Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Transport User Voice – February 2020 – Bucking bus decline in the West Midlands

05 February 2020

Our work with the Bus Alliance

Transport Focus is encouraging people in the West Midlands to Give Bus A Go. So it’s very pleasing to see that the number of people catching the bus in the West Midlands is increasing, bucking the trend nationally where many cities and towns are seeing decline.

Our ‘Give Bus A Go’ campaign, launched in September, saw local volunteers (the ‘busketeers’) who rarely or never travel by bus try it out for a month. 

Most were pleasantly surprised, like Bernie: 

“Giving Bus a go has been a pleasant experience as the buses and planning apps have been greatly modernised making the experience of using the buses more enjoyable than I remember 10 years ago.” 

Now the number of people catching the bus in the West Midlands is increasing, bucking the trend nationally where many cities and towns are seeing decline. Recent government data showed an increase of almost eight million journeys over the last year, with passenger numbers rising to 267.1 up from 259.3 million during the previous 12 months. 

Transport Focus’s Linda McCord, who also chairs the West Midlands Bus Alliance, said: “We knew that those who used the bus liked it – and our busketeers agreed. Most of them are still using it now. Breaking down the barriers to bus use and understanding the perceptions of non-users is vital in building a successful bus network. 

“We shared their feedback with Bus Alliance partners to further improve bus services, and will continue the campaign into 2020.” 

The Bus Alliance is a partnership between Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), bus operating companies, Transport Focus and the Safer Travel Team 

The Bus Alliance aims to make journeys quicker and easier and provide better value for passengers, to make it more attractive for young people and to drive investment in buses to both reduce emissions and increase comfort. 

Recent passenger benefits include:  

  • millions of pounds invested in highways and junctions, including the new Harborne bus lanes, to reduce bottlenecks and improve reliability of services
  • introduction of low-fare zones and a decision to extend half-price travel to all 16-18 year olds
  • convenient payment by mobile phone, the Swift travel card and contactless cards and live timetable apps are making bus travel easier.

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