Monday 17 February 2014

Humming Birds and Cigarette Lighters [2] ...

See also "Humming Birds and Cigarette Lighters [1] ..." (here)

Search for four for Lyon?
Lorry driving Dave is stuck near Lyon for two days having used up his driver's hours. From the south east of France he sends a txt to fbb (obvious source of all public transport wisdom!?!) asking for details of the best bus to catch into the city. But it's not as straightforward as that. He is at Neyron which isn't in Lyon but he has seen a bus showing route 4. Could it be the Zi4 as shown on this map.

Alas no!
The Zi4 (Zi for "Zone Industriel") is a Monday to Friday peak hour "works" service ...
... which doesn't go to Neyron. "What is service 4?" is fbb's reply txt. "Dunno," replies Dave, electronically, "but I am passing this bus stop ...
... I'll jump out and have a look." 

"It says Colibri on the stop and there's a timetable and a map in the frame.
This stop is for service 3."

Now we've got something to work on. Indeed there are some pictures of similar stops on-line and, indeed (again!), they are labelled Colibri with a stylised Hummingbird as the "B". Clever eh?
So fbb can now go to the web site and try to sort out what is going on.
In addition to the diagram above, there is a geographical map of the Colibri network ...
... which shows that routes 3 and 4 ...
... connect with Lyon service C2 and C5 at Rillieux Semailles; indeed route 3 also calls at Zac de Sermenaz where David's big blue lorry is parked.
Colibri also runs routea 1 and 2; four services, 20 vehicles and all presented stylishly with cheap fares

In the interests of bloggability, fbb has expurgated the complex txt conversations whizzing mercilessly through the ether between Seaton and Lyon.

Then follows something even more surreal. David sets of to walk between his Zac and Rillieux Semailles guided by fbb with mobile phone wedged against the chubby lug hole and steaming laptop on the table. fbb guides David to what appears to be the nearest terminus for "TCL", i.e.Lyon city services. Why walk when you've got a huge lorry, at the time parked safely at Neyon? Because of driver's hours, David's lorry woud be, effectively, impounded for the weekend, so it would be better to re-park near the Lyon bus terminus (if possible) and avoid repeated walks to and from Neyron.
click on the picture above to enlarge

So it was! David walked back to the Zac, collected his truck and parked near here. On the right (above picture) a turning area for Lyon services C2 and C5 (with trolleybus overhead) and centre left the bus shelters also used by Colibri 3 and 4. It is all so new that Google Streetview doesn't even show the turning circle.
So who, or what is Colibri? As usual in Frace, it is a contracted group of just four services, entirely operated by mini/midi buses; smart vehicles!
The contractor is ...
... a family-run company with many contracts in the area.
Long established and always with smart vehicles.
Colibri, then, is the brand name for a small group of routes providing local services in a collection of communities to the east of Lyon.
In addition to the connection with Lyon city routes at Semailles ...
... the network also links with iner-urban services 132 (Lyon to Bourg-en-Bresse) and 171 (Lyon to Montluel) which run through the centre of Miribel.
These two are operated by "Car-ain"  (Car = coach, Ain is the district name) another Philibert contract.
Indeed Colibri tickets are valid on Car-ain buses within the designated area. A Car-ain video (in French!) is available (here).

A fascinating little operation which puts small-town networks in the UK to shame.

But that's regulated and highly subsidised public transport for you. In the UK we would love the cheap fares and the style but we lack the will to put our hands in our pockets and hand a bit more lolly over to Local or National Government.

 Lots more from Lyon in due course 

 Next technology blog : Tuesday 18th February 


  1. Not sure I see the service as being better than that provided in the UK, though it may look all wizzy and interesting. Given the proximity to Lyon (one of the largest cities in France) and from your map on the previous blog the extent of the urban area you would expect a much better level of service to the area than a half-hourly minibus connecting to a frequent city service at the boundary. You would be expecting decent frequency services running direct in the UK from these outer suburbs directly to the city centre - you just need to look at the frequent networks of services from any major town in the UK to its neighbouring settlements at hourly or better frequencies which are considered the minimum necessary. That level of service as a local service for a small town doesn't appear to be that special either as you can find many locations with similar levels of service. Forcing customers to change buses just because you have reached an arbitrary authority boundary, with the consequent affect on the level of service at the outer bit which will naturally be a bit more marginal as a stand alone, is hardly a good advert for regulated service controlled by local authorities regardless of how much money they get given to do it.

    It may look wizzier with its nice (largely geographically irrelevant) branding, there may be lower (heavily subsidised) fares & services at more unsociable hours (again heavily subsidised) that are nice to haves, but the basic bus network across the whole country in small towns & rural areas tends to have better coverage in the UK than in most other parts of Europe in terms of being able to get somewhere useful at decent frequencies at the times most people want to travel.

  2. Don't forget the "main road" Car-Ain routes, approx 3 an hour.which run direct to Lyon.

    There are now no DIRECT buses from Killamarsh, a small ex-mining town / large village) to Sheffield (for donkey's years every 30 min). But, of course, Killamarsh is across the boundary in dreaded D*rbysh*r*.
    I suppose it depends on where you live. Here in UK and "en France"!

  3. Bus operations in France are very different to the UK. Outside towns they are contracted by the Department, often with a heavy bias towards the movement of schoolchildren. Most networks are inward looking and rarely cross boundaries. Longer journeys are done by train as part of a TER network.
    Very few parts of France have historically had major bus networks. There were more before WW2 but these were strangled by legislation to protect the newly formed SNCF national railway.