Sunday, 22 April 2012

New Stourbridge Interchange Opens!

The new £7m Stourbridge Interchange welcomed its first passengers this morning. (The picture shows the first departure - the 0737 service 9 to Birmingham). Although it was a low-key kick-off (the full "opening ceremony" will take place next month), bus users in the town will feel the huge impact and step change in quality - this really is something special! 18 months in build, it absolutely has been worth the wait. There simply is no comparison with what stood in its place previously, and makes a statement that quality public transport facilities are not only what is required, but is actually achievable, especially in these austere times. (The Interchange opened on time and in budget). I've often walked around transport termini in Europe and thought "why can't we have that back home?" - well, Stourbridge - along with it's larger sister in Wolverhampton, also recently opened, is right up there with the best. The basics are all here, and very well presented. Electronic information screens (as well as more traditional timetables), a small convenience store, toilets, CCTV, etc, and an artistic design that has been well thought out and designed. It links seamlessly with Stourbridge Town Railway Station, which has itself seen large improvements in recent times with the Stourbridge Shuttle Railcar service, linking in to brand new trains from London Midland on the Snow Hill lines. Arriva are also commencing some new journeys on some routes as part of contract wins - with some brand-spanking new vehicles, to compliment the new buses from National Express West Midlands too. These are indeed heady days for public transport in this little corner of the Midlands - and with passenger numbers up since the bus network review back in 2008, things are improving all the time. Public transport is often understated, but is vital to our country and the economy. To get more people using it brings benefits to all, but it must be a quality experience. We're by no means there yet, but achievements like the new Stourbridge Interchange are exactly what is needed to keep heading in the right direction. We must thank the bus and rail operators and their staff for their continued investment in new kit, and to the politicians and professionals of Centro and the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority for their ongoing drive to improve the passenger's lot. It is just so sad that Councillor Angus Adams - a gentleman I've interviewed several times on the radio, and talked a lot with about public transport, as Chair of Centro - who passed away last week, won't be able to finally see the new facility open and working. I know it meant a lot to him. I must also give a quick mention to Roger Chance's website - - which is packed full of all things bus-related in Stourbridge. He was there with a handful of us early morning stalwarts to see the first departure this morning! Further information can be found on

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