0907 Birmingham International – Meriden

21 Feb

Na (ja?)

Birmingham International Interchange is a striking, modern building: warm, comfortable and spacious whilst waiting for your onwards bus. Serving the major railway station, the National Exhibition Centre and the airport, surely this must count as one of the major public transport interchanges in the West Midlands. A bit of a flagship. But wait – what is this? The timetable for Travel West Midland service 900 changed on 11th November 2007, so that daytime services between Birmingham and Coventry were reduced from every 20 minutes to every 30 minutes in order to provide for a more frequent service between Birmingham and the Airport. However, the at-stop printed timetable provided by Centro at the interchange still shows the old twenty minute frequency over three months after the service change took place.

Excuse my shouting: things like this annoy me greatly. What’s the point of investing in new real-time information systems, new vehicles and new interchanges when the basics go to pot? I suspect that both Centro and TWM are too busy in the middle of rebranding exercises (as Network West Midlands and National Express West Midlands respectively – confused yet?) to remember to do their jobs properly. Or perhaps things have just fallen between the cracks. Let me explain further: I complained about this in an email to TWM over a month ago and have not had a response yet. But rather stupidly, the first thing I complained about in this email was the poor timekeeping since the new timetable was introduced – the first rule of fault reporting is not to combine complaints for fear of confusion.

Bye bye bus

Anyway, unbeknownst to me until today, the timetable has been revised as of 10th February to try and improve time-keeping by leaving Birmingham three minutes later. So perhaps the second part of my email was overlooked whilst the first part of my email was deemed as being dealt with back in December, so no need to reply. But if that was the case, then why does the online timetable show that there has been no change at all to my poorly perorming 0907 departure? Total confusion all round – but poor customer service in any case. Ironically, performance of the 0907 seems to have picked up, even though the latest revisions haven’t actually changed anything.

Meh. It’s such a shame that I have to rant like this and detract from the actual service itself, which is normally very good. Flat fares are £1.50 for any distance, which means you can go from Birmingham to Coventry for £1.50 if you wanted to – a bargain compared to my local bus where it’s cheaper to get the train unless you’re on a weekly ticket. And whilst the frequency reduction isn’t to everyone’s liking (with a rallying poster calling on Meriden travellers to unite and complain posted on bus shelters in the village), a steady half-hourly frequency all day, in the evenings and on Sundays too is not to be sniffed at for an inconsequential rural place like Meriden.

Quiet

The bus is fleet of foot along the A45 dual-carriageway, though can’t make use of the grade-seperated junctions at both the M42 and Stonebridge interchanges, as it must travel past the bus stops on the sliproad. Even with these diversions, we are quick to arrive at the point where the old route of the A45 diverges to head into Meriden village itself. The new timetable means that this bus is unambiguously early for twirlies, so I stay on the bus one stop past the village green without encountering serious delay. The onboard destination display shows Leys Lane as the next stop, and I press the bell. Disembarkation: a short walk up the driveway to the Hall and I’m ready to start work for the day – finally.

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