The bus company blames WFH for abolishing centuries-old routes to Birmingham | Transport

A 108-year-old bus connection connecting Bromsgrove and Birmingham must be abolished because so many people now work from home, a transport manager has said.

The 144 service, which has been running between Worcester, Bromsgrove and Birmingham since 1914, will be cut in late April. The service will now run directly between Worcester and Bromsgrove, which is 13 miles outside Birmingham.

Nigel Eggleton, CEO of First Worcester, which runs the service, said that “for over 12 months now we have been transporting very few people” on the route, “which resulted in us having to make this difficult decision to remove the link to Birmingham ”.

He attributed the decline in passenger numbers to the Covid pandemic, saying factors such as “people working from home, flexible work patterns, confidence in being around public places and the use of other modes of travel to get around and avoid congested places” all have had an impact on service use.

He said the move was part of upcoming changes to “readjust our bus network according to how and when people travel across the work week and on weekends”.

Local residents have backtracked on the plans, saying many people are still dependent on the route to commute into town, and over 2,000 have signed a petition calling for the service to remain.

“Of course, it will take some time before people return to normal and enter their workplace instead of home. But people are now slowly returning to the workplace, and they depend on the bus to get there, ”said Bromsgrove councilor Peter McDonald.

“After 100 years with this bus route with profits, it seems quite selfish to them to say that it stops now. It will have a devastating impact on the people who depend on the bus to get to work. It creates a lot of anxiety for people. ”

Earlier this month, research from the Campaign for Better Transport found that more than one in four bus connections in the UK have been cut in the last decade as the pandemic accelerated the decline.

Services decreased by 18% during the pandemic compared to a decrease of 10% in the years up to 2019.

Eggleton said the operator “worked closely with Worcestershire County Council and Transport for the West Midlands to determine if any funding was available” to maintain the service, adding that “we will update everyone with progress in these talks”.

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