In July 2023, changes were made to bus tickets in the West Midlands, which has made travelling much easier and less confusing for bus passengers.
Operator-only day tickets and season passes were scrapped, with the multi-operator nBus and nNetwork offerings becoming the default standard.
Which meant that rather than being restricted to bus services provided by one operator, passengers can now use any bus service, regardless of who runs it.
Previous events and research revealed that customers found purchasing tickets confusing.
Seen as a barrier to understanding and accessing bus travel. It was important to simplify the range on offer.
This work aims to create a better experience for customers and improve the bus network.
Reducing the range of bus tickets allows customers to find and buy the right ticket for their travel.
Now, only nBus products will be available for customers to use for travel on any bus in the region. Creating a better experience for our customers.
Fewer ticket options will allow customers to have a simplified ticket-buying experience. No need to wait for a specific bus operator. Jump on your next available bus at any time.“Changes to Bus tickets from Monday 3 July 2023” – Transport for West Midlands
Within the West Midlands region, an adult day ticket now costs a standard £4.50 (£2.30 for children under 16) and it is valid on any bus operator’s service within the nBus network area, which covers the West Midlands county and some areas just outside as per the map below.
Of course, some people were inconvenienced by the withdrawal of cheaper area-specific tickets, but the reality was that they were no longer covering the costs of operating bus services, and there was also evidence that they were being abused by some unscrupulous people using them to travel outside the intended area.
Things are much more straight-forward now, “any bus, any day, any time”.
Now if you buy a day ticket on an NX West Midlands bus, you can also use it on buses run by Stagecoach, Diamond, Banga, Arriva, Landflight, Kevs, etc etc. Within the nBus area of course.
How to buy nBus day tickets
Day tickets can be purchased on-bus using cash, contactless cards/devices or Swift Pay-As-You-Go cards.
Tell the driver you’d like an nBus Day Ticket, before presenting any contactless card/device.
A paper ticket will be issued, which you should keep and then show to the driver on each subsequent bus you board.
Users of M-ticket apps can also buy an nBus day ticket, though you may have to show this to the driver rather than scanning it – for example if you buy an nBus day ticket using the NX M-ticket app, you can only scan the QR code on NX buses, if you get on a Stagecoach or Diamond bus, then just show the screen to the driver.
nBus Weekly and Monthly passes
For regular travellers, these can be purchased and loaded onto a Swift smartcard, then you just need to tap your card every time you board a bus.
Tap And Cap with contactless
Unfortunately for those who prefer to just ‘tap and cap’ with their contactless bank card or mobile on Diamond or NX West Midlands buses, there is still a barrier to be overcome in that the different ticketing systems these operators use don’t allow for the ‘cross-sharing’ of bank card data.
If you know you’re only going to use one operator’s services, then you’re fine really, just keep tapping your card or device to enjoy 1, 3 or 7 day fare capping.
Alternatively, if you think you might need to use another operator’s service that day, you can use your contactless card/device to buy an nBus ticket, and then you just present that paper ticket on any other bus you board.
For the ultimate in convenience, you can get yourself a Swift Go smartcard, link it to your bank account, and then you can use it on any bus operator’s service to “tap and cap” your fare at 1, 3 or 7 day rates.
You can also use a Swift Go card to pay for Midland Metro tram fares, as well as for parking at selected Park And Ride locations.
Travelling outside the West Midlands?
nBus and nNetwork tickets are only valid and issued within the area shown in the map presented earlier in this article. But some operators do operate bus services that extend beyond this area to places such as Lichfield, Coleshill, Cannock, Tamworth, Bromsgrove, Redditch, Stratford-upon-Avon, Nuneaton, Rugby, Warwick and Leamington Spa amongst others.
If your destination is outside the nBus zone, then you’ll need to either buy single tickets – which might work out better value if you are just travelling to somewhere and then returning back to the West Midlands later while single bus journeys are still capped at £2 – or you’ll have to buy that operator’s own area day ticket.
National Express West Midlands/Coventry Day Saver is £4.50 for adults (£2.30 for children under 16) and is valid on all bus services operated by NX, including those that go outside the nBus zone, as well as all other bus operators’ services within the nBus zone.
Diamond Bus have a ‘Network Zone A’ day ticket priced at £8.00 for adults (£6.00 for children under 16), which is valid on all Diamond services in the West Midlands, as well as in Shropshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
Stagecoach have a few DayRider ticket options depending on where you’re travelling from/to. If you’re just travelling between Coventry and Bedworth or Nuneaton, the Coventry & Bedworth DayRider is just £4.00. There are also DayRider options for Nuneaton Plus, and Leamington & Warwick Plus, for £10.10. Finally there is the Midlands Gold DayRider for £12.10, which offers all day travel on all Stagecoach Midlands services in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire and more.
If you’re travelling from Birmingham to Tamworth on Arriva’s 110 service, you’ll need a Tamworth Plus day ticket which costs £6.80 and allows all day travel on the 110 and all other Arriva services in the Tamworth area, which also includes Burntwood, Lichfield, Atherstone and Nuneaton.
If you’re having a day out in Shropshire starting on the Arriva 9 service from Wolverhampton, the Shropshire & Telford day ticket costs £7.50 and allows all day travel on all Arriva services in that area.
Travelling within the West Midlands
Of course it is worth pointing out that for those above services that extend out into other counties, nBus tickets are still valid for travel within the nBus area, so for example you can use your nBus ticket to travel from Birmingham city centre to Sutton Coldfield on the Arriva 110, or from Selly Oak to Longbridge on the NX 20.
And on routes that are served by multiple operators, such as the 16 and 50, you can now get on the first bus that turns up, no more waiting specifically for a Diamond or NX bus.
Maybe you’ll even be tempted to try and use services run by other operators that you wouldn’t previously have considered!
Fare/ticket prices shown are correct at time of writing