National Express Group has announced that the UK’s first Bus Alliance, in the West Midlands, has been launched, with the first delivery board meeting taking place.
The Alliance, which National Express actively helped develop, building on its existing award-winning partnership, will run for five years until 2020. As part of the Alliance, £150m will be invested in new vehicles, technology and road improvements.
It was launched by the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA), made up of the seven leaders of the region’s metropolitan councils; Centro, the region’s transport delivery body; and National Express West Midlands, along with other local bus operators.
The Alliance has set out a number of targets:
- 5% increase in bus patronage;
- Improving bus journey times during rush hour;
- Reducing particulate and NOx emissions by 50%;
- Increased investment in highways infrastructure;
- Improved on-board services including more next stop announcements and WiFi;
- The ability to pay with phones and smartwatches; and
- Fare increases limited to RPI+1.
A joint Delivery Board has been formed with members of the ITA, Centro, local highways officials, National Express West Midlands and other local bus operators, which will aim to ensure the Alliance delivers on its targets. It met for the first time last Friday, November 27.
Dean Finch, National Express Group Chief Executive, said: “This Alliance is a first for the UK. We believe a partnership approach is key in driving excellent customer service standards and passenger growth.
“This agreement will quickly deliver further benefits to West Midlands bus passengers today. Securing this five year Alliance is a positive and significant development for our UK Bus business.”
Councillor Roger Lawrence, Chairman of the ITA, said: “The Bus Alliance is a national first which will deliver massive benefits for passengers over the next five years. Together we will drive up standards and continue to develop the network through the joint investment of £150m.
“It will further strengthen the relationship between our West Midlands local authorities, the transport delivery body and all bus operators, large and small.”