Bus services safeguarded after £40m cash injection
West Midlands bus services are to continue to operate at near current levels until 2025, following a £40m investment from Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).
The agreement between TfWM and bus operating companies including National Express West Midlands and Diamond Bus, means the threat of one-third of services being withdrawn or reduced has been stopped.
TfWM has now reallocated part of the region’s £88m Bus Service Improvement Plan to keep services running whilst long-term funding is found. Operators have faced increasing cost pressures due to steep rises in fuel, maintenance, and staff costs over the last two years and are struggling to keep buses on the road following the end of the government’s Covid support funding in June.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, led talks with the bus companies and Government to secure the agreement to protect services.
He said: “Buses are the backbone of our public transport network – providing a vital daily service for tens of thousands of local people right across our region at the same time as helping us to tackle the climate emergency and reduce traffic congestion on our roads.
“That’s why we simply could not allow a substantial reduction in services and I personally made the case on behalf of our region during intensive discussions with the likes of National Express West Midlands and Government. By stepping in and arranging this funding package to maintain bus service provision, we’ve successfully secured much needed certainty for the network all the way through to the end of next year”.
Alex Jensen, CEO of National Express UK & Germany said: “We welcome the support from Transport for West Midlands which will ensure we can maintain the bus network at the current level until the end of 2024.
“Our many customers depend on our services every day and we are pleased to confirm they can continue to rely on them.
“Meanwhile we are continuing the investment in electric and zero-emission buses which are both good for the environment and will help keep costs low. We will also work closely with our partners to seek a long term solution to the issues facing the bus industry at the present time.”