Diamond Busses confirm 56 service to be withdrawn

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This common sight looks set to disappear totally soon. Image from Wanderer 30 and posted on Flickr.

Following from the tipoff from Gina Young about the possible withdrawal by Diamond busses of their 56 service between Brownhills West and Birmingham, the company have confirmed the termination with the following statement issued late yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 15th September 2015):

From Saturday 24th October our 56 service from Brownhills to Birmingham will cease to operate.

Service 56 between Brownhills and Birmingham is operated on a commercial basis with no external funding. This means that the costs of providing the service have to be met by income from passengers.

Over the last couple of years there has been a steady decline in the number of passengers travelling on the service, meaning there has been less income. At the same time, costs have continued to increase above the rate of inflation.

Regrettably, we can no longer sustain operation of this service and have taken the difficult decision to cancel the service.

Other operators provide a number of services in the area and the majority of the 56 route already has the provision of an alternative bus service. Additionally, we understand that National Express West Midlands will be revising one of their services to travel along Erdington Road to replace service 56. Please contact NXWM or www.networkwestmidlands.com for details of this and other services in the area.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our passengers on the 56 service for your custom and support.

So that’s a great big ‘Up yours!’ to passengers of the service – the alternative 936 doesn’t cover Brownhills West or Shire Oak, and has a number of differences in the route which will make the alternative journey involve more than one service for many users.

I do like the tip to contact Network West Midlands, who that morning had no idea the 56 was to be withdrawn! I get the feeling NetworkWM couldn’t find their collective arses with both hands, a diagram and an expensive arse-finding consultant…

Fortunately, Brownhills Councillor Steve Wade has once again stepped in: he’s sent the following message to the managers at Diamond Buses:

I write with reference to the cancellation of the 56 bus route from Brownhills to Birmingham announced by Diamond Buses today.

There are many people and passengers in Brownhills who are, and will be, dismayed by this decision. This route serves many customers, young and old who rely on this service to get to school, work, shop and to visit friends and family. If this service is taken away, there is very little left with regards to a bus service from our Brownhills locality into the Birmingham area and all the other destinations the route serves.

I would be grateful if we could arrange a meeting with the senior management team at Diamond so that we may put our case for keeping this service in Brownhills and indeed, look to yourselves to re-consider the decision given the impact it will have on our community.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards, Brownhills Councillor,
Steve Wade

Thanks to Steve for once again being responsive, on the ball and quick to stick up for Brownhills.

If you’re affected and unhappy that the service is being withdrawn, you can email Steve at the following address: Cllr dot Stephen dot Wade at walsall dot gov dot uk, or via his Facebook page here. You can contact Diamond Busses to complain directly using this web form, or call them on 0121 322 2222.

The 56 has it’s roots in Brownhills history: Dunn and Hale, Harper Brothers, Midland Red and Arriva all ran it in one form or another, and Travel West Midlands operated the competing 995 service for several years. It would be a shame to let this service go without a fight. As pointed out above, the 936 does offer an alternative to Birmingham, but doesn’t serve the same route.

Comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

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14 Responses to Diamond Busses confirm 56 service to be withdrawn

  1. Edwina. says:

    After having a set to with one of their very rude drivers and making a complaint to their Management re his behaviour, I am not surprised by their “up yours” attitude. “That” is precisely the attitude they took with me. I phoned many times asking to speak with someone, but gave up in the end – and that very foul mouthed man, who used all kinds of expletives in front of his passengers and children at the bus stop, still drives for them. They are a disgrace.

  2. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    Thanks for this information. Perhaps Councillor Steve Wade could contact former Councillor Barbara Cassidy, who chaired the two public meetings in Brownhills a few years when similar circumstances arose. It may also be useful to contact Councillor Worrall who was present, as a member of the public, and is now one of the two Walsall Councillors on the WMPTE( whatever they are called now) board who oversee CENTRO,The other Walsall member is Councillor Gary Clarke( who was on the WMPTE committee then, in fact) None of the present Brownhills councillors were in office at that time, and I expect the CENTRO officers present at the two public meetings may have since left, or retired..
    I note that Diamond’s route 56 has received no funding; this was stated would be the case at the two public meetings some years ago.Does National Express receive public funding for its new 936 route?
    kind regards
    David

    • Hi David

      With respect, I don’t think Steve is naive and will be consulting with everyone with knowledge. He has, I believe, already spoken with Richard Worrall and I know he keeps in touch with Barbara.

      Cheers
      Bob

  3. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    glad to hear the wheels are on motion..Lets hope the issue can be successfully resolved in time.
    cheers
    David

  4. philcburton says:

    Harper’s started that service from Cannock to Aldridge via Leacroft, Heath Hayes & Brownhills also Cannock to Kingstanding via Cross Keys, Heath Hayes, Brownhills, Aldridge & Streetly. They fought tooth & nail, Midland Red, Walsall Corporation & Birmingham Corporation for the right to extend the service to Birmingham City from Kingstanding. Eventually in the mid 60’s the Traffic Commissioners granted in favour of Harpers to run into the city with restrictions and hefty subsidies to Birmingham Corporation. A half hourly service was run 10 to the hour via Leacroft and 20 past the hour via Cross Keys from Cannock plus Limited Stop Service early am for the workers, the services were always heavily patronised and successful, Brownhills being one of the most popular destinations for the market. Since 1974 when Harpers were bought out by Midland Red, I have seen all the hard work by Harpers & their staff systematically destroyed by various operators dabbling into a perfectly good bus service, cutting this, chopping that, re routing, other greedy companies muscling in to get their cut of operations. What a complete shambles they have all made of it. Why were they allowed to try and mend something that wasn’t broken.

  5. Malcolm Case says:

    Bob, The 936 does cover Shire Oak, as it travels up the Chester Road to the Shire Oak junction, and then right into Lichfield Road. In other words, the same as the 56 route. Although I believe this is a fairly recent route change.

    • Sorry Malcolm, you’re quite correct.

      As I said, I’m not generally a bus user and last time I used that one it went – much to my consternation – down Lindon Road (Like many, I love the view down to Lichfield from Shire Oak from a double decker. Sad, yes I know…)

      Cheers and apologies
      Bob

  6. Tony Martin says:

    The withdrawal of the 56 was mentioned at least a week ago here http://wmbusphotos.com/forum/index.php?topic=11.2535 see further discussions

  7. Casiann says:

    This is just a k joke it’s the only bus I can catch to work early in the night this would then mean I would possibly need to get a new job.

  8. Sheila k says:

    This is going to affect so many people. My own daughter is already saying she will have to find another job as 936 just takes too long.
    Please write to councillors, bus company, anyone else you can. Let them know if you’re affected and that you care about it.

  9. Paul Greaves says:

    Really disappointed by this. I have recently returned to using public transport after a gap of nigh on 20 years.As seemed to have been mentioned by others the 56 is a far better service than the other routes through to Birmingham. I have to admit to not knowing the reasons why some services are funded whilst others are not, nor the mechanism that allocates such funding’, but it seems strange that a route that appears to be very popular receives nothing but a route that comes in for criticism is the beneficiary of funding

  10. Sheila k says:

    Hi all 56 lovers
    My daughter was told last night that National Express are taking over the route when Diamond finishes. This was from a national express bod talking to people in the queue in Birmingham.
    Keep your fingers crossed!

  11. Pingback: 56 bus service: Travel West Midlands to fill the gap | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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