New bus service to be launched between Bromsgrove, Rubery and Longbridge as 'solution' to 144 cuts - The Droitwich Standard
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16th Aug, 2022

New bus service to be launched between Bromsgrove, Rubery and Longbridge as 'solution' to 144 cuts

Tristan Harris 28th Apr, 2022 Updated: 28th Apr, 2022

A NEW bus service will be introduced between Bromsgrove Bus Station, Rubery and Longbridge on Tuesday, May 3, as a solution to the loss of the section of the 144 which goes to Birmingham.

Campaigners battled hard to get the 144 route to continue between Worcester, Droitwich, Bromsgrove and Birmingham but, as First Bus Worcester had planned, the service will terminate in Catshill from Sunday.

The new hourly Monday to Saturday service – run by National Express West Midlands (NXWM) – is aimed at giving passengers the chance to get to a place where they can use other services to Birmingham city centre, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and other areas.

NXWM and Worcestershire County Council entered into an agreement regarding the route which will last for six months while the authority reviews the network and vies to reach a longer term solution.

A timetable is due to be released shortly.

There will be mixed feelings about the changes and convenience and cost implications on bus users, particularly with no Sunday service.

National Express West Midlands operates a ‘card tap’ scheme in Birmingham which sees passengers pay £2.50 for one journey and £4 (capped) for any after that. Should the bus be included in that, it could prove cheaper from Bromsgrove than staying on the 144 despite changes.

But Droitwich passengers would need a bus from another operator which could incur extra costs. It is not clear if there will be tickets available that could be used on both services and reduce the price.

And – with the 144 being a century-old service, there will be some sadness about the history of the Worcester (once Malvern) to Birmingham bus no longer running.

We have been inundated with letters over the past three weeks from bus users concerned about how they would get to work, colleges, medical appointments, shops and leisure venues.

From May 3, when children return to school, the S45 school service will serve the current 144 route.

The Standard has attempted to contact National Express regarding the route and charges but so far no-one has been available for comment.

Droitwich Town Council sends letter to Worcestershire transport chief

A LETTER was sent this week on behalf of Droitwich Town Council to Coun Alan Amos, who is responsible for highways and transport on Worcestershire County Council, stressing the importance of the 144 service and a solution.

Here is the letter from the Mayor of Droitwich Spa, Coun Bill Moy, and Droitwich Town Clerk Mark Keld:

Dear Councillor Amos,

The Town Council have been made aware of the proposed changes to the above detailed route scheduling of services and it is fully understood that this is a commercially sensitive matter which is subject to ongoing negotiations with the operating company.

The service is a very busy and vital link of public transport for many Droitwich Spa residents who rely on the route to travel to Birmingham and Worcester, as well as all destinations in between.

The economic means, frequencies and reliability of the service are all important factors to support the wide variety of daily travel circumstances and passenger spectrum across all ages.

These include commuters for employment and business, families and carer responsibilities, students for college and university, children’s nursery and school journeys, essential shopping and leisure.

The service also helps to support green initiatives and the environment with the reduction in carbon footprints by encouraging the use of an efficient arterial route for commuters rather than private vehicles.

The buses accessibility and efficiency of travel are a key attribute for the local Worcestershire and the wider West Midlands economies.

The Town Council fully supports the approach being taken by yourself and the Worcestershire County Council Highways and Transport Strategy Department in working with First Bus in order to maintain an efficient and reliable service.

This in turn will provide much reassurance to many Droitwich Spa residents.

The matter was discussed in open session at the Town Council Meeting on Monday, April 25, 2022 and Councillor Brookes has updated on the progress being made. On behalf of the Town Council I express my sincere appreciation for your endeavours towards achieving a workable solution.

Mayor of Droitwich Spa                           Droitwich Town Clerk

Coun Bill Moy                                            Mark Keld

The Standard says….

WHILST it is good news a ‘solution’ has been found to bridge the gap between Bromsgrove and Birmingham left by the cutting back of the 144, it feels as there are currently more questions than answers.

No Sunday service will cause problems for some – and would have done last Sunday when the CrossCity Line was shut – and there could be extra costs for commuters and passengers if they need other transport to get to Bromsgrove Bus Station.

Hopefully the ‘longer-term solution’ the county council is seeking will benefit all bus users.

It is also a shame the historical route – which has run since 1914 and holds many precious memories for many – has been curtailed and looks to never be the same again.

We will wait and see.

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