If you are heading for Birmingham Airport, or just trying to get to somewhere on time then be aware that the M42 Motorway (Runs around the south side of Birmingham) is one of the worst traffic blackspots (can you still use that word in these PC correct days) on the British Motorway network.
For light relief on the Eastbound carriageway around junction 3 is a distance sign listing a number of destinations. On of these is to the nearest Service area, only the 'SER' has been lost - so it reads "vices - 34". Now that's what I call a sign !
Arriving by coach ? In the past you had to enter a tin-shed that would disgrace a third-word banana republic. It is deeply depressing.
Sooner or later, the new coach station will appear - it certainly can't be any worse than the old one. Plans currently put the new 'gateway for the city' to be ready for early 2009.
Thus Digbeth is no more ! and you arrive on some bomb-site nect door.
Do not try and travel on the trains without a ticket or a "Permit to Travel" or you may risk a GBP20 penalty. All of the West Midlands travel area is covered by a Penalty Fare Zone.
Basically many of the rural suburban stations have no booking office and many others the booking office closes by about 7pm, or 8pm, but have a "Permit to Travel" machine. Put a GBP1 or 2 in the machine. Take the printed voucher and you then pay the guard on the train. Increasingly you train may be pounced upon a group of Revenue Inspectors who will block all the doors of the carriage and if you have neither a ticket nor a "Permit to Travel" will fine you GBP20 on the spot.
Watch out on the buses especially late at night & if your on your own, if you sit upstairs on the double decker buses you are putting yourself at a risk of something bad happening from a robbery or worse!
Since 'sourbugger' posted his warning about Digbeth coach station in 2008, I am proud (well that might be exaggerating!) to say that the coach station is completely new, with a Starbucks, and seating and free 'Metro' newspapers'. The one things that doesn't work properly are the digital screens!
When coming home from a late night out especially if you have had something to drink, picking the right kind of taxi is very important.
Its is extremely dangerous to get into an unmarked taxi.
Here are some tips:
1. Always try to chose one of the standard black cabs.
2. Don't travel alone.
3. Travel with some friends.
4. Get out of the taxi at the same time as your friends.
5. If not hailing a taxi order a taxi to pick you up at a specific time and place from your local company.
6. Be careful not to leave anything valuable such as purses or mobile phones in the taxi, you might not get it back.
Be careful and have fun!:)
Pick up a public transport map from the Central Library (these used to be free assume they still are) this tells you how to get to anywhere and where the bus stops are etc. You will be completely lost without it! I would also recommend getting an A-Z so you can track where you are going using the A-Z together with the map. The public transport system, IMHO, is brill. Buses go everywhere, numbers 11 and 8 do circular routes around Brum (but be careful whether you choose to go clockwise eg 11C or anticlockwise eg 11A - I have been told the whole route of the number 11 takes about 3 hours to complete!). Metro is handy for getting to Wolverhampton. Forget the Centro (train) system trains are usually late and infrequent - I would go for a bus every time.
I would also recommend checking out Traveline's section on the West Midlands.
public transportation: Try not to use the public transport system, ´cause you will defenetly not find your aim. There are no timetabels at the bus stops and the busdrivers only know there 'own' route. Don´t ask them for the way.
Ok, to begin, I'm from Canada... I drive on the "OTHER" side of the road... I want a sign in the back window of a rental/hired car which reads: "YES! I Am one of those D*#n Tourists! Stay far away!!!!" In any case, arrived by train at Birmingham's NEW STATION... hired a car... no problem. Headed out towards the motor route... nobody told me that it was called "Spagetti Junction" or that the drivers are going 100 miles an hour on it. You get on at the left side and within a very short distance I needed to get to the far right side! This is my idea of Hell! One other thing... tell your spouse before you get started to just put a sock in it! if he/she can't be of assistance... I mean real help, not just "You are supposed to be over there!" Marriages can end there. But in all seriousness, that is one horrible place to try to merge onto - you gotta just give it all your gusto and go for it! Do make sure that you have good health insurance before you attempt this.
Minicabs - they are all supposed to be licensed from the Council, and will display a long yellow sticker/sign in the back declaring they are. They are not allowed to just pick you up after you hail them, only black cabs can do this, but at kicking out time for the pubs and clubs you'll always find minicabs waiting outside. Technically, you are not insured if you get in a minicab you have not booked but many people do it anyway - me included! My experiences have been mixed with minicabs in the early hours of the morning, and I wouldn't recommend any women getting into one alone, just in case. Letchy drivers is the last things you want when you can't even see straight!
There are also totally unlicensed cars that will offer to take you home - they always charge way over the odds and could be dangerous.... check for the license!