Concern about the relocation of city centre bus-stops during the construction of the Metro Birmingham City Centre Extension was raised some time ago by users, who were then reassured that this is a temporary measure. 

Local bus user Robin Clarke has written, with others, to the Secretary of State for Transport challenging their funding of the extension of the Midland Metro across Birmingham City Centre, because of its adverse impact on bus services and documenting that there has never been any effective consultation of bus-users, but only ten years of misinformation.

Buses will terminate at five new interchanges on the edges of the city centre

Leaflets assert that city centre bus stops are going to be “temporarily” relocated but if this arrangement is permanent, all the most central, most convenient bus stops in the city centre will disappear, with no replacements anywhere close by.

There would be very serious implications for thousands of passengers in this ‘Connected City’.

Backing for Mr Clarke’s apprehensions is given by the Birmingham Mail’s report that instead of buses travelling along the most traffic-choked city centre routes, they will terminate at five new interchanges on the edges of the city centre. 

Lack of effective consultation

None of the consultation exhibition locations were anywhere near the affected Corporation, Stephenson, Navigation Streets bus stops. Mr Clarke attended one of these exhibitions which was housed in an inconspicuous bus in grey livery and found that there was no indication the bus had anything to do with loss of bus stops from Corporation Street.

He was given two leaflets titled “Birmingham City Centre. Bus Changes” “…making getting around the city easier.” “Work over the next few months will see some bus services moving on a temporary basis.” The leaflets contained no hint that there could be permanent changes, leading the reader to assume the changes are only temporary.

There have been no notices on the numerous affected bus stops and Mr Clarke has questioned bus users and drivers in recent months, encountering ‘universal unawareness and outrage’ on being informed. On 5th April he recorded a video of such responses at bus stops.

A more unpleasant and inefficient transport experience

He describes the main intended interchange, at Moor Street, as being in the middle of a traffic-infested dangerous busy main road and videoed himself walking quickly from the Corporation Street stops to the start of the Moor Street interchange. It takes at least six minutes to get from the real centre to that location which Centro’s Chief Executive Geoff Inskip asserts is already “right in the centre”.

Anyone wishing to get to or from the important area around Old Square, including the Civil Courts, Crown Court, Magistrates Court, Juvenile Court, Matthew Boulton College, and Aston University, would have to walk an extra half-mile from, and an extra half-mile back to the 37, 45, 61, 63, 82 and 87. Information about these changes can be seen here.

If the bus system is substantially degraded, Mr Clarke expects that many people would give up using buses and resort to using cars instead, increasing congestion; the bus services would then respond to falling passenger numbers by reducing frequency, further discouraging bus usage.

Another concern is the danger posed by hidden rails used for metro/trams for cyclists whose wheels get caught in them. As Mr Clarke continues, cyclists already have a hard enough time without having to focus on the road surface rather than other road-users.

All of these factors would make for a more unpleasant and inefficient transport experience in Birmingham. There would be much more pollution and noise and traffic hazard and city centre bus users would have to walk further and or wait longer for linking buses.

The city’s bus system will be adversely affected, mirroring – or exceeding – the decline seen in Redditch when its bus station was relocated to the far edge of the centre.