The new West Midlands Transport brand has already been brought to life on trains and trams in the region – now the first branded buses are in operation too.
Vehicles on the 42/43/43A service between West Bromwich, Dudley and Bilston now feature the distinctive red branding, along with buses on the new 31/32 service between Walsall, Bloxwich, Mossley and Lower Farm with the new branding designed to help create a clear identity for the region. Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said:
"Public transport in the region previously came in a variety of colours, with different logos and companies and very little, visually, to tie trams, trains and buses together.
"Now, we have a clear, distinctive brand which will not only make things look better for commuters and passengers, but will make a much bigger impression on visitors to the region."
The new branding provides distinctive livery for public transport in the region – orange for trains, blue for trams, red for buses and green for bikes. These new bus services are also something of a first with National Express West Midlands and Diamond bus sharing the routes.
The operators previously competed for passengers on these routes – which meant travellers needed the right ticket for the right bus. Now, passengers can simply hop on the first bus that comes along.
The agreement is the result of work by Transport for West Midlands through the West Midlands Bus Alliance. The Alliance brings together TfWM, bus operators including National Express West Midlands and Diamond Bus, local councils, West Midlands Police and passenger organisations to help improve bus services. Simon Dunn, CEO of Rotala, which owns Diamond Bus, said:
"We are pleased to be entering into the shared service on these routes. We hope they will be the first of many. Passengers will benefit from being able to catch any bus with much greater interchangeability of tickets. The buses will also run on an even timetable with no gaps, again to the benefit of passengers.
"Overall the routes will be more efficiently served with lower emissions as a consequence. We think these points make the shared service model a sensible development for customers and operators alike."
For the new 42/43/43A service between West Bromwich, Bilston and Dudley, buses will run up to every seven minutes between West Bromwich and Tipton (St Marks Road) on Monday to Saturday daytimes. Diamond will also extend their service to run seven days a week, including late evening services.
Buses to Bilston will be numbered 43, travelling via Dudley Street and the Black Country route, with the new 43A service running via Loxdale Street and Oxford Street. The old 301/302 route between Mossley and Walsall is now the 31/32 service, with buses running every five minutes. Tom Stables, managing director of National Express West Midlands, added:
"As part of the West Midlands Bus Alliance, we are committed to exploring ways we can work together to further improve public transport in the region. The new joint timetables we’re operating make it easier for passengers, with an improved frequency of service and some tickets that can be used on any bus along these routes."