Trial closure of “little-used” bus stops in bid to speed up journey times

Image: Elliot Brown / https://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown

A trial scheme taking little-used bus stops out of service to help speed up bus journey times for passengers on some of the busiest roads in South Birmingham is about to begin.

A total of 59 bus stops, across six routes, are to be suspended from use under the six month trial starting on October 1 untill March 2018.

It follows a review of stops across the network by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which included a consultation with members of the public.

The scheme also forms part of a review of bus services in south Birmingham and Solihull by operator National Express West Midlands (NXWM).

The stops are on the following services:

  • 8a/8c – Inner-circle
  • 50 – Alcester Road
  • 45/47 – Pershore Road
  • 63 – Bristol Road

TfWM policy is for people living within the West Midlands metropolitan area to be within 400m of a served bus stop, a rule which applies to 90 per cent of the network in the region.

However, over the years, some stops have been installed as close as 130m apart as a result of requests from the public or local councillors, land use change, or are a legacy of former employment sites.

Jon Hayes, head of network delivery for TfWM, said: “As time has gone on many of these stops are simply no longer needed yet are still occasionally used.

“Increasing congestion, and particularly at this time of year, is continually eating in to passenger journey times and we know that this puts people off using the bus adding further to congestion. We need to try and break this cycle, encourage more people to use the bus and take cars off the road. Removing bus stops we don’t need any more is one way of tackling this.”

Tom Stables, managing director of NXWM said: “Every time a bus stops to allow one passenger to get on or off can take up to 35 seconds.

“Add that up along a whole route and that can result in a significant impact on overall journey times. This trial will help us and TfWM balance our passengers’ need for bus stops that are easy to get to with bus journeys that get them where they want to get to on time.”

The redundant stops will not be physically removed during the trial but notices will be fixed to inform passengers they are no longer in use.

Mr Hayes said the alternative to the trial would have meant significant changes to bus services under the network review.

This could have included splitting existing services, removing some local services altogether and provision of new less frequent local routes.

It is hoped time savings achieved through the trial will instead help to maintain a consistent network.

Other measures being taken by TfWM to improve reliability include working with local authorities across the region to deliver highway schemes at congestion hot spots and bottle necks to improve the flow of traffic on the highway network.

Traffic light signal optimisation and introducing signal-based bus priority at key junctions is also being undertaken.

Traffic in the West Midlands reached record levels in 2016, with 8.5 billion vehicle miles driven on the region’s roads, beating the previous 2007 record.

The impact of congestion on bus services has been particularly severe. Four in every five public transport journeys continue to be made by bus yet average peak hour bus speeds in the region have reduced by 20% in the morning peak and 14% in the afternoon peak.

For more details on the scheme go to www.networkwm.com/fasterjourneys