CHANGES to the bus network in Solihull including new routes to key employment sites will come into effect this weekend despite some opposition from residents.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), says it will provide improved services which will make it easier for residents to take jobs.
The services, which come into force on Sunday (February 24), will go to Blythe Valley Business Park and the Jaguar Land Rover site in Fen End.
Both sites, which employ hundreds of people, have not had regular and convenient public transport on a consistent basis during recent years, Solihull Council chiefs say.
The new network follows a public consultation held last October which saw more than 1,300 individual responses, helping to shape routes and frequencies.
One change following the consultation has seen a reduction from 27 buses a day to just 11 along Alderminster Road due to resident opposition.
This is despite accusations voiced by councillors and residents at a Solihull Council meeting that TfWM have ‘ridden roughshod over public opinion’ – with an overwhelming majority of attendees rejecting the plans altogether in a series of votes.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: “The new network is a good example of how we can step in and subsidise services that can make a real difference to people’s lives.
“So we hope these new services will better connect people not just to jobs but also health care, education and leisure pursuits. “That in turn will help support the local economy and wider efforts to improve air quality.”
The new TfWM subsidised routes will see Elmdon-based LandFlight run two services to Blythe Valley while Henley-in-Arden based Johnsons will operate the 87 and 88 to Fen End.
Winning the contract to run the new services on behalf of TfWM has seen Land Flight take on 24 new drivers locally.
Leader of Solihull Council Councillor Bob Sleigh said: “Unfortunately places like Blythe Valley and JLR at Fen End, which are outside the urban area, have not always enjoyed the best public transport.
“That has made it difficult for people, and especially young people, to take advantage of the job opportunities available at such locations so we believe these new services can improve people’s job prospects while also making it easier for people already working at those locations to switch from car to bus.”
For more visit networkwm.com/solihullchanges