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Page first written 25 October 2002
Last updated 25 October 2002
"Scaring double-deck buses"
Digital Camera Report from Birmingham No. 6
The double-decker buses, which I believe is a speciality of UK, dominates the urban public transport in Birmingham, as well as in London where the red bus is even a tourists' attraction. The history of double-deckers seems to date back to the 19th century, when the horse-drawn omnibuses had seats on the roof. Birmingham once had a largest 1067mm-gauge tram network in the whole of Europe, which also had double-deckers from the very beginning of its history. After its closure in July 1953, the buses replaced the trams, which has also followed the tradition of double-deckers to date. However, from a passenger's point of view, the double-decker does not seem to be a good idea. Lower floor cabin being narrow and uncomfortable, upper deck hard to reach especially when travelling with heavy luggages, and even security concerns...
There seems to be many bus operators in Birmingham with the name of "Travel" on it, which does not mean a travel agency in this case. The largest bus company is called West Midlands Travel (on the bus it says "Travel West Midlands"). Travel West Midlands operate on the "no-change" strategy; however, the negotiations with the driver can help when you are short of small changes. There are other operators who does give change, which make the situation apparently confused.
Although buses are apparently a dominant mode of transport in Birmingham area, it is never a friendly mode for newcomers; no annouoncements of next stop, roundabouts confusing the sense of direction, and so on and so forth. However, the negotiations with the drivers can help; they are basically kind and quite willing to tell you where to get off, provided you can understand their English. Unfortunately, this "negotiability" seems to be connected to the drivers' attitude of, for example, ignoring the stop buttons...
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TAKAGI, Ryo firstname.lastname@example.org (c) R. Takagi 2002. All rights reserved.