this? The only people that would disagree are the people than bring tenners onto the bus!! No way would they be allowed to travel in Birmingham!

As always pictures and videos are avalible in the normal places of the trip.

No comments: