24th Jan, 2018

Replacement of beloved Heart of England Taxibus sparks fears, says Solihull councillor

Shaun Reynolds 26th Aug, 2016 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

A RURAL bus route which will launch next month and replace a popular Taxibus service has raised concern for a local ward councillor.

The Heart of England Taxibus has operated in Meriden since 2004, however the new No.89 bus will first come into operation on Monday (September 5).

The Taxibus service – which would pick and drop off travellers who pre-booked journey’s where they requested – proved successful in Meriden for more than a decade.

However, following a review, the service has been ditched after it was identified that many passengers found the need to pre-book every journey an inconvenience.

Despite the new service running regular buses between Coventry and Solihull – with the inclusion of designated ‘roaming zones’ in Meriden – Coun David Bell (Conservative/Meriden) said he is concerned a number of elderly residents will lose their independence.

Coun Bell told The Observer: “The taxibus provides links to events and services that I fear will no longer be possible with the new bus service.

“I have asked that there be an opportunity to discuss these concerns before the new service starts and it is then too late.”

Introduced by the Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), the No.89 service will run between Coventry, Balsall Common, Berkswell, Meriden, Hampton in Arden, Solihull Hospital and Solihull town centre as a regular bus service.

Passengers will not require to pre-book travel on the No.89 service.

There is also the option for passengers travelling from Meriden to request the bus service to pick them up from a location suitable to them – though this service does require to be pre-booked.

Jon Hayes, head of network delivery for TfWM, said following analysis of journeys made on the Taxibus service, the TFWM concluded one new vehicle could serve nearly all existing users and also attract new passengers.

He added: “Bus services are an important lifeline for the rural community and we are delighted that the No.89 will fulfil a proven need in the Meriden Gap.

“We would encourage people to use this new service and look forward to seeing passenger numbers grow.”

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