Thursday 26 July 2012

Birmingham's Big Bus-less Blunder? [3]

Spotted when enjoying a cream tea at Fakenham Farm,
which isn't anywhere near Fakenham!
Excellent for preparing to go back to skool.
Back to Transport in Briton's Second City ...

A "guest" recording from Pete Seeger:-
Where have all the buses gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the buses gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the buses gone?
Trams have moved them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
The start of road works for the Midland Metro tram extension from Snow Hill station through central Birmingham to New Street station has permanently removed buses from three busy locations. Fortunately for those seeking to travel northwards from the city to delectable suburbs like Sutton Coldfield, the Bull Street terminus ...
... simply moves round the corner into a non-tram bit of Corporation street. Stops are now here ...
... outside "The Square Peg". Apart from some re-organisation of the roads and junctions, Suttonians will suffer very little from the tram's onslaught. But things are very different for those used to catching their bus on Corporation Street.
Here ten busy stands have just been teleported to other so-called "interchanges" round the City. You would need to be something of an expert in Birmingham's bus route to fully grasp the implications of these moves; BUT (and it's a big "but"), people will be taken to places significantly removed from their usual destination.

It is hard not to conclude that this will have some major effect on trade at the shops and stores previous near to the Corporation Street stops. What is worse is that this change is permanent. The City authorities are adamant that buses will never return to these streets.

Here are some examples.
Buses from the north east move across to the other (far) side of New Street Station on St Martins Queensway, already busy with existing bus stops and traffic; ...
... better for "The Pavilions" and "The Bull Ring", but further from "traditional" stores. Meanwhile the busy service 37 ...
... finds its way to similar Carrs Lane.
O.K., it's only a short walk to the House of Fraser stores area (grey blob top left on the map above) but still not as good as a stop outside the door!

The big question is:- Will this exodus of bus stops further denude the traditional shopping streets in favour of the newer shiny "malls" and, having so denuded them, will the sleek new trams end up (still?) serving not very much.

Worrying times for Birmingham traders?

At least the local press seemed to think that the change had gone well:- 
It was feared the changes could spark chaos for commuters trying to navigate the new system. But passengers yesterday praised steps taken to avoid confusion by transport chiefs at Centro, National Express West Midlands and Birmingham City Council. Measures include a series of public exhibitions and presentations informing the public of the changes.

Dozens of marshals wearing high visibility jackets have also been lining Corporation Street since July 15, informing passengers of the changes and providing maps to show where the new stops are. The marshals will remain until July 29.

Ruma Talukdar, 18, of Small Heath, told the Birmingham Mail: “I would have been annoyed if they had just moved the stops and left everyone to work the changes out for themselves, but it’s great having the maps and the marshals to work out how to find your new bus stops.”

Rehana Khatun, 18, of Sheldon, added: “The marshals are really friendly and informative. I think the changes could have been a recipe for disaster but they have handled it really well, it seems to be going very smoothly.”

The "Mail" also recorded the last bus from Corporation Street, a vintage Birmingham Corporation vehicle.
And for the bus spotters amongst fbb's readers, a better pic of beautifully preserved MOF 225 dating from 1953/4.

 Next Blog : Friday 27th July 


  1. I suppose when the extension to the Midland Metro is up and running, we'll hear some young thing from their publicity office telling us what a good idea it is that public transport now serves Corporation St, and what a big improvement the whole thing is.

  2. P.S. Be thankful there wasn't an apostrophe between the "l" and the "s" of "pensils"

  3. Most Suttonians will suffer even less than you suggest, as they either drive or catch the frequent Cross-City trains. It's the users of other Bull St services that need to change their habits.

    A bit of history. Sutton Coldfield wasn't part of Birmingham until 1974, so it was served by Midland Red, with the Erdington tram, and its successor Corporation bus, both stopping at the city boundary (about 200 yards from where I was brought up). WMPTE had a major rationalisation scheme around 1979, and Sutton routes haven't changed much since then.

    It was very much a lottery as to how central your "city centre" stop was. MR services to Sutton ran from the Bull Ring end of New St, but the tram terminated at the Snow Hill end of Steelhouse Lane, on a bit of road that no longer exists, close to last week's Upper Bull St stop. When the trams were replaced by buses, the terminus was pushed along Steelhouse Lane to the General Hospital end, even further out of the centre than the new interchanges. Since 1979, the revised Sutton routes have had a number of terminal points, but mostly confined to the north end of the city centre.

    The "Mail" picture of 3225 has it showing the Corporation route number for Warstock - it's now an intermediate point on NXWM 2. I notice that your bigger picture has it showing the traditional unhelpful Birmingham destination of "Service Extra"!