NUMBER ONE
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April 21 2016
By Mel Holley

Mel was routeONE magazine’s Editor until autumn 2018. He has more than 30 years’ experience in road and rail transport journalism.


Lack of patronage leads to restructure of
Europe’s longest urban route

A “high-profile” bus route in Coventry is to be restructured into three separate routes, as a result of insufficient passenger numbers.

The 360 City Circle service loops round Coventry and links some of the city’s showpiece locations on one route, including University Hospital, Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Warwick.

The 360 City Circle service loops round Coventry and links some of the city’s showpiece locations on one route, including University Hospital, Jaguar Land Rover and the University of Warwick

But following a review of patronage by Centro, the public transport delivery arm of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA), the route 360 is to be changed from 23 July in a move which breaks up the route.

The 31.5mile service was the longest continuous urban bus route in Europe, taking the title from the 26 mile route 11 Outer Circle service running through Birmingham and Bearwood in the Black Country.

However Steve Hayes, network development and delivery manager for Centro says the 360 is subsidised by the ITA but low passenger numbers meant it was not meeting tough rules allowing the use of taxpayers’ money to support bus services.

In October 2013 a total of 13,714 passengers were carried, while in the same period in 2015 it was 13,949 – an increase of just 235.

“Since its launch the City Circle service has not succeeded overall in growing patronage,” says Mr Hayes.

“The western segment of the route in particular has failed to attract new passengers.

“We are obliged to get best value when using public money to subsidise services, and unfortunately the patronage figures for the 360 mean it is no longer justifiable.”

The 360 runs via the hospital at Walsgrave, Willenhall, Jaguar Land Rover in Whitley, the University of Warwick in Cannon Park, Tile Hill railway station, Whoberley, Whitmore Park, the Ricoh Arena in Rowley’s Green and Arena Shopping Park.

Under the new structure there will be three separate services:

  • Route 60 - University of Warwick to Arena Retail Park via Coventry & Warwickshire University Hospital, operating every 30 minutes, hourly in evenings and Sundays.
  • Route 61 – Allesley Park to Arena Retail Park, operating hourly Monday to Saturday, daytime only.
  • Route 43 – University of Warwick to Eastern Green, operating hourly Monday to Saturday, daytime only.

All the services will continue to be operated by Travel De Courcey of Coventry.

Following consultations with residents and councillors, the new structure will result in improved coverage in Upper Eastern Green in the west of the city from the route 43.

The route 61 will also create a new link to Jardine Crescent and the reintroduction of a service between Winsford Avenue and Arena Retail Park.

Mr Hayes says: “Inevitably there may be some passengers who will be inconvenienced as a result of the changes to the 360 for which we apologise.

“However the new services are designed to give the best value for money and reflect the demand of the public.

“As with all subsidised services we will continue to monitor them to ensure that remains the case.”

Before the launch of the 360 the route 11 had previously held the record of Europe’s longest uninterrupted urban bus route since 1926.

Mr Hayes says: “We are not aware of any other urban routes that may be longer than the route 11 so it would appear to have regained its crown.”




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