- 247 and 248 - I said in my last post that these routes were Rog's favourites, but I have quite an affinity with them myself. I remember catching the routes during some of my earliest bus trips, visiting the Merry Hill Centre with Stuart and then riding out for my first ever look at Stourbridge. The routes introduced me to places such as Lye and Pedmore, and it was great to say a fond farewell with a final ride last Saturday.
- 223 and 224 - these routes still exist of course, but have been modified and are now operated by Choice Travel. As Travel West Midlands services the routes always intrigued me - the prospect of riding the 223 from Bilston to Gornal Wood on a Pensnett Garage minibus especially so. When taking photos at Bilston the routes always offered the prospect of a bit of variety compared to the standard Wolverhampton Garage vehicles, and I also relished the chance of exploring routes that get to the heart of the community by visiting local estates such as Sedgemoor Park, Woodcross and Beacon Hill.
- 264 and 265 - popular Dudley circular services that prompted quite some protest when the decision to withdraw them was announced. My favourite memory involves catching the 264 down Ashwood Park with Rog during our first ever outing - before boarding the bus, I took a certain photo that sparked off a whole bald spot debate that still rages to this very day! I also sampled the routes more recently when visiting Woodside and discovering the Rangeways Road estate round the back of Wordsley Hospital - very intriguing.
- 236 and 237 - more Rog memories here, involving a rain-soaked ride from Blackheath Market Place down to Halesowen during one of our early trips, and a later trip that took us down to Long Lane Library and Quinton. The 236 has also provided me with fond photographic memories at Gornal Wood Bus Station, its always a buzz when I add a new route photo into my collection.
- 225 - a little local estate service that has now been absorbed into the revised 224. The route provided a cracking little minibus ride around the Uplands estate and Warrens Hall during my recent visit to Paradise.
- 293 - another favourite from the Rog trips, this local circular service linking Stourbridge and Wollaston Farm has now been absorbed into the X96 service. I recall catching the bus down to Wollaston Farm before heading off to explore Bells Mill Bridge and Ashwood Park, and one of my all-time favourite bus photos is the one I took of the route at Kingsway.
- 260 and 261 - and finally, a quick word for a couple of routes I mentioned last time. The 260 has been a long-standing acquaintance of mine, with its quirks including the section through Swindon and Hinksford where you feel you are leaving the West Midlands behind, plus the fact you can guarantee the bus will get crowded heading up through Bromley, not to mention the usual traffic nightmare at Brierley Hill. The route will still effectively exist, having been renumbered and slightly tweaked in the Bromley area. As for the 261, I can look back happily on a ride from Wombourne to Dudley with Rog, heading round the back end of Wombourne village and also catching a closer look at Pensnett. I noted previously that there has been criticism of the loss of a key link to the local hospital, so it will be interesting to see if the route is resurrected in some form or another.
A few nostalgic reflections there, but it is worth noting that whilst some familiar routes and numbers will change or vanish, there will be new and revised routes covering the same areas so that a bus service will still be available. The aim of the network review has been to create a simplified, more logical network that is easier for passengers to understand and provides better access - it remains to be seen whether such an aim will be ultimately achieved. I rather sense that the network has been tweaked instead of being radically overhauled, so whether an opportunity has been missed to truly start afresh I'm not certain. I look forward to getting out and about exploring the new network in order to find out!