Worcestershire bus route 144
|Operator||First Midland Red|
|Via||Selly Oak, Northfield (Birmingham), Rubery, Catshill, Bromsgrove, Droitwich|
Worcestershire bus route 144 is a bus service connecting the cities of Birmingham and Worcester, operated by First Midland Red. The route was one of the longest-running double-deck bus operated routes, though it is now more common for single decked buses to be used. The original routing of the 144 was from Birmingham to Malvern via Bromsgrove and Worcester, though the Worcester to Malvern section now forms part of the 44 route.
Services on the 144 corridor running between Droitwich and Great Malvern go back to 1913, eventually being extended to Birmingham in 1914. At that time the route was numbered 25, and later 125. The 144 number came into use on 11 February 1928. The Malvern - Worcester section was withdrawn on Monday to Saturdays in 1976, however the route continued to Malvern on Sundays until that section was finally withdrawn on 3 September 2000.
The Little Red Bus Company won a Hereford and Worcester County Council contract to operate a 2 hourly service on the route, inter-timed with Midland Red West's 2 hourly service; however the company ceased trading in January 1997.
On 24 March 2004, the service was re-routed in the Bromsgrove area to serve Catshill instead of the Birmingham Road, replacing the local bus number 90 on that section of the route. This change was fought by local residents who wanted to keep the route as it was. A year later in June 2005, Diamond Bus introduced a 64 service along the Birmingham Road, replacing the affected section.
Brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro 300 low floor buses were introduced as part of a relaunch of the route in June 2005. Thirteen vehicles, costing £1.5 million, entered service operating from both Worcester and Kidderminster depots due to staff shortage at the 144's native Worcester depot, by September all vehicles had returned to operate from the Worcester depot. In recent times, whilst visiting the local area, famous Stoke activist, Simon 'North' Mitchell remarked on the quality of the 144 service in his book 'How to bus Britain the right way'. The 144 also saw popular acclaim on the Bromsgrove Standard Facebook page, as many users used the page to find out if the service was running. It is thought the Facebook page received more enquiries than Travel West Midlands' hotline.
In May 2013, the short Worcester - Catshill journeys in the daytime were renumbered as 144A and operate via Webbs of Wychbold, a short deviation off the main 144 route.
On 12 April 2009, Diamond Bus started operations on the route, only running between Birmingham and Bromsgrove, replacing the 64 service, which they had previously operated on a similar route. Actual operations did not begin until the next day because the start date was a bank holiday; this was reduced to only run between Bromsgrove and Rubery in January 2010, before being withdrawn completely on 4 April 2010.
2007 Worcestershire Flooding
Regular 144 driver Josie Millward received recognition in the form of a First Superstar award in July 2007 for her actions during the severe flooding in Worcestershire in 2007. Upon reaching an impassable road she made her mobile phone available to passengers to contact friends and relatives to inform them that they would be delayed, even adding extra credit to the phone when it ran low. Other drivers on the route also received praise for their actions during the floods.
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- Campaign to save service (From Ledbury Reporter)
- Town services facing the axe (From Bromsgrove Advertiser)
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- Garden centre backs bus link for shoppers (From Bromsgrove Advertiser)
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- "Notices And Proceedings" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-05.
- First Group Retrieved 23 June 2010
- Worcester News Retrieved 23 June 2010
- Stourbridge News Retrieved 23 June 2010