Bring back Birmingham night buses plea from West Midlands night-time economy tsar

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Birmingham’s night time economy tsar Lawrence Barton is calling for night buses to make a return across the West Midlands

The night-time economy tsar for Birmingham is calling for night buses to make a return across the West Midlands.

Lawrence Barton, who is chair of Southside BID as well as being the official night-time economy champion for Birmingham City Council, said having buses through the night was “essential” to the city’s entertainment economy.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He is urging the candidates in the forthcoming West Midlands mayoral election, which is being held on May 2, to commit to trials. Currently bus services stop at 12.30pm or before 1am and start again around 4am, although the first number 50 leaves Druids Heath at 3.25am.

Last month, £16.5m worth of funding for a Bus Service Improvement Plan was allocated to Transport for West Midlands by the Department for Transport, to help grow passenger numbers. Commenting on this investment, the current West Midlands mayor Andy Street said that it could include the return of some night buses to “make a real difference for those going out for an evening or for shift workers … support[ing] our night-time economy”.

Night busNight bus
Night bus

Mr Barton’s call comes after Andy Burnham, the elected mayor for Greater Manchester, confirmed that a night bus trial is going ahead to serve his city centre this year, with the aim to commence hourly all-night services this summer. 

Mr Barton said: “Birmingham has one of the most exciting nightlife offerings in the UK, but at the same time we suffer from having very little public transport running much after midnight. This means that thousands of workers serving in bars and nightclubs, plus tens of thousands of customers, have no easy or economic way of getting back home if they live outside the city centre.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Ideally we would have night buses to serve everyone, but we’re also keen on trialling a ring-and-ride service to make things easier and safer for staff to get home.”

Richard Parker, Labour’s candidate in the mayoral election, explained that he wanted to take buses back into public control to help drive the region's economy, including the night-time economy. Mr Parker said: “I believe that night buses must return, not just in Birmingham but in other areas of the West Midlands as well, and we’ll be looking into that with a desire to make it happen.”

Mr Barton said: “I am pleased that Richard Parker wants to see night-time buses, and that Andy Street has indicated that he’s keen to see the return of such services too. But we now want a firm commitment from the next mayor to fund trials as soon as possible, so that local authorities and bus companies can see the level of demand that’s out there and deliver what is needed."

Mr Barton added: “The fact that Manchester is going ahead with a trial for night buses makes it even more urgent that Birmingham has a trial too.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.