Local bus service under threat


The 56 service is popular and busy. Image from great local bus enthusiast Walsall1955 and posted on Flickr.

It seems there might be bad news for uses of the Diamond Buses 56 route from Brownhills to Birmingham – yesterday I had the following email from passenger Gina Young:

Dear Bob,

I thought I would just let you know some news I found out this afternoon. The 56 Diamond bus service to Birmingham city centre is to be withdrawn as of the 24th of October. This is a popular bus with many people in Brownhills and I and many other’s use this service every day to get to work and back.

I contacted the depot and was told the reason behind it is that it is no longer financially viable and we will have to use the 936 instead. When this service was introduced last year many of us remained loyal to Diamond and continued to use this service as we still do , so today’s news was a bit of a blow to us.

As this may affect some of your readers I thought best to let you know as soon as possible so people can make alternative travel arrangements if they need to.

Best wishes
Gina Young

I’m not a frequent user myself, but I know the 56 is a popular, busy service relied upon by commuters and shoppers alike, and it’s a useful service not just to Birmingham, but for Leighswood, Aldridge, Streetly. Kin standing and the suburbs.

I asked Network WM on Facebook to confirm or deny, and they said they had no information – which is not unexpected as their public information is usually woeful. I have sent an enquiry to Diamond Buses via several channels and await their comment.

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Network West Midlands seem to exist purely do deny responsibility or knowledge of any enquiry.

The 56 service is well-used is the remnant of the old Harpers service from Cannock to Birmingham, truncated by Arriva in the 1990s to serve no further north than Brownhills West. The situation is reminiscent of 2005, when Diamond attempted to cut the service at Aldridge and force users to change busses.

The loss of the 56 would be a bodyblow to Brownhills commuters and I wholly oppose it – we’ve fought for this service before and I think we’ll be called on to do so again.

You can make enquiries with Diamond Busses from their web-form here, or ask them on twatter here or Facebook here. I have to say, they don’t seem terribly responsive to social media messages.

As soon as I have further information, I’ll post it here – thanks to Gina for raising the issue.

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5 Responses to Local bus service under threat

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    not aware of this,. Thanks for the info. Network West Midlands…no, doesnt ring a bell, Im afraid.

  2. I’m disappointed but not surprised. Before I tried bus commuting again I’d noticed that the fleet used for the 56 was rarely now the ‘Royale’ buses but a combination of whatever seemed available at the time. I’ve seen a couple broken down at Kingstanding circle in the last month, clearly that long haul from Streetly takes its toll.
    A couple of recent experiences may highlight the issue. Friday coming back from town, saw a 56 heading down a road parallel to Carrs lane that it shouldn’t have been, and I couldn’t get on it. 20 mins later the bus turned up in the right place but he was ‘running so late’ he didn’t stop anywhere else, and dumped me and the two other passengers at Aldridge, telling me to get onto another 56 that was at the stop (and full to bursting too, so then had to stand)
    On Monday I caught a rare ‘Royale’ bus into Birmingham. There was some sort of road rage incident near Lazy Hill and a stand off with another car… this caused the engine to overheat and when we got to Aldridge we were told to ‘get off the bus now’, smoke billowing out the back. My error in catching the first alternative bus to Birmingham (the 997), and another two hour commute for me.
    The 936, now it’s gone Platinum is a nice service, but it is also long long long, weaving round a couple of estates on its way to Birmingham and back, a minimum of the timetabled 60 minutes and closer to 70-80 when there’s any traffic on the road.
    Diamond don’t seem to engage in social media now, using it as a bulletin board as I’ve had no replies. No phone number to ring either.
    Choice is always good, and the removal of the 56, for all of the problems above will be a loss of an important amenity.

  3. stymaster says:

    I have to say, when I travel to Birmingham, I prefer the 56 over the NXWM buses. As Andy says, the route is less meandering, for a start, and I find the drivers a bit more friendly. Had good experience with Diamond’s customer service in the past, though they had a odd relationship with Centro/NWM at one point.

  4. Pingback: Diamond Busses confirm 56 service to be withdrawn | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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