A ‘VOID’ left by the controversial rerouting of a vital bus service which operated on the Bromsgrove-Birmingham border looks set to be filled with changes to another service.
The Standard reported last month how two councillors – Coun Andy Cartwright, the Longbridge representative on Birmingham City Council and Coun Peter McDonald, the Rubery member on Bromsgrove District – had launched a campaign after alterations were made to the 45.
They had been contacted by more than 20 residents in Cofton Hackett about the issue. Some of working age said they had struggled to get to their jobs and elderly residents in the area voiced concerns about not being able to get to the shops they used or attend medical appointments.
Now the pair say, after they contacted operators Centro and National Express, there is a new plan in the pipeline to reroute the nearby 98 bus around Cofton which would actually ‘enhance’ the local public transport services there.
As well as providing access to people’s places of works, shops and GP surgeries, the 98 also goes to the Queen Elizabeth and Birmingham Women’s hospitals.
Coun Cartwright said: “It is great news because we all need those hospitals at some stage and the new route will make them easier to get to.
“It is especially welcome with the changes made in Worcestershire recently which has seen maternity services taken out of the Alexandra Hospital.
“I would like to thank Coun McDonald and Coun Kath Hartley, Birmingham City Council’s cabinet representative for the Centro Members Joint Committee, who has worked hard and helped with this issue.
“This has shown what cross-border working is all about – joining forces for the good of residents and the community.
“Getting this bus service operating in the area is about young people being able to get to college, people getting to work and to the shops but, by bringing the 98 into play, we are enhancing the public transport options and making vital local services more accessible.”
Coun McDonald said: “I am very pleased that the officers and politicians from both sides worked so closely together for the benefit of the whole community.
“Residents can now not only travel as they did when the 45 bus was in operation but they will also be able to ravel straight to the hospital – no longer having the inconvenience of catching two buses is major enhancement on the previous service.”
The original changes to the 45 came about after a letter to National Express by Bromsgrove MP and Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, who had received complaints from residents living near the 45 terminus in Cofton Hackett about the buses using the area.
But the changes meant some residents, many who were elderly, would have to walk two miles to their nearest bus stop and so the campaign was launched to get something done.
A spokesperson for National Express West Midlands confirmed a stop would be put in Cofton Hackett for the 98 bus to serve residents there, adding the provider was in talks with Worcestershire County Council about where exactly the stop would be.
And he added the company was also looking again at the 45 and 47 routes to see if anything could be done with those.
A Worcestershire County Council spokesperson said the authority welcomed any enhancement to local public bus services within the county.”