One afternoon last week, I had cause to catch TWM‘s 997 bus from central Birmingham to Great Barr, while my car was in the garage, for its annual MOT test (it passed, I’m pleased to say).
I have mixed views on public transport: on the one hand it’s a good thing (TM), in that it’s available to all, environmentally friendly, and so on, but on the other hand, it usually involves the kind of user-experience which makes it undesirable for anyone who doesn’t have to use it through lack of choice.
I had already used the 997 into Birmingham that morning. It’s a limited stop service, and I must say I had been impressed that the level of comfort was higher than I was expecting.
I wasn’t sure when where to catch the bus for my return journey, so looked up the route on the Transport Direct website.
The way that site works makes it impossible to link to the relevant timetable, but as this screenshot shows, they clearly say that the service departs from Carrs Lane in Birmingham City Centre.
I arrived in good time for the advertised departure, but none of the three bus stops in Carrs Lane listed the 997 as stopping there.
Purely by chance, I happened to see the 997 turning into Carrs Lane, from High Street, only to stop at a pedestrian crossing. I indicated to the driver that I wished to board, and he kindly opened the doors and allowed me to do so.
I subsequently found that the 997 does not stop in Carrs Lane, but around the corner — and earlier on its route — at stop DG, on High Street (map here).
The above picture shows the corner of High Street and Carrs Lane. The bus stop on the extreme left is stop DG, on High Street. On the extreme right, it is just possible to see stop DH, the nearest on Carrs Lane. Note also the pedestrian crossing at the start of Carrs Lane.
The bus I boarded had already departed from its stop. Had it not been for the pedestrian crossing and the kindness of the driver, I would have missed the bus, and thus missed the chance to pick up my car before the garage closed.
TWM and Transport Direct need to work together to eliminate erroneous information from the latter’s service, not least if they expect to entice car drivers onto public transport.