A community bus introduced for residents in Wolverhampton has proved so successful its hours of operation are to be extended.
The 61 was brought in by Centro for people living in the Goldthorn Park as part of the Wolverhampton and West Walsall area review in 2011.
It provides a link to Wolverhampton city centre and has proved so popular with users since being launched last July they have dubbed themselves the 61 Club.
As a result of its successful launch 12 months ago the service is now to be extended from four days a week to six days a week, running Monday to Saturday, starting from 2nd September 2012.
Local councillor Judith Rowley said she was delighted the service was to be extended.
“The 61 is in huge demand and has really pulled the community together. As a measure of how popular it is the people who use it call themselves the 61 Club,” she said.
“It gives people access to Wolverhampton’s markets and it is so important, it is a real lifeline for the community of Goldthorn Park.
“But it’s more than just a travel opportunity. Extending the service has provides a significant opportunity to feel even more socially included.”
Stephen Rhodes, director of passenger services for Centro, said: “We are delighted that the 61 has proved so popular.
“As a result of the encouraging patronage we have seen in just the first few months of operation we are more than happy that we have had to increase the number of days it operates.”
The 61 is an off-peak service in Goldthorn Park introduced following a review of bus services in the city by Centro, the region’s transport authority, local bus companies and Wolverhampton City Council.
It replaced the former 641, which had previously been withdrawn because of low passenger usage, and is now carrying an average of 106 passengers a day.
The service is operated under subsidy from Centro by West Midlands Special Needs Transport (WMSNT), which operates the region’s Ring and Ride service.
It currently operates between 9.30am and 3.30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, but from September 2 will also run on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
It starts at Ednam Road in Goldthorn Park, running along Hornby Road, Himley Crescent, Dudley Road, Mason Street, then into Queen Street in Wolverhampton city centre, Victoria Street then Wolverhampton markets.
WMSNT chief executive Peter Maggs said: “We have aimed to provide a high quality, reliable and friendly community bus service in the way that we have always tried to deliver the essential and popular Ring and Ride service.
“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Centro in responding to the needs of the residents of Goldthorn Park, as recognised by Councillor Rowley.
“We believe that by employing the considerate and caring ethos of WMSNT on the estate based community bus service it has encouraged passengers to use the 61 service, and we look forward to being involved in delivering many more such services throughout the West Midlands in future”.