Withdrawal of 56 bus service: Latest news, and please sign the petition!

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

The controversy over the withdrawal of the Diamond Buses 56 service from Brownhills to Walsall refuses to die down, and there’s now an online petition you can sign in support of the service and Councillor Steve Wade’s efforts to save it.

You can sign the petition online by clicking on this link.

There is also a paper petition in several High Street businesses in Brownhills, and I believe Steve and the team will be out this weekend talking to the public and collecting signatures – more details on that when I have them.

I think it’s fair to say that so far Diamond Buses have been fairly intractable on the matter, despite being implored to reconsider in numerous emails and a face to face meeting.

There is some hope however, as the councillor has a meeting this week with Travel West Midlands to discuss their possible moves to ameliorate the loss of service.

One of the best ways of getting to speed with this is to follow Steve on Facebook, where he posts regular updates – not just on this issue, but on all his ongoing work.

Steve posted the following on Sunday, 27th September 2015:

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Re 56 Cancellation. I have received an e-mail from National Express regarding a replacement service for the 56 (enclosed). I have asked for a meeting on Thursday afternoon. If this is agreed, I will ask their representative if a number of Brownhills’ residents can attend as on the last one with Diamond. It sounds very promising and we just need to ensure that we put forward our case as to how important this route is for our school children, our workers/commuters and our elderly. Come on!!!

Dear Stephen,

I’m writing with regard to the registered withdrawal of the Diamond 56 between Brownhills and Birmingham and wondered if you’d be free for a short time this week coming for us to discuss the options that we (National Express) are considering to provide a replacement. We’re aware of the significance and importance of the links that the 56 provides to so many people: I’ve read your comments and those of others made in the last week or so and completely agree with the sentiments expressed. I regularly use buses on this corridor and have done for many years, and so am completely au fait with the extent of demand and the need for specific links provided by the 56 to be replaced. I’m pleased to be able to advise that we’re working on replacement service proposals at the moment – and although the detail still needs to be finalised I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to reach an acceptable outcome that meets the needs of those currently using the 56. Time is obviously short given the imminent pending withdrawal and I’m hoping to be able to draw conclusions by the end of this week. If you’d be able and willing to meet, I’d be very pleased to do so at your convenience: please just let me know your availability.

He followed this yesterday (29th September 2015) with the following:

Just to confirm that we have talks arranged with National Express on Thursday regarding their company taking over the 56 route from Diamond. Once again, we will put our case for our Brownhills school children, our workers and our elderly. Let’s hope we can get National Express to commit to a full service for all our residents. I will keep everyone posted on the outcome of the talks. Cheers.

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.

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

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7 Responses to Withdrawal of 56 bus service: Latest news, and please sign the petition!

  1. Alan Dawson says:

    I have been told that the 935a & 936 Buses use the same route as the 56 ,so I think this has been a reason for its demise .If they are not able to compete with all that the new Platinum bus service that National Express are offering then they have to Knock it on the head ,they cant run at a loss.

    • peter says:

      Hi Alan, do we know that they are running at a loss or just not making enough profit? There’s a big difference between the two.
      I, like a lot of other people, live on the route in the Salters Road area, and I do have to say that there are an awful lot of buses running up and down most of the day and night, when I look at the buses passing the occupancy rate of any bus seems to be very low, I suspect that there is an over capacity situation that Diamond perhaps have identified?
      I would think, in the background somewhere, that Diamond and National Express work out between them who will do what and which routes they will run………..
      The 56 service will be missed by many though that’s for sure…….
      All the best. Peter

      • Hi chaps.

        No, it’s not the same route. I suggest you read some of the comments by people who use the service.

        If you check Steve Wade’s postings, they state they are making a ‘small loss’ – Diamond had a similar tantrum around 2005. One might suspect they were angling for subsidy, or a concession from TWM.

        Operators like Diamond make big £ from subsidised, ‘socially necessary’ services and the deal post regulation was that operators would be expected to sustain some mildly lossy routes in return for subsidised, low hanging fruit. Some things go by the wayside.

        I would tend to refrain on speculation on occupancy and frequency unless you have figures or use the service regularly.

        Cheers
        Bob

        • peter says:

          Hya Bob, I am not a regular user or have the necessary facts and figures, but based on regular observances, in my opinion, there is an over capacity along the area that I am familiar with i.e. Salters Road, checking the Diamond Buses website reveals that they receive no external funding and that user numbers have declined, surely a simple case of supply and demand dictates change and alteration at times. If Diamond buses analysis showed that they couldn’t cope with the demand they would increase the capacity, as it is they are decreasing the capacity.
          All the best Bob and keep up the good work…….

          Peter

          • No, I know. What you are saying about usage is conjecture on your part, and therefore isn’t helpful. It’s a very long route and the part you observe is a tiny part of it.

            They don’t currently receive external funding, but they have in the past.

            Cheers for the explanation of capacity, I really had no idea.

            Bob

    • Aiden Sutton says:

      I would like to point out firstly that the 935A National express service is a evening bus service which takes over from Diamonds 56 day service,secondly the 936 does not follow the exact same route as the 56.Diamond are not a loss making bus operator ,yes they may be making a small loss on the 56 but they make good profit on other routes

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