West Midlands bus fares are to be frozen at current levels until 2025 under a new plan agreed with operators to assist new and existing passengers with the cost of living - saving the average commuter £250 a year.
This means that people will be able to hop on and off the region’s buses all day for the same price they would have paid in 2013 – currently £4.20 for a multi-operator day ticket.
The fare freeze is just one part of a wide ranging £88 million Bus Service Improvement Plan, which is being delivered to drive up passenger numbers and reduce private car use over the next three years.
The Bus Service Improvement Plan has been developed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in partnership with the region’s bus operators.
And they are set to review the number of fares and ticket types with a view to reducing and simplifying them for passengers.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA said: “Our region's bus services continue to be amongst the most affordable in the entire country with day tickets already the same price they were a decade ago - with our guarantee in place to keep them low through to 2025.
“This is a genuine success story given the fuel price rises and broader cost of living challenges facing many of our fellow local residents at this time. So I encourage people to leave the car and give the bus a go as not only is it great value for money, it's also better for the environment. Supported by the Government funded Bus Service Improvement Plan, together we can help passenger numbers build back up post pandemic."
David Bradford, managing director of National Express West Midlands, said: “If you’re an average commuter, you will save £250 next year thanks to these frozen fares.
“We know how tough things are at the moment and we’re pleased to be working with WMCA to help our customers in any way we can. As well as being better value than ever, it's also simpler than ever: just tap on with your contactless card - there's no more need to find the exact change."
Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: “Our £88 million investment is rapidly helping passengers in the West Midlands to benefit from cheaper and cleaner buses.
“West Midlands’ decision to freeze fares will not only help passengers at a time of rising costs, but will also reduce the number of cars on our roads.”
In addition to the £88m investment in services, the region is also developing new infrastructure and introducing new vehicles. This includes cross-city bus priority routes, the first of which links Dudley and Druids Heath via Birmingham City Centre, plus more bus priority measures and greener vehicles.
As well as the All Electric Bus City project in Coventry which will ensure every bus in the city is a zero-emission electric vehicle by 2025. The first of these are due to enter service in the next few weeks. The region is also planning the development of the UK’s largest hydrogen bus fleet, with 124 set to enter service over the next two years.
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Buses are by far the most used form of public transport across the region so this fare freeze will have a huge impact and help many thousands of people at a time when other bills are rising.
“That is just one part of our plans for bus services with funding in place and designs being developed for 50 kilometres of bus lanes and priority measures over the next five years, more cross-city bus routes and hundreds of greener electric and hydrogen buses on order.
“This investment will not only make buses more affordable, but also more comfortable, convenient and reliable for passengers. Helping us reduce private car use and improve our environment.”