Dear Editor, In his letter (Birmingham Post, June 14) Robin Clarke claims there has been no consultation with bus users over the forthcoming changes to services in Corporation Street.
Since the 1970s, Birmingham City Council has undertaken a policy of pedestrianisation in the city centre – the success of which can be seen by the greatly improved shopping environment along New Street and High Street. In fact, physical work started on the bus mall to provide new bus stop locations away from Corporation Street over 10 years ago.
The pedestrianisation of Corporation Street and the subsequent re-routing of bus services was covered by the Metro extension public inquiry at which the views of the public both for and against were carefully weighed up by an independent inspector who subsequently gave approval.
This enabled a Transport and Works Act to come into force in 2005. It is important to stress that the pedestrianisation of Corporation Street would have happened whether the Metro extension was built or not.
In addition to the public inquiry there has been significant activity over the last two years with the development of the Birmingham City Centre Interchange scheme in partnership with the Business Improvement Districts, which involves the creation of the five new bus interchanges now being built around the city centre.
This has included both extensive informal information provision and formal consultation and incorporates comments received via exhibitions, email, the Connected City website and responses to newsletters and other sources. There have been numerous public exhibitions along with stakeholder briefings, mail and email distribution, web information, individual briefings for businesses, poster campaigns, meetings with specific interest groups, letters to businesses and residents and on-bus advertising.
Over the coming weeks we will be running a comprehensive passenger information campaign giving full details of the bus stop relocations, none of which will be more than a five minute walk from their current location.
There will be route specific leaflets, on-bus posters, at stop signage, radio advertising, newspaper and billboard advertising. This activity will be undertaken in conjunction with Birmingham City Council, National Express and other bus operators.
This will be further supplemented through the use of the Information Centre on New Street which has now been fitted out with Centro information and is being staffed by members of the project team to provide a contact point for any queries.
The reorganisation of bus services from July 22 is a major change and therefore Centro staff, including bus station supervisors and additional event staff, will be on hand in the streets to assist passengers during the changeover. Throughout the construction of the city centre works Centro will also be working to minimise the impact on businesses and the public.
We appreciate that these changes will affect the way people access the city centre, but they will bring significant benefits to both passengers and traders with a cleaner, quieter and far less congested Corporation Street.
At the same time the Metro extension will deliver more than 3.5 million people a year directly into the heart of the city’s shopping district and create 1,500 sustainable new jobs. It will also boost the regional economy by £50 million a year so will pay for itself in less than three years.
The economic advantages of rapid transit networks are well documented yet Birmingham remains the only city of its size in Europe without one. This extension will start to put that right and serve as a platform for further routes to key locations like the airport and the forthcoming high speed rail station.