Buses in Birmingham & West Midlands to get £16.6m boost with extra services & safety officers - full details

Birmingham bus stopBirmingham bus stop
Birmingham bus stop | Transport for West Midlands
Transport for West Midlands has announced five key improvements for bus services in Birmingham and across the West Midlands in £16.6m boost

Five key improvements to bus services in Birmingham and the West Midlands have been announced by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) amid a £16.6m funding package.

The developments are being delivered as part of the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) to encourage more people to use local buses.

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The BSIP programme aims to make buses a more affordable, reliable, and greener alternative to private cars. The latest funding builds on an earlier £88m award to the region in 2022 which has partly been used to support the bus network as the industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of rising fuel costs.

What are the five key improvement we can expect to see for buses in Birmingham and the West Midlands?

Regional transport bosses have now agreed a programme of investment for the new BSIP funding at the WMCA Board meeting today (Friday, 15th March). Having been agreed by the WMCA Board, the final package of measures will need final approval from the DfT. Proposals include:

  1. Using the majority of the funding to improve bus services by increasing frequencies and operating longer hours on key route.
  2. Six more transport safety officers to be deployed to tackle anti-social behaviour and provide added reassurance to the travelling public
  3. Better passenger information – both traditional printed timetables at bus stops and real time arrival information
  4. A pilot programme to give buses priority at traffic lights using intelligent technology.
  5. Further simplification and integration of ticketing and fares across the region’s bus operators

Birmingham bus stopBirmingham bus stop
Birmingham bus stop | Transport for West Midlands

The investment in real time information – telling passengers exactly when their bus will arrive or immediately alerting them if a service is delayed or cancelled – follows detailed work by TfWM and operators to improve the accuracy and quality of live information.

The new BSIP funding would fund the roll out of QR codes at all 12,500 bus stops in the region to access, via smartphone, the latest live arrival information. Work is also underway to develop the data flows between buses, operators and TfWM, improve the digital screens at bus stops and launch a new mobility as a service (MaaS) smartphone app to better relay that information to passengers.

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The earlier £88 million grant, awarded in 2022, has already been used to simplify bus ticketing across multiple operators – known as the ‘bonfire of bus tickets’, keep fares amongst the lowest in the UK and maintain the bus network at near current levels until 2025.

‘Buses are the backbone of our transport network’

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “Buses continue to be the backbone of our transport network - providing a vital daily service for hundreds of thousands of local people across our region.

“That’s why this additional BSIP funding is so important. It builds on the foundation laid by our initial £88 million investment and provides the opportunity to further transform and improve the bus network.

“I am pleased to see that it includes an assessment of delivering more bus services, and improved frequency of some services, as well as increased hours of operation. That could allow the return of some 24 hour buses to provide night services, this would not only make a real difference for those going out for an evening or for shift workers, but also support our night time economy.”

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Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio lead for transport and leader of Walsall Council, added: “The West Midlands continues to be successful in securing unprecedented funding for our bus network.

“The allocation of an additional £16 million provides us with a great opportunity to build on our earlier investment which has already protected our network from severe cuts while we work on a long-term plan. This reflects our commitment to deliver a robust, accessible, and advanced public transportation system for the people of the West Midlands."

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