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Anger as Wolverhampton to Hednesford bus axed

By Richard Guttridge | Wolverhampton | Transport | Published:

A bus service which runs via the i54 business park in Wolverhampton has been axed after funding was pulled by businesses.

National Express said it's not viable to run the 154 on a commercial basis

The 154 has operated between Wolverhampton and Hednesford for the last three years after a consortium made up of firms on the i54 and Wolverhampton and Staffordshire councils agreed to provide the money to pay for it.

It has now emerged the funding has been pulled due to the number of people using the services, meaning the 154 will stop running from February.

But the move has angered regular users of the service, with a petition launched to try and save it signed by more than 100 people.

National Express said it had decided not to fund the services as it was ‘not viable’.

Commuters may be forced to get on Arriva buses instead but have complained journeys are more expensive.

The 54, which runs between Wolverhampton and Stafford, will continue but with changes to its timetable.

Transport chiefs said the bus had been popular in Wolverhampton but less so in Staffordshire.

Mark Shipp, aged 45, of Cannock, a regular bus user, said: “The passengers most affected will be ones in Hednesford and Featherstone, who will have no alternative but to catch a more expensive alternative, and probably even two buses at that.

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“The argument about it not being profitable seems implausible when you see how popular this service is. For some people this bus is the only one that goes anywhere near their place of work.”

A National Express spokeswoman said: “The 154 service has always been privately funded. That funding is coming to an end in February 2018.

“It is not viable for National Express West Midlands to run the 154 on a commercial basis.

“From 4 February 2018, customers travelling from Wolverhampton can use the number 4, which goes every 15 minutes, or the 6.

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Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “Unfortunately passenger numbers have been relatively low north of the i54 South Staffordshire site and available funding has now all been allocated.

"There has been a significant increase in car sharing to the site which may have contributed to the lower passenger numbers.

A decision has been made by the consortium that there are no further available resources to reinvest in the services, which the operator cannot run commercially.”

The petition can be viewed here.

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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