‘Last bus promise’ made in West Midlands charter
A ‘last bus promise’ has been made for the first time in the West Midlands Bus Passenger Charter.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and bus operators have made a commitment to deliver a minimum standard of service under the Charter. It includes a ‘last bus promise’ under which passengers whose final bus of the day is cancelled or leaves earlier than usual can claim compensation for their alternative journey (such as a cab fare) home. This is intended to ensure no one is stranded at a bus stop late at night due to the last bus not showing up and builds on work by TfWM to improve safety for vulnerable people through the Strategy for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls when designing and developing transport infrastructure and services.
The new charter has been drawn up and agreed by the West Midlands Bus Alliance, a partnership which includes TfWM, bus operators and industry watchdog Transport Focus. It was developed as part of the Enhanced Partnership for running bus services across the region and includes a range of commitments from access and support for disabled and elderly passengers to the condition of vehicles, bus stations and stops.
It also includes a commitment to keep passengers informed of changes to services, such as through social media and travel apps as well as notices at bus shelters and stations, and a pledge to make it as easy as possible for people to plan their journeys and buy tickets – whether using contactless card, Swift travel card or cash.
Addressing crime and anti-social behaviour, the charter sets out the responsibilities of the region’s Safer Travel Team. This includes the high-visibility role of transport safety officers patrolling the network, the use of more than 2,500 CCTV cameras to highlight issues and identify problems, and clear advice for the public on how to report vandalism or anti-social behaviour.
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), also sets out the commitment to invest, through the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), in making journeys more reliable, quicker and greener. Measures include the development of the cross-city rapid bus network and growing the fleet of zero-emission buses.
The Bus Passenger Charter is the latest in a line of measures to make buses a more affordable, reliable and greener alternative to private cars. These measures include:
- The try-before-you-buy incentive scheme for employers and organisations to encourage staff to switch from cars to buses for the commute.
- Simplified nbus fare system meaning customers can catch any bus from any bus operator with their day, week or month tickets.
- Recruitment of more transport safety officers to tackle anti-social behaviour
- Expansion of subsidies to keep at risk and socially necessary services running
- Continued investment in bus priority measures such as bus lanes to improve reliability
- Investment in new zero-emission buses including through the Coventry All Electric Bus City programme