Friday, 11 May 2018

International Bus Services (3)

Yesterday, through the observations of No 3 son, fbb explored a bus service from the village of Bartenheim (in France) to the suburb of Bachgraben in Switzerland.
fbb struggled with its route number, clearly number 8 on the Distribus web site but number 608 on the Basel bus route map. One on-line source suggests that the 6xx number was in use before Distribus and its well-branded network came into being.
But the Distribus route diagram show three more services which cross the border at Saint Louis ...
... where BLT tram 11 terminates.
The routes parallels the river Rhine and terminate near the Mittlere Brücke (Middle Bridge) and Basel's Schifflände (Ship Landing).
This is on the fringes of the historic centre of Basel - it is almost as if the Swiss didn't really want these furrin' blue buses spoiling their green and yellow public transport network.
Here is a Distribus at the setting down stop near the co-op ...
... whence vehicles continue to pick up at the Schifflände itself (possibly!).
For the record, Schiffs no longer land at the Lände but at a posher terminal close by.
Rhine cruises are still popular and sail in a summer season.
But the route number conundrum still causes some confusion for fbb. Here, for example, is a service 4 (as per the Distribus diagram) ...
... showing service 604!

What is more baffling is to see a 604 at Saint Louis station ...
... standing next to a bus stop flag which clearly advertises service 4.
Curiouser and Curiouser (again).

On line pictures show service 603 ...
... rather than service 3 also picking up in Basel. The Basel network map shows 603 and 604 ...
... but makes no mention of service 7/607. Indeed all on-line pictures of this route only show service 7 with no mention of an added 600!
The above picture is also taken at the Basel stop!!

The French version of the Wikipdia web site seems to follow the practice on the bus blinds.
Histoire : Avant la création du réseau en 1994, la ligne 3 s'appelait ligne 603. Elle garde maintenant ce numéro sur les girouettes des bus et en Suisse.
Histoire : Avant la création du réseau en 1994, la ligne 4 s'appelait ligne 604. Elle garde maintenant ce numéro sur les girouettes des bus (sauf pour les trajets Frontière - Collège Forlen) et en Suisse.

In simple terms the 603 and 604 numbers are used (in theory) when the buses are running in Switzerland and are shown on the "girouettes" (girouette - literally a weathervane???? - bus stop "flags"???)! But we have already seen a 604 at Saint Louis station next to a clearly flagged 4.

Wikipedia does not record the use of 607 and 608, despite their intrusion into Basel. Indeed, fbb could only find one place which mentioned all four cross border routes with 600 added.
A through ticket from France to Switzerland is valid on routes 603. 604, 607 and 608, plus tram 3 (recently extended to Saint Louis in France) as far as the centre of Basel. 

But no changing is permitted on Swiss soil!

fbb is quite sure that local Baselers understand it all but it is a tad baffling for an outsider.

Is there (or was there) anywhere in the UK where buses used a different numbering system if they crossed some notable border?

Having become blogged down with route numbers, tomorrow we will take a pleasant ride from Basel to the far flung suburbs of French Saint Louis.; and meet a Professor who developed fish farming!

 Next Basel bus journey : Saturday 12th May 


  1. The joint Ribble-Eastern/Western cross-border services had two numbers e.g. Liverpool-Edinburgh was Ribble X11 and SMT 501. I can't remember what they displayed on the front.

  2. Girouette = number blind on bus

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