THE withdrawal of a bus service from Lickey will leave the area isolated and some of its inhabitants in fear of losing their jobs, concerned locals claim.

Diamond Buses has shut down its 202 route from Bromsgrove to Halesowen via Lickey and Rubery – and replaced it with a 44 service that does not travel through Lickey.

It will leave bus users needing to catch two different buses just to get to Bromsgrove – but Diamond have said the former route was ‘no longer viable’.

James Matthews, a 70-year-old who cares for his 98-year-old mother, is among the Lickey residents disgusted by the decision.

“It’s a totally different route and we’re being missed out,” he said. “We’re part of Bromsgrove after all.

“It’s happened without warning – something has gone on Diamond’s internet site but a lot of older people won’t have access to that information.

“I can walk a mile to the bus stop but for an alternative route but a lot of people can’t.

“It seems very unfair – there are buses subsidised by the county council in Barnt Green and Blackwell, which are affluent, wealthy areas and seem to be treated more favourably than Lickey and Rubery for example.”

Beryl Cartwright added: “It leaves the people of Rednal through to Lickey End without any form of public transport and people working in Bromsgrove unable to get to work.”

Rubery councillor Peter McDonald is petitioning Worcestershire County Council to demand Diamond restores the service.

He said: “Diamond has taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by not notifying the council of its changes and just going ahead with them without any concern to those who’ve been left stranded.

“I have been approached by a number of people who rely on the bus to get to work and without the service will lose their jobs.”

A Diamond statement said the service had been ‘operating at a financial loss’ and had experienced ‘a huge decline in passengers’, adding: “It is no longer a viable service for us.

“The 202 route around Lickey Hills had presented us with a number of operational difficulties and despite trialling a number of different vehicle options, all found the terrain difficult to cope with leading to a negative impact on service reliability.

“As the service was making a loss, investment in new vehicles was not possible and with the additional knowledge that this section of route suffered from low patronage, we looked at opportunities to improve the route.

“The new 44 route offers passengers a more reliable, direct service between Halesowen and Bromsgrove, it now serves the more populated areas around Catshill, which we envisage will improve patronage and make the service financially viable.

“It also creates a new link to local healthcare services at the Princess of Wales Hospital.

“Residents in the Lickey Road area can still access services to Bromsgrove by taking the X20 service from Lickey Road into Northfield and boarding the 44 service or alternatively boarding the 19 service from Lickey Road and 44 service from Rubery, New Road.

“We understand that this decision will affect a small number of people, but we have had to find a solution to operate the service that meets the majority of passengers and our business needs.”