A heavily subsidised central Birmingham bus service for shoppers, which carries an average of only five passengers a day, has reached the end of the road.

The Route 77 Centrebus - dubbed the 'ghost bus' - loses transport bosses £2,200 a week and will be discontinued after the current contract expires on April 23.

Councillors on the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority will now instruct Centro to investigate alternative services, including a bus linking New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill Stations with Digbeth Coach Station. The 77 bus was relaunched last October by Birmingham City Council, Centro and operator Dunn Line.

Despite its name, the bus does not cross the city centre itself but, instead, circles the periphery and it is thought this is one of the reasons behind its failure. The £57,000 contract, met equally by the two public bodies, was drawn up for 26 weeks until April 23.

A scrutiny review carried out by Coun Len Clark (Con Quinton) and Coun Renee Spector (Lab Erdington) for WMPTA, to be considered by the authority next Monday, recommended not renewing the Centrebus contract.

Instead they want other services explored and marketing for existing bus routes in the city centre better aimed at shoppers.

Their report states: "The panel quickly dismissed the option for 'no change' due to a combination of poor patronage and high subsidy and the failure of the service to penetrate Corporation Street, the core of the city centre."

The Centrebus runs every 12 minutes from 7am to 7 pm. The first Birmingham Centrebus started in 1971 to link peripheral car parks in the city centre.

A spokesman for Centro said: "If the PTA instructs Centro to investigate alternative options, we will look to see if other routes have more commercial appeal to bus operators.

"If funding cannot be found that way and there is still a social need for a central service, we will look to subsidise it."