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Proposals to fine bus companies for turning up late and running unreliable services have been greetedwith a lukewarm response after they were first revealed by Birmingham councillor Martin Mullaney on this site. Barbara Panvel reckons we need to change the terms of the debate (and bring back conductors, of course)

Cllr Martin Mullaney's energetic campaign to get car drivers to use buses more often will get nowhere if it is restricted to exhortation.

In the responses to his appeal, people have reminded him that public transport has been found to be dirty, uncomfortable, expensive and unreliable. But there are other factors deterring would-be bus users.

I have noticed that once or twice a month there will be a passenger who smells so badly that people yards away are affected to the point of nausea. Medical and social help should be arranged for people in such a condition, for their own sake and that of those around them.

Some bus routes are better than others: in Solihull Lodge the Maypole bus into Birmingham, number 2, inconveniently stops running from about 6.45pm. It does not run at all on Sunday.

Anyone on that route needing to attend meetings in Birmingham will miss them unless 75 minutes is allowed for a door-to-door journey which would take 20 mins in a car. Byrail too often there is a bland announcement that ‘the train has been cancelled'

There is also the nonsense of waiting overlong for a bus and then seeing two or even three together. An official at the bus garage said that this is due to regulations: if the first bus has been delayed, the other drivers will not lay by for a while because they would be fined for not keeping to time.

Journeys on traditional buses would be undertaken with more confidence if caring conductors with a sense of humour and total command of the English language are reintroduced.

When in Manchester, and travelling through the Black Country, taking the Metro is a delight - it's calmer version of a fairground ride. The West Midlands has its own manufacturer of such vehicles. J.M. Parry could adapt their attractive people movers to run on certain routes, one being an urban link from central Birmingham to the Eastside development.

These lightweight rail & road vehicles, if more widely used, could increase the number of skilled jobs in the region with all the economic benefits to suppliers and retailers that would bring. They are better for the environment and, will attract people out of their cars.

Mr Mullaney, please note!
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