Well it had to happen at some point, from next month there are changes to fare and ticket prices in the West Midlands.
I had heard a couple of rumours in the last few weeks, but didn’t want to post anything without any facts.
This evening I had a notice from NX Bus to advise me my monthly direct debit would be increasing from next month, and then I saw the following on the NX Bus website:
From 3rd July 2023 our tickets and fares will be changing. Most fares have been frozen since 2017, the day ticket remains cheaper than in 2017 and some are even the same price as they were nearly 10 years ago. The reality is that some price rises are now needed to protect the bus network in the face of rising costs. Costs including fuel, electricity, parts and labour have increased by 25% in the past three years while the number of people using buses remains around 90% of what it was before the pandemic.https://nxbus.co.uk/west-midlands/news/fare-and-ticket-changes-from-3rd-july-2023
- A single ticket will increase from £2.40 to £2.70
- An all day ticket is going up 50p from £4 to £4.50; still the cheapest day bus ticket of any city region in England
- A week pass will be £17, up £2 from £15 currently. Paying by Direct Debit is still the best value way to travel at £55 a month
- National Express West Midlands is reviewing whether it will participate in the Government’s forthcoming £2 fare cap scheme
Details of changes to the most popular tickets are as follows:
|Ticket||Current price||Price from 3rd July|
|Adult short hop single||£1.50||£1.50|
|Adult single||£2.40 (£2 capped)||£2.70 (£2 capped)|
|Adult day ticket||£4||£4.50|
|Adult low fare zone day ticket (now only available on SwiftGo)||£3||£4 (only available with SwiftGo)|
|Adult 1 week||£15||£17|
|Child day ticket||£2||£2.30|
|Child low fare zone day ticket (No longer available)||£1.50||£2.30 (All West Midlands)|
|Child 1 week||£7.50||£8.50|
|Concession single pre-9.30am||£1||£1.50|
|Group day ticket||£7||£8|
Why are you increasing your fares?
We are on our customers’ side. Our goal is to deliver a reliable bus service that provides great value. We have worked hard for years to keep fares low, with most frozen since 2017. The reality is that the price rises are needed to protect the bus network in the face of rising costs. Costs including fuel, electricity, parts and labour have increased by 25% in the past 3 years while the number of people using buses remains around 90% of what it was before the pandemic.
A day ticket at £4.50 is still the best value of any city region in England – compared to £5 for a day ticket in Manchester and £5.20 in Nottingham.
Is this National Express West Midlands being greedy?
No, we provide an extensive bus network across the region that we are very proud of and this is about protecting those services for our customers. Costs have increased across the board, while the number of people using buses is still lower than it was. If we hadn’t increased fares the only other option would be to reduce the network and that would mean letting customers down. We want more people to use buses and to be part of the solution for improving air quality and tackling climate change by reducing the number of private cars on the road. We can only do that by making sure buses are there for people to use.
Why is the single not staying £2?
The current scheme ends on 30th June. The Government has announced they are extending the £2 fare scheme until 31 October 2023. We are reviewing whether we continue to participate in the Government’s forthcoming new £2 fare cap scheme after 1st July.
Is this just happening in the West Midlands?
No. Bus operators and many other industries nationwide are also experiencing costs going up and having to look at how they can balance the books and maintain their networks. The West Midlands is great bussing territory because it has high population density and a proud heritage of bus usage which is why we haven’t had to increase fares until now. While the fares are increasing they will continue to be the cheapest of all city regions in England.
Can I still pay £1 before 9.30am with my free concessionary pass?https://nxbus.co.uk/west-midlands/news/fare-and-ticket-changes-from-3rd-july-2023
The pre-9.30am ticket will still be available for free concessionary pass holders but will now cost £1.50.
Diamond will also be making changes to their fares & tickets from the same date for much the same reasons.
Our Sandwell & Dudley Low Fare Zone and Diamond Value Zone products will no longer be available to purchase either on-bus or from the Diamond Bus App.
There will also be changes to the West Midlands Zone products, where fare changes will occur, but a more flexible ticket range will be implemented.
Existing Diamond Bus tickets will remain valid as per their current terms and conditions until their expiry date. Any changes implemented will affect tickets purchased from 3rd July only.
More information will be available early next week, so please check our website and social media channels for further updates.https://www.diamondbuses.com/news/wm-ticket-changes/
Why is this happening?
From what I have been told privately, this is all part of TfWM’s previously promised “bonfire of tickets”, which would see operator-only tickets phased out and replaced with the multi-operator nBus tickets instead. The advantage to bus users is that it makes it easier, or encourages them, to use services provided by other operators.
This should mean now – though it’s not been made very clear in the NX Bus announcement – that when you buy a day ticket, it will be valid on all operator’s services, not just NX Buses’.
The price increase will take effect automatically on or after 3rd July, in line with your renewal date. At this point, you will have much more flexibility to travel on any bus, regardless of bus operator.
From what Diamond have posted on their website, there are likely to be further details available from next week, I guess a few arrangements still need to be finalised with TfWM.