We ask Birmingham: Should bus services in in the city be controlled by the council?

The people of Birmingham react to a call to make bus services in the city and across the West Midlands publicly owned as our video journalist Richard Gullick visits to city centre to get their views

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Calls have been made by two Birmingham councillors to bring control of bus services into the hands of local authorities rather than private companies.

The request was made before National Express West Midlands announced it was putting up the price of bus fares - from £4 to £4.50 for a day tripper and a weekly pass increasing from £15 to £17. Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has expressed ‘disappointment’ over the rise and many passengers have spoken out about it.

Complaints of infrequency and poor maintenance spurred the proposal for buses to be put under the contorl of local councils across the West Midlands. I speak to people here in Birmingham to see if they agree.

Abdul says: “I catch the bus to uni. I go to anywhere where I want to meet up, that’s quite far away, I’d catch the bus. But the buses can be quite unregulated in terms of like, the sanitary - like how clean they are. And also the security on them, because sometimes you get people that are behaving in erratic ways and ways that you just wouldn’t feel comfortable in on the bus.

“So, yeah, and to do with private, I actually didn’t even know that buses were privately owned just until this question! I think that they definitely should be council funded because when it’s private owned, it means that there’s not as much incentive for the community, which is what buses are supposed to be for - the community and for the people. So I think if it’s private owned, they have more of an incentive for profit, rather than for the people.”

Abdul in Birmingham talks about bus services in the regionAbdul in Birmingham talks about bus services in the region
Abdul in Birmingham talks about bus services in the region

Charlie says: “With these kinds of regards, usually I find public ownership of these kinds of companies often work better than privatised companies. I’d prefer the trains to be public as well, to be honest, because currently they’re mostly completely money oriented.

“And it is often difficult to even find a seat on the bus or the train. I understand entirely why things are done a certain way. But I think, truth be known. You know, I’ve been caught up by revenue inspectors before in this kind of thing. And the prices have been absolutely incredible used to be £2.60 last year, then £3.40 - before you know, it’s like £5.20.

“I’m in Acocks Green so getting to Jewellery Quarter and back - £5.20 is a lot of money, and the fact it’s doubled -I mean people’s wages have been doubled. It’s indicative of people looking after the bottom line - private companies want their shareholders to do well.

“If these bus companies and rail companies are in public ownership we’ll be looking after different kinds of things because profit can’t really be the only motive for doing these things. Obviously they need money, they need to run. But doing things just for profit often come at a detrimental effect to the average Joe like you and me.”

Holly in Birmingham tells us her thoughts on local bus servicesHolly in Birmingham tells us her thoughts on local bus services
Holly in Birmingham tells us her thoughts on local bus services

Holly says: “I think a well run business can be a well run business, whether owned by public or owned by private companies. I equally think a poorly run business can be run by either one. I think the main focus should be what’s going wrong, what could be improved? And how do we do that? There’s lots and lots of different ways.”