BUS USERS have flooded our inbox with letters about the new 144 timetable which came into force on Monday.
The current 27 services to Birmingham from the town and the 27 the other way were reduced to 15 from Bromsgrove to Birmingham and 12 in the opposite direction.
From Monday the half-hourly weekday service between Bromsgrove and Birmingham was reduced to an hourly one, including at peak times.
Half the services from Worcester which usually continue to Birmingham before turning around and coming back will terminate at Bromsgrove.
First Worcester made changes to one of its bus schedules this week to help pupils in Rubery and Rednal get to school on time.
But, as the new timetable was introduced on Monday, campaigners said the changes to the S45 still did nothing to help those travelling from Northfield and Longbridge.
The letters surrounding a variety of issues relating to the 144 that were sent into the paper have been passed onto First Worcester.
Nigel Eggleton, First Worcester’s managing director, responded to our readers’ letters and we printed as many as we could squeeze in to this week’s paper.
All the letters we have had can be read in full below his comment.
Mr Eggleton said: “It is most disappointing to make a change such as this.
“Regrettably route 144 loses money on the section of route north of Bromsgrove.
“Revenue over the past six months has covered roughly 65 per cent of the cost of operation so we must take action to change an unsustainable situation.
“We do so in the knowledge that some custom will be lost but at a lesser rate than the cost saved.
“Regrettably that saving also needs to include the peak period so that vehicle resource savings can be achieved.
“The frequency of service between Worcester and Bromsgrove remains similar albeit with some minor timetable changes designed to improve punctuality.
“The branding of the route has proved highly successful between the two places although not towards Birmingham where the level of frequency offered by National Express along the Bristol Road offers to local residents a superior product.
“I very much share your concern about the environmental damage such a decision can potentially cause.
“That’s such a dilemma when financial performance of a bus route dictates its service pattern.
“Perhaps there is a role for public funding to avoid such cutbacks.”
Driving people away from public transport
THE changes on the 144 are having a devastating effect on many people, especially those commuters that are trying to be green and get public transport to work – thanks to this decision they may well be going back to driving in.
It seems such an ill conceived and thoughtless decision – are they deliberately trying to drive people away from using the company?
I have never got on an empty bus so I would disagree with Nigel Eggleton’s statement that there are a lot less people travelling from Bromsgrove to Birmingham.
And although the company seems keen to look after college commuters it feels like the rest of us who will be leaving First now are not worthy of consideration.
No transport option for my family
My family are planning a move to Worcester, and my two daughters will remain at their schools in Bromsgrove.
I initially naively assumed there would be either a bus or train to get them from Worcester to Bromsgrove in the morning in time for school, but there is neither.
The 144 arrives in Bromsgrove at either 7.58am, which means that they would have the best part of an hour to kill before school, or at 8.43am, which does not leave them enough time to get to school from the bus station.
The trains are worse, arriving in Bromsgrove at either 7.22am, or 8.42am.
It’s inconvenient, although not a problem, to drive my daughters to Bromsgrove every morning, but it seems nuts that there is no public transport service that can get someone from Worcester to Bromsgrove in time for work or school before 9am.
Hopeful of common sense after ‘unbelievable cuts’
After learning First was reducing the 144 service to one an hour, I could not quite believe it.
This is going to inconvenience so many people, especially school children and people getting to work.
I am actually retired, but I use this service quite regularly for getting from Rubery to Birmingham in preference to the number 63 service, which has a great deal more stops and hence takes a lot longer.
With the soon to be introduced congestion charges in Birmingham city centre, which one assumes is to reduce traffic numbers and pollution, shouldn’t public transport be increasing and not being reduced.
I read in your article in last week’s Standard that First may put on more buses at peak times after succumbing to a certain amount of pressure.
We can but hope that those who make the decisions at First Midland Red, will see sense and bring back the twice hourly service.
There’s just no flexibility
I USE the 144 service between Rubery to Birmingham (and back) every weekday.
I can be flexible with my start time at my workplace but I am contracted to work six hours.
Currently I catch the 6.49am bus and start work at 7.30am.
From next week I can arrive at 7am or 8am but when I leave work at either 1pm or 2pm the bus to return home is then either 1.55pm or 2.55pm.
So I am very disappointed with this.
I like to buy a monthly ticket in order to travel to Bromsgrove, Droitwich or Worcester at the weekend.
However, my main concern is for others who I see use this bus day after day, construction workers who obviously need to arrive in town for 7.30am but will now have to get up even earlier (they appear to live in Bromsgrove so National Express is out of the question).
If you take a trip on the 63 National Express service you will quickly realise why some of us would like to continue to support First buses!
My daughter catches the 7.37am bus (also being axed) in order to arrive in town with plenty of time to start work at 9am.
She will now have to arrive at 8am which is far too early.
I can understand cuts throughout the day but not to affect people who are just trying to arrive at their workplace on time.
I also assume that when they recently abandoned the £10 per week Birmingham Zone ticket and raised the price to £23 this was to try and put us off travelling to Birmingham!
Limited alternatives to the 144
I AM disgusted at these changes.
As a bus commuter who travels from Catshill, it will make a frequently difficult journey far worse.
We were initially informed the commuter times would be unchanged but hourly in the day.
This is not the case, currently five buses in the morning at commuter times are being reduced to three. At the moment I can get to work on time using either of the first two.
My only option will be the first bus in the morning.
Returning in the evening there are currently again five which will be reducing to two (not an hourly service).
What happens when a bus breaks down? It frequently happens. That will mean two-hourly buses.
All commuters are furious.
People are trying to change their working hours or asking if they can work through their lunch.
We understand that first are doing this so they can run more shorter routes around Worcester to maximise their profits.
This is at a time when people are encouraged to use public transport, and Birmingham has announced the closure of the city centre to private cars.
People should complain to the Bus Commissioner, not First.
It should not be allowed to use the word service, because there isn’t one.
Angry of Catshill
Extending to Longbirdge would make a big difference
I READ your article about the 144 changing its timetable to an hourly service into Birmingham.
I also agree that if the service was extended to Longbridge.
It would be a much better idea has it would link up to the West Midlands bus service otherwise it’s going to have a big impact on everyone who uses this service!
So many people rely on this service
I CURRENTLY buy the £70 monthly 144 bus ticket to get to and from Rubery and Birmingham for my work.
I also use the 144 to go from Rubery to Bromsgrove frequently.
I have to be in work for 9am and I finish at 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.
I think that it is absolutely ridiculous they are cutting the 7.13am bus from Bromsgrove to Birmingham that gets us into Birmingham for 8.23am.
There are about ten to 15 regular passengers on this bus every day, all relying on it to get to work/school/college.
After the changes, there will be no bus that gets us into Birmingham realistically before 9am without us arriving an hour and 15 minutes before we need to.
According to the timetables, there is a bus that gets into Birmingham at 8.48am but in reality this is never the case!
The rush hour traffic makes this near on impossible.
I understand that they need to reduce the number of buses throughout the middle of the day if there are few passengers, but cutting out these peak time buses is a terrible decision!
From speaking to other 144 passengers, they will be finding alternative transport after these changes if they do not reinstate these peak time buses, myself included.
Fare increase adds insult to injury
I WANTED to thank you for your recent article reference the 144 Birmingham to Worcester route.
I share the same thoughts and concerns as Paul DuGay.
Why would First remove an extremely busy reliable journey which transports many people to work and children to school morning and afternoon? It makes no business sense.
My two children catch the 8.05am 144 for a five-mile journey from Rubery St Chads to Parkside every day, returning after school.
As of Monday this changes to 7.30am which is too early or 8.36am which arrives outside their school with minutes to spare. The only other bus to Bromsgrove is the Diamond 202 which arrives far too late.
To add insult to injury First this week has also increased a child’s week pass from £12.50 to £20.00 will no prior warning.
Due to us living three miles outside of the Worcestershire border there are no local council substitutes for children travelling to school on the bus.
Councils want more cars off the roads, both councils and local bus companies are just not making this easy.
I too will be contacting Nigel Eggleton, MD of First Bus.
I suggest he travels the 144 journey at peak times so he witnesses for himself the custom his company will lose.
Surely MP Sajid Javid should intervene
I HAVE contacted Sajid Javid MP and, as of yet, I am still awaiting a response from his team.
I have also contacted First Group to complain.
My son attends Catshill Middle School, he gets the 8.04am from St Chads Church, New Rd, Rubery.
The change will mean he along with other children will be forced to get the 7.36am meaning he will arrive at school well before 8am, leaving a possible 40 to 45 minutes stood outside waiting for school to open.
This raises safeguarding concerns for all, these changes are been implemented without foresight or care to those who are affected.
Concerns for the impact on the disabled
THIS has to be concerning to all those who rely on this service.
Many disabled users who depend on the 144 are unable to use train services because of accessibility will feel stranded.
Also, Birmingham is about to introduce a clean air zone.
Discouraging the use of cars in the city this will have an impact with less buses.
Not very helpful of First bus to now introduce these service cuts.
Saltway route needs marketing better to draw in the tourists
I AM A regular user of the 144 getting on in Rubery by Morrisons and travelling to the city centre and back Sunday through to – and including – Wednesday.
I am now unable to use the 144 due to these silly timetable changes.
One driver has been telling passengers during December that changes were afoot and that First Bus was going to change the route and the timings to avoid traffic.
They were planning to bypass Bromsgrove and use the M5 and the Aston Expressway to get into the city.
Another of their plans was to terminate at Longbridge and this was their preferred option. He said that the reason was they weren’t making money and laid the blame with National Express West Midlands which sets ticket prices apparently.
They were also concerned about the number of services eg 63 going into the city centre.
Looking at the new timetable the bus will no longer stop at Ashill Road and will stop at Longbridge Island which is nearly a two-mile walk from my house. I will have to revert to using the 63 which is often dirty and stinks of drugs instead of being able to use a clean, fast and non-smelly bus.
First Bus is incredibly stupid, it has liveried its buses promoting the Saltway and yet has not marketed it sufficiently.
It needs to market it to tourists too – people can take the Roman Saltway between Worcester and Birmingham and explain that the salt came from Droitwich. It should be like the number 11 bus and have its own guide book – it seems to work for National West Midlands!
I usually get on the 144 at 7.39am but there won’t be one until gone 8am,
I am on the shop floor at 8.55am and coming home, I leave work at 6.20pm and get the 6.35pm bus home and the next one will be at 7.20pm under this crackpot scheme. Its ridiculous.
I think they should keep to the normal timetable and market The Saltway as a tourist destination.
Name and address supplied