Complaints about “dreadfully poor” bus services in Solihull
Bus passengers regularly complain of “dreadfully poor” services in Solihull, a councillor has said.
Cllr Ken Hawkins (Con, Blythe) highlighted the number of gripes he received about the network in his response to a public consultation on proposed changes to almost a dozen routes in the borough.
Bus users and other interested parties were asked for their views on proposals to shake-up the Nos S1, S2, S3/S3W, S11, S15, 82, 87, 88 and 89.
All of of those affected are “tendered services” – receiving subsidies from the public sector. The proposals to tweak timetables and adjust routes coincide with current contracts with private bus companies coming to an end.
In a submission to Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), Cllr Hawkins said that the quality of the service was at least as important as the actual routes that the buses followed.
“In the past year I have received many complaints about dreadfully poor services by current operators, with services not happening at the scheduled times and vehicles breaking down regularly,” he said.
“Quality and reliability of service must be high on the list of any operator of the services and must be so for the award of contracts.”
He said that companies contracted to run a subsidised service must have “the capacity” to deal with drivers falling ill and to respond promptly if a vehicle breaks down or needs repairs.
“We cannot continue with the present situation where a bus breaks down and the services are affected for several hours, perhaps the whole day.”
He also sought assurances that operators appointed would use a fleet of vehicles which met “the highest standards” when it came to reducing emissions.
At present, Solihull Council is looking at ways to improve air quality across the borough, with greener public transport seen as key to this strategy.
The consultation came to a close earlier this month and the changes set out could take effect in February 2019.
TfWM has argued that proposals such as a new service to the extended Jaguar Land Rover site in Fen End Road, and the splitting of some services in Solihull town centre, could improve the local network.
But some suggested changes, including combining the S1 (Solihull to Damsonwood) with the S11, and reducing it from a half hourly to an hourly service have caused concern locally.
Cllr Ade Adeyemo (Lib Dem, Lyndon) said it was important to consider “how the changes will affect regular bus users, especially elderly, disabled and visually impaired residents.”
A TfWM spokesman said: “We would like to thank Cllr Hawkins for his letter about proposed changes to bus services in Solihull.
“We received hundreds of comments during the consultation and these are being reviewed and considered in detail as the plans develop.
“Our aim is to ensure that public support is directed into services which provide the most benefit to residents and bus users.”
Previous alterations to the borough’s bus network have proven controversial.
Last year, sweeping changes to the services in North Solihull were introduced by National Express, amid fierce criticism from passengers.
Read more: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/complaints-dreadfully-poor-bus-services-15312613