Plans to transform bus services over the next three years include introducing more transport safety officers and a streamlined fare structure as part of £88 million package of measures.
Further proposals outlined in the region’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) will see greater coordination between Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and private operators, improvements to the bus network and more targeted fare offers and flexible ticketing to encourage new and returning customers onto buses.
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), drew up the plan in answer to the Government’s ‘Bus Back Better’ call for proposals to improve bus services following the Covid pandemic.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, said: “Travelling by bus remains a popular choice for West Midlands residents. Pre pandemic, we were the only region outside London where bus passenger numbers were increasing – helped of course by our lower fares and offers like half-price for apprentices.
“Now we want to see our bus services bounce back from Covid and this plan sets out how we will go about doing just that – winning back not just existing customer loyalty but also encouraging even more people to give the bus a go.
“We are setting out how we are making bus journeys more comfortable, more convenient, and more affordable – not to mention safer by increasing the numbers of uniformed and visible transport safety officers out on patrol across the bus network.”
The report to the WMCA Board also warned of risks of some bus services being lost at the same time as Covid-19 support funding handed to operators from Government throughout the pandemic is withdrawn later this year and operators face the challenge of rising fuel costs. TfWM will continue discussions with Government over support for existing bus services.