£81 million partnership will transform bus travel in the West Midlands

National Express West Midlands and Centro sign £81m Partnership Plus agreement to transform bus travel.

London-style smartcards and hundreds of new buses form part of a wide-ranging transport package worth more than £80 million set to transform bus travel in the West Midlands.

A new bus station in Merry Hill and improved infrastructure for Coventry and Wolverhampton city centres are other highlights of the Partnership Plus agreement between Centro and National Express West Midlands.

It will also see the introduction of the Swift smartcard on to the National Express West Midlands network, allowing all ticket deals to be loaded on to the card.

The two year agreement signed by the region's biggest bus company and the regional transport authority will build on the improvements delivered by previous partnerships.

It will include more new buses, more real time information at bus stops and extra on-bus cleaners.

The previous partnership, Transforming Bus Travel 2, achieved 100% of its objectives including the introduction of a smartphone app, delivering the region's first green hybrid buses and increasing the number of ticket inspectors on the bus network.

Partnership Plus will also deliver ambitious new programs including Sprint, a European-style rapid transport system, and ten 'gold' bus corridors which will benefit from new vehicles, better bus priority measures and real time information at stops.

The deal, which sees £65 million of investment by National Express and £16 million by Centro, will deliver:

  • 300 new buses including 15 environmentally friendly hybrids
  • Ten new gold bus corridors; benefitting from new buses, real time information and increased bus priority
  • 350 new bus shelters
  • A new bus station at Merry Hill and refurbishments to Dudley bus station
  • Swift smartcard
  • New infrastructure, shelters and information provision for Wolverhampton and Coventry city centres
  • Expansion of the successful on-bus cleaning scheme
  • More bus priority to make journeys across the region quicker
  • More 'talking buses' featuring audio visual equipment informing passengers of their next stop
  • Each ITA member adopting a key local route to ensure that investment delivers the improvements bus passengers want

National Express chief executive Dean Finch and Centro chairman Cllr John McNicholas signed the agreement at the new Wolverhampton Bus Station.

Cllr McNicholas said: "I am truly delighted by the signing of Partnership Plus and excited by the huge range of benefits it is going to bring to the passengers of the West Midlands.

"Working in partnership with National Express has resulted in a far-reaching level of commitments enhancing what is already a 21st century bus network."

Dean Finch, chief executive of National Express Group said: "Partnership Plus will build on the improvements we have already made in the West Midlands including investment in new vehicles and more on-bus cleaners as well as an expansion of smartcard ticketing."

"This partnership is great news for bus passengers in the West Midlands and I believe it will encourage more people to save money, time and stress by leaving the car at home and using the bus."

Published 5th July 2013