On the 11 January, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) will be considering a plan to use new powers for tackling anti-social behaviour.
If the plans are approved, this will mean that Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM) which is part of the WMCA, will invite views on a set of proposed byelaws which will apply to buses, bus stations, and bus shelters.
These byelaws would enable enforcement officers to have greater power to deal with antisocial acts which would include smoking and vaping, being intoxicated with alcohol or drugs and vandalising property.
If the byelaws go ahead, they will be the first of their kind in the UK and enforced by police officers from the Safer Travel Partnership team, who are in collaboration between West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and TfWM.
Whilst the byelaws will cover a range of different antisocial behaviours, it was shown in a 2011 study conducted by Transport Focus that it was in fact low level nuisance was perceived as affecting passenger personal safety the most.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “No one on our buses should have to put up with anti-social behaviour and I am determined to use every tool available, including these bus byelaws, to tackle the problem.
“Reported crime is relatively low, but the fear of anti-social behaviour still deters some people from using the bus.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “Our Congestion Management Plan for the region, which was launched last year, told us that perception of personal safety is a very real barrier to public transport use.
“Although crime on buses has dramatically reduced by 70% since 2006, thanks to our Safer Travel Partnership, anti-social behaviour is still preventing people from taking the bus; in fact 11.5% additional public transport journeys would be made every year, if they felt safer.
“We have listened to passengers’ feedback on what would make them feel safer when using public transport and believe introducing bus byelaws to tackle anti-social behaviour is an important first step.”