Shoppers, sports fans and party-goers across the West Midlands can take advantage of the biggest Boxing Day bus service outside of London this year.
A total of 158 services will be running on December 26 thanks to a financial subsidy from Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The region’s largest bus operator National Express West Midlands will be running a near-Sunday daytime schedule and Diamond Bus will be laying on 14 key services.
People’s public transport options will be boosted further by the Midland Metro tram system, which will run an enhanced Sunday service on Boxing Day.
Full details of the bus and tram services have been revealed following the publication of the public transport timetables for the festive period, including amended rail schedules due to engineering work. The timetables can be viewed at www.networkwestmidlands.com/campaigns/christmas-2017/
Cllr Roger Lawrence, the WMCA’s lead member for transport, said: “Before 2002 there were no Boxing Day bus services until we began subsidising them and since then passenger numbers have rocketed.
“That demand means we now have a very comprehensive service so people heading to the Boxing Day sales and other attractions have a real alternative to the car.
“I would also encourage those shopping for presents or going to parties and other events in the run up to Christmas to leave the car at home and get the bus, train or tram. That way they can avoid the hassle of finding somewhere to park and enjoy a festive tipple.”
With no trains running on Boxing Day, the extensive bus and tram timetable will help shop workers get to and from work and thousands of football fans going to the West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City and Walsall home matches.
Passengers are being warned however of changes to rail services over the festive period due to Network Rail carrying out engineering works. This will mean a reduced service between Christmas Eve and Tuesday January 2 on most lines running through Birmingham New Street.
In particular, on Christmas Eve buses will replace West Midlands Railway trains between Birmingham New Street and Rugeley Trent Valley. Services on the line will run to an amended timetable between December 27 and January 2.
Buses will also replace trains that call at local stations on the Birmingham to Wolverhampton line between December 27 and January 2.
On January 2, when many people will be returning to work, engineering will still be taking place on some rail routes and passengers are advised to check services before they travel at www.nationalrail.co.uk
A normal rail service is scheduled to resume on January 3.
The bus and tram schedules are:
Bus: Normal Sunday service by all operators but with last buses at around 11pm from city and town centres. Some operators will finish services slightly earlier than usual.
Midland Metro: Normal service.
No bus, rail or tram services.
Bus: National Express will operate a Sunday service between 8am and 6pm with higher frequency routes operating to their usual finish time. However there will be seven services that usually run on a Sunday but will not be operating on Boxing Day. Details of these are listed at www.networkwestmidlands.com/campaigns/christmas-2017/
Diamond Buses will be running 14 services. All other companies will not be operating.
Midland Metro: Enhanced Sunday service with a 10 minute frequency between 8am and 6pm and then every 15 minutes until 11pm.
Wednesday December 27 to Saturday December 30:
Bus: National Express will operate a Saturday service with some extra morning journeys. Night buses will also operate. Most other operators will run a Saturday service although some services will operate a Monday to Friday timetable.
Midland Metro: Normal service.
New Year’s Eve, Sunday December 31:
Bus: Operators will run a Sunday timetable but some Arriva and Stagecoach services will finish earlier than normal.
Midland Metro: Normal Service.
New Year’s Day, Monday January 1:
Bus: Most operators will run a Sunday timetable but some National Express services will finish at 6pm. National Express Coventry will only be operating on key routes, running to a reduced frequency between 9am and 6pm.
Arriva and Stagecoach will not operate any services on New Year’s Day.
Midland Metro: An enhanced Sunday service will operate a 10 minute service 8am to 6pm and then a 15 minute service to 11pm.
For full details of all services over the festive period go to www.networkwestmidlands.com/campaigns/christmas-2017/