Published: 3rd May 2024

Transport Museum to celebrate 75 years of Birmingham’s 50 bus route

Transport Museum Wythall is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Birmingham’s iconic 50 bus service this Spring bank holiday weekend.

On 26th and 27th May the Transport Museum, based on Chapel Lane in Wythall just outside Birmingham, will pay tribute to the long-running 50 bus service by providing free bus rides to Kings Heath and back on historic buses that have served the route since the late 1940s.

The frequent 50 bus service, operated by National Express West Midlands, connects Druids Heath and Birmingham city centre via the Maypole, Kings Heath, Moseley and Highgate. It turns 75 this year, having first started running in 1949.

The special trips on different buses through the ages of the 50 route, are part of Transport Museum Wythall’s anniversary celebrations over the late May bank holiday weekend. The Museum will also be host to a number of other activities and memorabilia stands including models and photographs.

Wythall Museum 50

Ed Rickard, Network Director for National Express UK and Ireland, said:

“Bus is by far the most popular form of public transport here in the West Midlands and our 50 service has long-been a Brummie favourite since it first started some 75 years ago.

“With buses running up to every 5 minutes and single adult tickets still only £2 until the end of this year, it remains a very popular route that connects our customers in a number of key areas between Druids Heath and the city centre.

“We hope families and friends will go along to the Transport Museum this Spring bank holiday and enjoy a trip down memory lane with all of the historic vehicles that have served our renowned 50 route over the last three quarters of a century.”  

Malcolm Keeley, Collections Manager at Transport Museum Wythall, said:

"The 50 bus service took over in 1949 from the tramcars that ran as far as Alcester Lanes End. It has always been a busy service and the Transport Museum Wythall is delighted to be celebrating its 75th birthday while wondering just how many millions of passengers the 50 has carried during all those years! 

“On the day, we will be running several generations of buses between our museum and Kings Heath. We shall follow the 50 route in one direction and, in the other, for variety, show our passengers parts of the attractive suburb they may not be familiar with."

The 50 service originally terminated at the Maypole and in 1981 it was extended to Druids Heath, with the seven-mile journey taking around 40 minutes from the beginning to the end. Thanks to National Express West Midlands continued participation in the Government’s £2 fare cap scheme, bus users can continue to enjoy discounted single fares until the end of 2024. 

National Express West Midlands runs the 50 service out of its Yardley Wood depot, with over 5 million passengers using it each year. It has 38 stops from Birmingham city centre to Druids Heath, and 37 stops in the other direction.

In 1997, the 50 service was the first National Express West Midlands route to have a fleet of low-floor double deckers including 20 DAF DB250LF and Optare Spectra vehicles.

For more information about the Transport Museum Wythall visit their website. National Express West Midlands 50 bus service timetables are available here.

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