Nearly nine in 10 bus passengers in the West Midlands are happy with their service and record numbers think it is good value for money, an independent survey has found.
Figures released by Transport Focus show 88% of the region's bus passengers are satisfied with their overall journey.
A record 67% of passengers – up 7% on the previous year – also felt the cost of the travel was good value. This was especially true for young people - their satisfaction with value for money was up 9% on last year.
Results from the independent survey, carried out in spring 2018, have been welcomed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the region’s biggest operator, National Express West Midlands.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA portfolio holder for transport, said the figures were a reflection of the improvements made in recent years as part of the ground-breaking West Midlands Bus Alliance.
The partnership, the first of its kind in the UK, brings together bus operators, local councils, and other partners to work together to deliver high levels of passenger satisfaction and drive forward investment in bus services.
Cllr Lawrence said: “The Bus Alliance set a challenging satisfaction target of 85% so it’s encouraging to see that our work is paying off and we have beaten that figure.
“Good quality bus services will help attract more people on to public transport and that’s vital if we are to manage the road congestion that’s already harming our regional economy and people’s health.
“More passengers means a stronger economy and cleaner air and while these results show we are moving in the right direction we will continue to work hard to make services even better.”
The survey found that 86% said they were happy with how long their journey took - 2% more than a year ago - and 76% were satisfied with how punctual their service was - up 4% from last year.
Linda McCord of Transport Focus, Chair of the West Midlands Bus Alliance, said:
“We know punctual and reliable services drive passenger satisfaction and that the top priority for improvement among bus passengers is getting value for money. It’s really encouraging to see satisfaction on the up across all these key areas. We will continue to work together through the alliance to improve bus services even more for passengers.”
Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, said:
“We know customers in the West Midlands want value for money when they travel. So in the last year or so, we’ve introduced low-fare zones in various areas across the region.
“In spring this year, we also introduced contactless payment on all our 1,600 buses across the West Midlands. This means bus passengers just tap a bank card on the reader and it will work out the fare for them. You will never be charged more than an adult day ticket. It really is that easy - and it’s always the same price as the adult cash fares.”
The survey found that 79% of people say they feel secure catching the bus
Inspector Rachel Crump of the Safer Travel Partnership, which operates specifically to tackle and deter crime on the region’s transport network, said:
“Bus travel in the West Midlands is very safe. My officers work really hard to crack down on the kinds of anti-social behaviour that can make people feel uncomfortable travelling on the bus.
“The more information we can gather, the easier it is for my teams to target specific routes or areas. Our See Something, Say Something scheme means passengers can report nuisance behaviour to the Safer Travel Partnership. Just text "Bus" followed by a space to 83010, with a message giving as much information as possible about the nature of the incident. Anyone witnessing criminal behaviour should ring 999 as they would do normally.”
Some 92% of free-pass holders, the majority of whom are senior citizens, were happy with how easy it is to get on and off the buses.
Happy passengers are also voting with bums on seats - National Express West Midlands has seen like-for-like growth in fare-paying passengers of almost 1%, meaning over a million more people travelled than during the same period last year.
In the first half of 2018, the number of children, students and apprentices travelling by bus has grown 11% - that’s over 800 thousand more young people travelling than the same period last year.