The bold new West Midlands Transport (WMT) brand has already been brought to life on trains and trams in the region – now the first branded buses are in operation too.
Buses 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.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said the new branding was designed to help create a clear identity for the region.
He 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 – West Midlands Transport – which will not only make things look better for commuters and passengers, but will make a much bigger impression on visitors to the region.
"We want to inspire a sense of pride and identity for people in our region and the transport links that connect their lives. Over time, we hope this brand becomes something which defines the West Midlands."
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: National Express West Midlands and Diamond bus are 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 (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), 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.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, portfolio holder for transport at WMCA and leader of the City of Wolverhamton Council, said: "This is the first shared service of its kind in the region, and the first buses featuring the new WMT branding.
"The benefits for passengers are clear - more frequent services, simpler ticketing arrangements and one unified service will make travelling on these routes much simpler
"We hope this will be the start of many similar partnerships forged through the West Midlands Bus Alliance which will boost our public transport services across the region."
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."
Tom Stables, managing director of National Express West Midlands, said: "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.
"Passengers benefit from an even more efficient, convenient service and can simply get on the first bus that comes along."
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.
The best value bus ticket for the 42/43/43A service will be the Diamond Value Day ticket, priced at £2.80 (£1.50 child), which can be purchased on both Diamond and National Express buses and will be valid on any 42/43/43A service.
For the 31/32 route, the best value ticket will be a Diamond & National Express Day Return, priced at £2.50.
For more information about changes to the 42/43/43A service, visit: https://www.networkwestmidlands.com/ways-to-travel/bus/changes-to-services-4243/
For more on the new 31/32 service, please see: https://www.networkwestmidlands.com/ways-to-travel/bus/changes-to-services-301-302/