West Midlands bus route 404

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4
Overview
Operator National Express West Midlands
Vehicle Scania OmniLink
Route
Start Walsall
Via Caldmore, Stone Cross, West Bromwich & Oldbury
End Blackheath
404A
Travel West Midlands 1535 R135 XOB.jpg
A now-replaced Mercedes-Benz O405 vehicle operating route 404A
Overview
Operator National Express West Midlands
Vehicle Scania OmniLink
Route
Start Walsall
Via Caldmore, Stone Cross, West Bromwich & Oldbury & Blackheath
End Cradley Heath
404E
Diamond Bus 612 AE60 GOP.jpg
A MAN 14.240/MCV Evolution on the route
Overview
Operator Diamond Bus
Vehicle MCV Evolution bodied MAN A66/MAN 14.240
Route
Start Walsall
Via Caldmore & Stone Cross
End West Bromwich
404H
Overview
Operator National Express West Midlands
Diamond Bus
Vehicle Scania OmniLink
Route
Start Walsall
Via Caldmore, Stone Cross, West Bromwich, Oldbury, Blackheath & Cradley Heath
End Merry Hill Centre

National Express West Midlands Routes 404, 404A and 404H and Diamond Bus Route 404E are four bus routes operating in West Midlands, England.

History[edit]

The route south of Oldbury originally formed part of Midland Red's Service 217/218 route between Oldbury, Whiteheath, Blackheath, Halesowen and Hayley Green, with buses operating every ten minutes between Oldbury and Blackheath and every 20 minutes between Oldbury and Hayley Green. West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive extended these routes into West Bromwich in the late 1970s, renumbering them Service 415 (West Bromwich-Oldbury-Blackheath-Cradley Heath) and 417 (West Bromwich-Oldbury-Blackheath-Halesowen-Hayley Green).

A competing service on the 404 was launched by Pete's Travel between Walsall and West Bromwich in 1994. This was the company's first ever bus route.[1]

In 1999 the route was made part of the Centro Bus Showcase scheme.[2] A year later, Travel West Midlands introduced brand new low-floor Mercedes-Benz O405 single-deck buses onto the route.

A new route, numbered 404A, was introduced by TWM to link Blackheath and Cradley Heath in 2003. In 2006, Pete's Travel was taken over by the Go-Ahead Group and began to trade under the Diamond Bus brand. 2007 saw A2Z Travel start a short lived Sunday service on the 404, between Walsall and West Bromwich, but this was withdrawn by the end of the year.

Diamond Bus introduce two new services in 2008, numbered 404B and 404H. Both ran at irregular regular frequencies from West Bromwich to Blackheath and Cradley Heath/Merry Hill Centre respectively. At the same time, National Express West Midlands rerouted the 404/A so that journeys into Walsall no longer served Caldmore, following complaints from residents.[citation needed] The frequency was also increased on the 404 to every six minutes.

In September 2008 Diamond Bus (now owned by Rotala Group) started using new Volvo B7RLEs with Plaxton Centro bodywork on the 404, 404B & 404H, using a new trading name, Black Diamond.[3] However, the 404B was withdrawn in November 2008, with the 404H changed to operate at a steady 30 minute off-peak frequency between West Bromwich and Merry Hill Centre. In January 2009 the 404E was extended into Walsall.

In March 2009 National Express West Midlands introduced using the first of a batch of fifteen Scania OmniLinks onto the 404/A.[4] October 2009 saw Diamond Bus completely withdraw the 404H. From the same date it was announced that NXWM were to introduce a Sunday service on the route, which extended from West Bromwich to Walsall.[5] However, for unknown reasons this is postponed until late November 2009.[citation needed]

On 22 November 2009 National Express introduced a special £2 day return ticket on the 404 and 404A routes, a fare option only available on one other service in the West Midlands. A week later National Express West Midlands revived the 404H service on Sundays only, extending it to Walsall from West Bromwich in place of the 404A.

In December 2009 the departure point of the 404, 404A & 404E is moved just outside of Walsall Bus Station, to minimise congestion in the Bradford Place area.[6] March 2010 saw National Express convert Saturday daytime journeys on the 404A service into 404H's.

Present[edit]

The 404 currently links Walsall and Blackheath via West Bromwich. It is operated by National Express West Midlands. There is also an extended working of the route, the 404A, which extends from Blackheath to Cradley Heath and is also operated by National Express West Midlands. This runs to a half hourly frequency. The routes are operated using recently delivered Scania OmniLinks, at a combined frequency of every six minutes Monday - Saturday.[4]

During Saturday and Sunday daytime, the 404A is replaced by an extended version of itself, the 404H, which extends from Cradley Heath to the Merry Hill Centre. This runs to a half hourly frequency throughout the day.

There is a shortened working of the 404 operated by Diamond Bus, the 404E, which operates only between Walsall and West Bromwich, following the same route as the full length version. It runs to an 8 minute Monday - Saturday daytime frequency, using brand new MAN 14.240 MCV eVolutions.

The 404A and 404E do not operate on Sundays, but National Express West Midlands operate the 404 and 404H to a combined fifteen minute daytime frequency.

Certain journeys, when the bus is returning or starting the route to/from the depot, on services 404, 404A & 404H terminate at West Bromwich Bus Station, Stone Cross, Blackheath, Cradley Heath and Sandwell and Dudley railway station.

Current Routes[edit]

Service 404, NXWM
Service 404A, NXWM
  • Walsall
  • Caldmore
  • Stone Cross
  • West Bromwich
  • Oldbury
  • Blackheath
  • Cradley Heath
Service 404E, DIA
  • Walsall
  • Caldmore
  • Stone Cross
  • West Bromwich
Service 404H, NXWM

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown, Stewart J (November 1995). Buses in Britain 2: The Mid Nineties. Capital Transport. p. 109. ISBN 1-85414-181-3. 
  2. ^ 404 Bus Showcase laws.sandwell.gov.uk
  3. ^ £5.4m new buses hit region’s roads << Express & Star
  4. ^ a b National Express Group PLC - National Express unveil new fleet of buses for Black Country
  5. ^ New direct bus to shopping centre for Cradley Heath and Rowley Regis residents (From Halesowen News)
  6. ^ Bus drivers told to avoid busy terminus - Express and Star

External links[edit]