Solihull Council have accepted without protest the decision by National Express to re-route the 37 bus, avoiding 'Olton Interchange'. Your Lib Dem Councillors fought, unsuccessfully, for the service to be returned to the train station but the Tory cabinet member accepted the decision.
The National Express bus trial, removing the number 37 service from Olton Station, ended on November 29th. Here's the bad news from National Express and Solihull Council. The route will not be stopping at Olton Station in future.
Below is what the Council Officers told us:
Journey Times Monitoring Average journey times of the service through the segment of Warwick Road 50 metres either side of the of Richmond Road/St. Margaret’s Road & Ulverley Green Road/St. Bernards Road junction have been monitored over the last 6 months and compared with the same period in 2015.
- Towards Solihull there were AM peak average journey time savings of 1min 40 secs and PM peak average journey time savings of 2 min 11 secs
- Towards Birmingham the average journey time savings were higher with AM peak average saving of 2min 45 secs average saving and PM peak saving of 3mins 12 secs.
- The greatest saving was seen in September PM peak towards Birmingham which has seen an average 6min7 sec journey time in 2015 reduced to 2mins 31 secs in 2016.
Bus Punctuality/Reliability Monitoring
Bus punctuality for the service has also been monitored
- The % of buses on time at Ulverley Green Rd timing point has increased Inbound to B’ham 5.8% from 85% to nearly 91%.
- In the opposite direction towards Solihull it has increased by 17% from 68% to 85%. The West Midlands average for intermediate points is currently 82% so Olton is now above the average.
- The table below shows other timing points along the 37 route - punctuality decreases as the bus travels along the route. The changes have contributed the wider route’s performance.
- In 2015 buses often took over 6 minutes to travel between the 2 points whereas now none take more than 3 mins
|Solihull Town Centre||95.6%||86.1%||9.5%|
|Ulverley Green Rd Olton||90.8%||85.0%||5.8%|
|Acocks Green Village||92.9%||80.5%||12.4%|
|High Street B’ham BS2||90.3%||84.7%||5.7%|
|Acocks Green Village||89.3%||74.9%||14.4%|
|Ulverley Green Rd Olton||85.2%||67.8%||17.4%|
- A significant amount of feedback was received by the Council, Transport for West Midlands and National Express West Midlands from local residents, raising concern about the potential permanent loss of 37 bus service at Olton Station.
- Specifically, the feedback has centred on the increased walking distance, gradient and the need to cross Warwick Road to access service by those with mobility impairment.
- Concerns was also raised about the loss of integrated bus/rail access
- A number of residents (within the St. Bernard’s Road / Kineton Green area) who have welcomed the additional bus stops on Warwick Road.
National Express has undertaken a passenger survey of the changes to the bus service
- Of those impacted by the change 80% commented that the journey time was now faster than May.
- Passengers were also asked to rate the journey time before and after the change which resulted in the score for this improving by 13%.
- The rating for overall journey experience before and after the change showed an improvement of 12%.
Warwick Road Temporary Bus Stops
The Council introduced temporary bus stops at Warwick Road, either side of the Richmond Road/St. Margaret’s Road & Ulverley Green Road/St.Bernards Road junctions.
The operation of the bus stops has been closely monitored by CCTV and this has shown the bus stops to generally operate well without creating any situations or scenarios prejudicial to highway safety.
During the trial, an Increase in the number of passengers using the stops has been observed.
Solihull Council's Conclusion
On the basis of the significant improvements to bus journey times and bus punctuality as well as the successful operation of the temporary bus stops on Warwick Road, National Express West Midlands has resolved to make the trial permanent and the service will no longer serve Olton Railway Station.
Following discussions between the Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways (Conservative Councillor Ted Richards) and Council officers, they decided to raise no objections to this decision.
This is on the basis of demonstrable improvements to both journey time and punctuality, not only within the immediate area but along the wider 37 route. The impact the changes to some parts of the community, particularly for those impaired mobility, are not underestimated and have been considered.
However, weight was attached to the existing bus services that will continue to serve Olton Station (no’s 30 and 96) that provide a cumulative frequency of three buses per hour (daytime Mon - Sat) to a range of local destinations including Solihull Town Centre, Acock’s Green, Hall Green, Lyndon local centre and ‘Sharman’s Cross’ local centre. These services, whilst not as direct as the 37, will continue to provide an important function in ensuring those who cannot access Warwick Road, retain connections to essential local services and facilities.
It is now proposed to formalise the arrangement and install permanent bus stops poles and make the necessary changes to the traffic regulations order. Following requests by local residents, the Council will also be undertaking a study to assess the feasibility of installing a layby on Warwick Road for south (Solihull) bound buses.
The Council have also received some suggestions for improvements following the most recent protest group meeting. They are considering these suggestions and will respond in due course.