Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) plans to provide thousands of individuals with try-before-you-buy bus tickets as part of a £19m government-backed initiative aimed at boosting bus passenger numbers and safeguarding services.
The incentive program will be extended to employers, encouraging staff who currently commute by car to sign up for a Swift travel card or account. This entitles them to a period of complimentary or discounted bus travel, akin to introductory offers provided by streaming TV services like Netflix.
The objective is to encourage a sustained shift to bus travel, ultimately preserving more bus services and reducing the number of private cars on the road. This, in turn, aims to alleviate traffic congestion and pollution throughout the West Midlands.
In addition to employer initiatives, the program will target specific groups, including care leavers and apprentices, providing them with access to public transport.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “Buses are the backbone of our public transport network providing vital services for hundreds of thousands of people every day.
“I’m pleased therefore that patronage on our buses is now above pre-pandemic levels, however, we still need to do so much more to get people onto public transport to tackle congestion and the climate emergency. That’s why we’ve launched this new scheme to entice more people onboard our buses, and I would urge anyone offered the chance – both lapsed and first-time bus customers – to take part and give the bus a go.
“This new scheme is of course just one part of a wide range of improvements we are bringing to our bus network with investment in cleaner zero-emission buses, bus priority measures on the new Sprint routes improving reliability, and some of the cheapest bus fares in the country.”
Cllr Mike Bird, the WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Walsall Council, said: “From electric buses in Coventry to the tram extension in the Black Country, we are putting unprecedented funding into our public transport to ensure more people have affordable public transport linking them to job and leisure opportunities across our region and beyond.
“Crucially, while bus services in many other parts of the country have been cut in recent years, we have protected them here in the West Midlands and are looking at new ways, including this incentive scheme, to build a sustainable future for our bus services.”