BiCon comes to Nottingham this weekend, so I thought I’d deploy some of my local knowledge to be useful to people :-)
This post is mainly about buses and bus stops… but I must also say first, don’t be misled by the tram testing! The trams which go to the new tram stop at the University are being tested at the moment, and so is the automated signage about it. You might see some info that claims they go there, and you might even see trams running there. But, as of the time of me writing this post, they’re not taking passengers yet!
On to buses…
General bus info
There are two main bus companies in Nottingham: Nottingham City Transport (NCT), and Trent Barton. Their fares are broadly comparable. Other companies do only relatively few routes.
[Edited to add: Both these companies accept “English National Concessionary Travel Scheme” passes. Thanks to @applewriter for raising this point! NCT concessions page. Trent Barton concessions page.]
All Trent Barton buses have wheelchair access – one wheelchair or scooter per bus. A lot of NCT buses do too, but some NCT routes still use older buses with steps to get on.
Most buses have screens and/or announcements which name the bus stop coming up next, so it’s quite useful to know the name of the stop you want.
Each bus stop also has a unique code number at the top corner of the bus stop sign, e.g. A3, S5. I’ll refer to these. (Useful if you need to distinguish between stops with the same name, e.g. which side of the road is which direction.)
Many Nottingham bus stops have a display which includes real-time information from the buses moving around. This info is displayed as a timing estimate, like e.g. “2 mins”, “1 min”, “due”. If a clock time such as “11.50″ is shown instead, it means that particular bus isn’t transmitting, and that’s just the timetable time. Caution: I have known Nottingham buses to come about 2 mins before the supposedly-real-time estimator says they’re due. I don’t know why this is.
See below for mobile apps which show routes and duplicate the real-time bus info for NCT buses, and for more about fares and tickets.
Destinations relevant to BiCon 2015
Going to BiCon 2015, you’re most likely heading for one of two main places when you first arrive.
One is Lenton Hall: most of the accommodation, and also the place where you pick up keys to any other accommodation.
The other, on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, is the Engineering Science & Learning Centre: main venue for the daytime scheduling such as workshop sessions, marketplace and plenaries.
Lenton Hall by bus: recommended bus stop
(Yes, it’s technically called “Lenton and Wortley Hall”. Historical reasons. Don’t worry about it.)
The main bus stop for Lenton Hall is actually called Lenton Hall. It’s on Derby Road, which runs along the north edge of the university campus. The code for this stop is UN16.
Near the bus stop, maybe 10 or 20 metres back along the road you just drove down, there’s a little path heading onto campus. When you walk through the gap in the fence, you’re heading towards the back of Lenton Hall itself.
To walk round to the hall’s main entrance from the bus stop, it’s about 250 metres including a bit of slightly bumpy ground (cutting across a worn-out bit of lawn, where the paved path has five steps), or 150 metres including a flight of 15 steps.
I took this next photo standing at the bus stop, and the building in the middle of the picture is the back of Lenton Hall. The fence in the foreground marks the edge of the campus.
On the left hand edge of the picture, there’s a little bit of the corner of another building, painted a light colour. The path onto campus starts where that other building meets the road.
Buses which call at this stop: 35, 36, Y36, i4 and 21.
If you’re arriving after about midnight, see section below about alternative night time bus stop.
On to recommended routes…
From railway station or Broadmarsh bus station to Lenton Hall: recommended bus i4
From the railway station or Broadmarsh bus station to Lenton Hall, I would recommend Trent Barton’s i4. Or, if saving about 200 metres of walking is worth the bother to you of taking two buses instead of one, see “minimising walking” section below.
The i4 leaves from Broadmarsh bus station. The distance from the railway station to Broadmarsh bus station is about 250 metres.
The i4 runs frequently during the day, dwindling down to every half hour after 8pm, with a few night buses too. Timetable for the i4. That timetable doesn’t list every stop; Lenton Hall stop comes shortly after the one called “QMC Front”.
The i4 bus is usually blue – a rather nice slightly greenish blue.
The 21 is also a Trent Barton one. It leaves from Broadmarsh bus station and goes the same route as the i4 as far as we’re interested in, so would be fine if you happen to see one – I’m only not talking about it much because there’s hardly any of them.
From Victoria bus station to Lenton Hall: recommended buses 35 and 36
From Victoria bus station to Lenton Hall, I would pick instead Nottingham City Transport’s 35 or 36.
Victoria Bus Station is at the north end of the Victoria Centre (Vicky Centre), a big indoor shopping centre towards the north side of Nottingham city centre.
Like the i4, the 35 and 36 go to the Lenton Hall bus stop described above, frequently during the day. The difference we’re interested in here is just that the 35 and 36 are more convenient for catching from that side of town.
In town, there are bus stops for the 35 and 36 just by the side of the Vicky Centre, next to John Lewis. From the Victoria bus station, it’s about 400 or 500 metres to these bus stops.
35 versus 36 doesn’t matter, as the routes don’t diverge till further out of town.
The Nottingham City bus routes are named after colours, and the 35 and 36 are both “Orange Line”. They’re usually orange-coloured buses.
The Y36 duplicates the 36 route out of town, and is run by a rival company, Yourbus. Those ones are usually a dark red/burgundy sort of colour.
34 to Lenton Hall means more walking
The 34, which is also an “orange line” bus, doesn’t go to the Lenton Hall stop; instead, it goes onto campus at the North Entrance, and across campus.
There’s not that many 34s out of term-time. The holiday timetable is only about one every half hour. I would suggest it’s only worth waiting for one if you’re heading to the ESLC and want to minimise the distance (see below). You would get off at the stop called George Green Library*.
If you did get the 34 for Lenton Hall, you’d still want to get off at the stop called George Green Library*, and you’d then have to walk about 500 metres to get to Lenton Hall, including some uphill.
(The George Green Library* stop is also a reasonable one for Hugh Stewart hall.)
Note that the 34 also takes a different route in the city centre compared to the 35 or 36; it does the “City Loop”, which the 35 and 36 don’t.
* The stop called George Green Library used to be known as “Science Department” or “Science Area”, and still appears by that name on some maps.
Minimising walking in town
All the Orange Line buses, and all the Green Line buses, stop near the central library on Angel Row in the city centre. This means that if you specially want to minimise walking from the railway station, you can use these buses instead of walking about 250m to Broadmarsh to get the i4. The less-walking version is to get a Green Line bus from stop S5 opposite the railway station, and let it take you up to Angel Row, then change onto the 35 or 36.
On Angel Row, the two “Orange line” stops (A3, A4) are about 30 to 50 metres from the two “Green line” stops (A1, A2), and slightly uphill.
Lenton Hall by bus: alternative night time bus stop
Aside from the main Lenton Hall bus stop on the big main road, there’s also a bus stop on the campus side of the hall, on the little road which winds around the campus. This only operates on Friday and Saturday nights, and the buses which go there are the N34 and N36. (N is for “Night bus”, and the routes are slightly different from the daytime 34 and 36.)
This night time bus stop is called “Lenton and Wortley Hall”, and its bus stop code is UN43. This stop is maybe 250 metres from the main doors into Lenton Hall, 100 metres from the hall’s front fence.
(Note that the i4 also runs at night, and goes to the “main” stop.)
The Engineering Science & Learning Centre (ESLC), by bus
The ESLC is next to the Tower building, and the Tower building is visible on the skyline from a long way away, which makes it a very good landmark.
Next photo shows them next to each other. The one with the curved roof is the ESLC.
(This pic is from 2013, and it’s not as tidy as that at the moment, because of the building work.)
All the buses to the “Lenton Hall” stop, discussed above – 35, 36, Y36, i4, 21 – also call at the stop whose name is “University North Entrance“. The code for this bus stop is UN15.
This is a sensible bus stop from which to head onto campus and down into “Science City”, more prosaically known as “The Science Area”, which is a whole bunch of sciencey buildings including the ESLC.
From the North Entrance bus stop to the ESLC, it’s about 400 to 450 metres by a flat/sloping route, or perhaps marginally less by a stepped path.
Map showing where I’m talking about. Pointer is at the place where you choose between the steps (in red) or the flat route (the minor road heading south-west). North Entrance bus stop is up and to the left.
If distance from the bus stop is an issue, I’d suggest it is worth waiting for the 34 bus; the distance from the George Green Library bus stop to the ESLC is more like 250 metres.
Caution: As there’s building work around the library at the moment, it’s conceivable that the direct route from the library bus stop could be blocked. I think that’s fairly unlikely; it’s the main pedestrian route into Science City, and when I was there last week, a lot of people were using it. And they’d obviously gone to a lot of trouble to make that work, including a temporary concrete ramp. So I’d be fairly surprised if they blocked it off at this stage. But if anyone does encounter it blocked off over the next few days, please comment, and I’ll update.
Tickets and fares
Going on a bus, you pay as you get on. Nottingham City Transport buses don’t give change. Trent Barton buses do give change.
If you’re going on more than one NCT bus journey, then you probably want a City Rider ticket which gets you onto all Nottingham City Transport buses for a day (but not the Trent Barton buses). Sometimes during weekends and holidays, a Group Rider may work out cheaper.
(If you come to live in Nottingham, or visit a lot, you probably want a Citycard for use with NCT buses, and a Mango card for Trent Barton and the tram.)
Apps for smartphones
Nottingham City Transport has its own bus time app, for both iphone & Android. It asks you for an email address before you get to see any info, and I don’t like that, so I don’t use it.
The one I use (and think is good) is “NBT Nottingham Bus Timetable”, a lovely little Android app which is FREE. Get “NBT Nottingham Bus Timetable” app (if you have Android). I don’t know if that has an iphone equivalent.
I’ve not seen an app for Trent Barton buses. NBT is only for Nottingham City Transport buses.
For NCT buses, it duplicates the radio-controlled bus stop displays. I find it useful for knowing the approx remaining time you can carry on doing something before going to get your bus.
The NBT app also links up to Google Maps. A tip for those only using wifi, not mobile data: as long as you’ve opened the right window before you leave a wi-fi zone, it seems to carry on tracking where you are by the ordinary mobile signal.
Corrections, updates and questions welcome
Nottingham folks, what did I miss?
I don’t guarantee to answer questions about this, but subject to time, and subject to me being able to find out the answer, I might do, so feel free to ask :-)