Mayor’s plan to control buses

More than £75 million has been spent by the West Midlands Combined Authority over 18 months on subsidies to keep the region’s buses on the road.

Without this heavy subsidy, thousands of passengers would have faced either inflation-busting fare increases or dramatic cuts in the bus network with many evening and weekend services wiped out.

With the support only in place until the end of the year, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has already started talks with Government and bus operators over further funding to prevent reduction in services or steep fare increases in 2025.

Richard Parker, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This is unsustainable, our bus network is broken and that is why we want to take back control so that it serves the people, communities and businesses who rely on regular, affordable and reliable bus services.

“I have directed our officers to put a report before the WMCA Board at the earliest opportunity to set out a roadmap for franchising the region’s bus services as quickly as possible – and get us ready to start that transition in 2025.

Richard Parker comment

“We will consult communities and businesses, to create a network which enables people to get to work, school, college or hospital – providing access to essential services, an affordable alternative to the car and reducing traffic congestion.

“We are also talking to the Labour leadership, who if successful at the general election, will introduce measures to make it easier and speed up the process towards franchising – I will make sure this benefits the West Midlands.”

Although TfWM is covering about half the running costs of bus services, the private bus operators make decisions about routes, fares, and timetables. Under the franchised model TfWM will decide these and award contracts to operators to run services to set specifications.

A successful bus network is a key part of the combined authority’s plans to better connect our people to job, education and leisure opportunities, decarbonise the transport network and grow regional economies.

Image credit: iStock


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