BUS SERVICES IN COTENTIN IN 1934
A look back at the comprehensive network of country buses that existed in the mid 1930s
Retour sur le réseau complet de bus interurbains qui existait au milieu des années 1930.
During the early and mid 1930s a considerable network of country and interurban bus routes operated in the Cotentin area of the Manche département. This was prior to the government's co-ordination and control of bus services in 1935, aimed at eliminating wasteful competition between operators which had sprung up in many places. Sometimes this included a commercial operation in competition with a subsidised service contracted by the département. The départemental subsidies were underwritten in part by the national government who after the end of the First World War encouraged the introduction of départemental networks as a way of completing a useful transport facility at a time when many railways had become too expensive and uneconomical both to build and to operate. Further consideration to reduce direct competition between bus and train was implemented prior to the nationalisation of the regional railway companies in 1938 to form SNCF. The outbreak of war in 1939 and the occupation of France had consequences for bus operation through shortage of materials and fuel.
Les Rapides de Normandie was a commercial competitive operation promoted by bus and car manufacturer Citroen in 1932 which lasted for only a few years in consequence of the rationalisation procedures mentioned above. It became one of the three companies that came together in Caen (Calvados) in 1937 to establish Les Courriers Normands (now Bus Verts of Calvados since 1981). SGTD was the Société Générale des Transports Départementaux, a national company, founded in 1919, with regional operations in many French départements, often using the Courriers trading name (as in Courriers Normands). SATOS was the associated bus company of the regional rail company (Société Auxiliaire des Transports Automobiles de l'Ouest et du Sud-Ouest). Société Centrale de Chemins de Fer et d'Entreprises (SCF) and Chemins de Fer Normands (CFN) were Verney group companies which would later be reorganised locally as the modern day bus operator in the Manche département, Société des Transports de Normandie (STN).
Present day interurban and rural bus services are but a shadow
the services of
seventy years ago, although we should not judge operations in France by
English standards alone given a range of differences in operating
circumstances and travel needs. In many towns and cities an adequate
daytime service has been maintained throughout the years, often
supported by the relevant local authority. But with the advent of the
21st century interurban services have undergone a renaissance in many
areas with new départemental networks. Thus in the département of
Manche a new
of interurban routes and supporting local services named Manéo was
introduced in 2007. Subsequently this departmental system of routes was subsumed into the regional Nomad bus network in 2019.
The information in the tables that follow is taken from the
Indicateur Nationale du Tourisme Quillet of August 1934. It was already
little out of date when published as the Rapides de Normandie withdrew
their routes in Manche and Cotentin after operation on Sunday 29th July
The co-ordination legislation for road and rail saw their routes
Caen and St-Lô pass to Courriers Normands
of Caen, whilst the route from St-Lô
to Cherbourg via Carentan and Valognes passed jointly to SGTD and SCF;
for the other route, from St-Lô
to Cherbourg via Coutances and Bricquebec, buses were to disappear from
the middle section between Coutances and Bricquebec for many years
until the closure of the parallel Coutances - Cherbourg rail line to
passengers in 1970. There then followed a rail replacement bus service
which declined over the years to school and college journeys only.
I would be very pleased to learn more about these routes if any French readers of this page have further information !
Si les lecteurs français de cette page pouvaient m'apporter des informations complémentaires, je leur en serais reconnaisant!
Further information and represemtative timetables from the 1930s can be found here
Follow this link to Buses of Cotentin 2004 - later country bus routes in the département of Manche