Transport chiefs were on hand when a new £1.9m bus and rail interchange opened its doors for the first time to weekday commuters.

Passengers arriving at Cradley Heath Interchange yesterday (Monday July 27) were able to take advantage of a new waiting area, improved access to train services and four connected bus stands with digital timetable information.

The interchange, built by Centro, the delivery arm of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA), has been financed through the Government’s Better Bus Area Fund, a £10 million project to improve public transport in Brierley Hill, Merry Hill and Cradley Heath. Funding has also been provided by the Department for Transport, bus operators, Centro, Sandwell Council and Dudley Council.

Cllr Roger Horton, lead member for rail and Metro on the ITA’s Transport Delivery Committee, said:
“It was great to see passengers enjoying the real world improvements this new interchange offers.”

“Not only does it provide first rate waiting facilities for rail and bus passengers but also provides better connectivity for people using the Merry Hill shopping centre and those travelling further afield.”

The design and layout of the new interchange, which includes new toilet facilities, has seen an additional two bus stands built on a newly constructed island, replacing the previous bus stop on Forge Lane.

A zebra crossing through the heart of the interchange connects the six stands which all feature automatic doors that open only when the bus has arrived. Cyclists are provided for with a new covered bike stand.

Teresa Woodward, delivery manager for London Midland, said:
“The new interchange means a range of transport options – train, bus, car and bike – have been brought together in one place making it far easier for people to transfer between them.”

“It is another example of how we are all working together to improve public transport for people across the West Midlands.”

Kerry Jukes-Rowe, Pensnett bus garage manager for National Express West Midlands, added:
“Thousands of our bus customers use Cradley Heath every week and they will greatly benefit from the opening of these new and extended facilities.”