A PETITION has been launched to save a long-running bus route in Gornal from the axe.

Bus operator National Express West Midlands has launched a consultation, which ends today, looking into a shake up of services serving Dudley, Gornal, Stourbridge and Kingswinford.

Under the proposals the number 17 route from Dudley to Stourbridge via Gornal could be in line for the chop.

The possibility of the service being scrapped has led to concern in Gornal, where it is a widely used service for people travelling to Dudley, Stourbridge and Kingswinford.

Councillor David Stanley, along with Councillor Anne Millward, have launched a paper petition calling on National Express to save the number 17 route, alongside encouraging people to respond to the consultation online.

Councillor Stanley, who also serves as the Mayor of Dudley, said: "The route has served the people of Gornal for well over forty years, I've found old bus timetables going back to August 1977.

"I feel really strongly about it. Some of the elderly people are devastated about the fact they could take the service away from us.

"We want to get the petition in to National Express before they make a final decision."

Councillor Stanley also criticised the company for launching the consultation during the summer break, when many students and commuters who rely on the service are on holiday.

He says he will be contacting Andy Street, the West Midlands Mayor, in a bid to save the service.

Councillor Stanley said how slashing the service does not chime with calls to make a fully integrated public transport system in the West Midlands, considering many people use the service to travel to Stourbridge to catch trains.

Councillor Millward added: "We realised a lot of people don't use computers or have access to the internet so we have made a paper petition and put it out in shops in Gornal."

The petition is available to sign in the Spar, post office and Junction shop by the bus stops in Lower Gornal and has also been delivered to homes close to the route.

Councillor Anne Millward is hopeful that the petition has reached up to 10,000 people.

Explaining the importance of the service, Councillor Millward said: "The plans would mean we have to change at Kingswinford to get to Stourbridge. It's going to impact students getting to King Eds and people who get the bus to Stourbridge to catch the train.

"It's going to have a massive impact. The route to Dudley could go through the Wren's Nest so it's going to take a lot longer to get to Dudley."

She added how bus passengers already face inconvenience in Gornal with some buses unable to get through the narrow streets blocked by cars.

Councillor Millward added: "We're trying to get more people to use public transport, so this is a kick in the teeth."

The online consultation closes today (August 9), but the petition will be available to sign into next week, when it will then be handed by the councillors to National Express West Midlands.

The consultation can be completed here: http://bit.ly/2MOcr27

National Express West Midlands says the proposed changes will lead to improved reliability with more buses serving Russells Hall Hospital.