Bus services saved from axe after regional review - The Solihull Observer

Bus services saved from axe after regional review

Solihull Editorial 10th Dec, 2022   0

SOME bus services at risk of being axed due to the rise in fuel prices and reduced passenger numbers have been saved.

A total of 26 bus services across the West Midlands will continue after 39 went under the microscope during a six week review.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has now stepped in to fund and part-fund the services deemed socially necessary where commercial bus companies are unable to provide the service for profit.

These subsidies are targeted at services where there are gaps in the region’s bus network to ensure as many residents as possible have access to bus services.

Despite an £800,000 increase in the annual subsidy – taking the total budget to £16.3million – TfWM was unable to fully fund the 117 bus service contracts up for renewal at the end of December.

The 13 other services will cease operation at the end of the year.

The review looked at which services delivered the most benefit for passengers and considered the following: passenger numbers, value for money for the taxpayer and alternative services are available in the area.

While many routes will be retained as they are, like the number nine from Leasowes Avenue to Coventry Rail Station, some will have routes or timetables altered.

Pete Bond, TfWM director of integrated transport services, said: “The environment for bus operators is highly challenging right now so some difficult decisions have had to be made.

“We were, by making the most use of funding available, able to save the majority of at risk services and keep the disruption to a minimum.

“But this unfortunately means that some people will have lost their local bus service, but I would urge them to check the TfWM website and journey planner to see what alternatives are available.

“There is still some good news for travellers on the bus network, including the fare freeze agreed with operators to keep fares at the current levels until 2025 – this is already protecting passengers from cost of living rises we are seeing elsewhere meaning the West Midlands has some of the lowest fares across England.

“In the medium term we are also planning further investment in bus priority lanes and cross-city services. These are all designed to make bus a more attractive, affordable and convenient alternative to the car – such as on the A45 where Sprint bus lanes are already cutting journey times and improving reliability of timetables.”

The full list of changes is available on the TfWM website and will be communicated to passengers ahead of the change on January 1.

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