The PrimeLines initiative in Coventry, England, is a £42 million budgeted scheme which aims to improve all aspects of bus journeys on a number of selected showcase routes radiating out from the city centre of Coventry. New bus stops will be wheelchair friendly, with raised kerbs for easier boarding, and new shelters, that are airier and well lit will be built. 
University (12) Corridor
On the "University Corridor" route (number 12 bus), bus lanes and gates have been instituted in various places, and it is estimated that at peak hours the total time for the full journey between the city and Warwick University could be reduced by approximately 1 minute 50 seconds. However, the plans for this were finalized before the Council obtained a report by Jacobs UK Ltd. The report concluded that there were only two "pinch points" on the route, and neither of these has been given any bus priority measures, whereas measures have been put in place where they are not deemed necessary. The bus gates are also interesting in that they often turn red for other traffic when no bus or taxi is approaching.
The PrimeLines route along the Ansty Road, involving as it did the confiscation of private frontages to houses on Ansty Road, amid considerable protest from homeowners, has also attracted controversy.
Previous PrimeLines projects
The PrimeLines scheme is based on bus showcase schemes previously tried in Bristol and Birmingham, none of which delivered significant sustained increase in bus usage or any fall in congestion or total car use.
Controversy of PrimeLines
One of the first bus priority measures for the Coventry scheme, a bus gate at the junction of The Butts and Albany road, had to be dismantled after it caused serious congestion problems for traffic leaving the city centre or coming off the inner ring road. There are reports of increased congestion in traffic coming towards the city centre along the Butts, as the inbound bus lane took out one of three existing lanes, forcing traffic that had used the left-hand lane with the intention of turning left onto the ring road to add to traffic in the middle lane, and then hold up middle lane traffic as vehicles queue in that lane to join the few yards of free road at the end of the bus lane available for cars needing to turn left at the roundabout.
Coventry City Council approval of PrimeLines was secured in part with a claim that congestion would be reduced and that there would be a 25% increase in bus use on all PrimeLines routes, but the claim is wholly unsupported by any evidence, and tends to be contradicted by experience of bus showcase schemes elsewhere in the country: the best single route ever has managed a 25% increase in patronage (though it is not clear how this was calculated), however this seems to have come from increased use by non-car owners; and no better than a 6% shift has been recorded between modes of transport, and there is no evidence that this is sustained. Centro’s own figures indicate that bus showcase schemes offer at best a 15% increase in usage on those specific routes where every conceivable improvement is implemented, with no indication of how much of this comes from a shift from private cars to buses.
There appears to be no evidence available as to whether drivers of other vehicles, held up by bus priority measures and the general congestion caused by them, try to make up time by driving faster or otherwise more hazardously when the opportunity presents itself, nor on whether such measures may aggravate the phenomenon of "road rage".
The PrimeLines consortium held a public consultation on elements of the University Corridor PrimeLines scheme, in a bus on a car park between the back of the Old Clarence public house and what was then the building site for a new block of flats, during August 2007. According to a report to the Council’s Cabinet, around 100 people attended this and 29 people were in support of the bus lane scheme. A petition against the scheme totalling 1,928 signatures was also received by the Council.
Future of the scheme
Eventually many of the shelters will have electronic passenger information installed, so waiting passengers will know when the next bus is due. To improve reliability, the routes will have bus priority measures implemented at traffic signals and junctions, and where possible there will be lengths of bus lanes to get the bus past general traffic queues.
- Coventry City Council - PrimeLines Information
- Jacobs UK Ltd - Primelines bus corridor 7 feasibility report, November 2006 - February 2007
- Labour Councillors - "Butts Bus Gate is money down the drain"
- Coventry City Council - PrimeLines Works on the Tile Hill Corridor
- Coventry City Council report to cabinet - Petition of objection to highway works on Hearsall Common, 6 November 2007
- Birmingham City Council - "Building Bus Use", 9 January 2007
- Centro - "Transforming Bus Travel", February 2008