West Midlands public transport sees passengers surge during the Commonwealth Games

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Local train, tram, cycle, and bus travel all saw record breaking numbers across the eleven days as hundreds of thousands of sports fans made their way around the region

Spectators, residents, and visitors to the West Midlands helped the region’s public transport network reach record numbers during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Hundreds of thousands of sports fans made their way around the region on local train, tram, cycle, and bus services.

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Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), working with transport operators and local authorities, developed, delivered and coordinated transport services for spectators throughout the Games, including running some 600 shuttle buses to and from venues across the region.

Records included:

  • More than 650,000 spectator journeys on shuttle buses.
  • Birmingham New Street recording its busiest day since opening, with over 255,000 passengers travelling through the station on Saturday August 6.
  • The West Midlands Metro patronage doubling its pre-covid numbers.
  • West Midlands Cycle Hire doubling the number of bike and e-bike rentals with 28,000 hires during the Commonwealth Games.
  • 64,910 parking spaces being booked through the park and ride service across the region throughout the Games, serving approximately 179,800 spectators.
  • National Express West Midlands, who operate the local bus service, reached pre-pandemic passenger numbers (110%) for the first time on Sunday 7 August. 
  • And National Express Coach, the largest UK operator of scheduled coach services, put on hundreds of extra services to carry people from across the country during the Games.
Transport for West MidlandsTransport for West Midlands
Transport for West Midlands

How were these record breaking public transport figures achieved?

TfWM said these records were broken because all event ticket holders had public transport included in their ticket price as part of the Commonwealth Games Transport Plan.

This was agreed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board in June 2021 and helped to make Birmingham 2022 a greener Games.

The focus on public transport and shuttle buses meant that private car use and traffic congestion was kept to an absolute minimum throughout.

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National Express bus in Birmingham city centreNational Express bus in Birmingham city centre
National Express bus in Birmingham city centre

What have West Midlands leaders and transport chiefs said about this achievement in their own words?

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “As we reflect on the phenomenal success of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, it’s only right that we take a moment to appreciate all the work that has been done to manage the record numbers of people visiting our region.

“It has been a remarkable team effort to get fans to and from sporting events right across the West Midlands so I’d like to say a huge thank you and well done to everyone involved in keeping the system moving.

“Thousands of volunteers have offered visitors a warm welcome to the West Midlands – pointing guests in the right direction as they navigated festivities – so congratulations to all of them on all they’ve done over the last couple of weeks.

“Beyond the volunteers, I’m extremely grateful to all the staff on our buses, trains, trams and car parks who have in their own unique way played a vital role in ensuring people made it to events across the region safely and on time.”

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Birmingham City Council Leader Ian WardBirmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward
Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The transport system has played a crucial part in what has been a fantastic Commonwealth Games for Birmingham and the West Midlands – a once in a lifetime event enjoyed by all.

“It is testament to the planning and delivery of our services that both public transport and our road network was by and large kept moving throughout the eleven days of action.

“It shows what can be achieved through affordable public transport and I hope that many of those who took the opportunity to try our buses, trains, trams and cycle hire will keep on using them, or use their cars a little less, and leave a real green legacy from these Games.”

Tom Stables, CEO of National Express UK, explains: “The travel requirement for such a big event meant there was significant additional demand on both our local bus services in the West Midlands and our UK-wide coach network.

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“There has been a real spirit of joint partnership working with the Games organisers and all of the local authorities to put a plan in place so that visitors and residents alike could get to and around the region - and it’s been a huge success that we’re proud to have played a part of.”

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