We are in the process of reviewing and modernising the West Midlands bus network in partnership with the region's operators.
This work is part of a new 'Bus Vision' for the region. A draft document of the vision was put out for consultation in 2008.
Customer views on bus travel show the most important areas for improvement are reliability, frequency, affordability, personal security, information, attractiveness and comfort - particularly while waiting.
Taking these ideas on board, Centro signed an innovative partnership initiative with National Express West Midlands, the largest private bus operator in the region, and is seeking similar arrangements with other bus companies. The six key partnership routes in Birmingham, Walsall and West Bromwich have now been launched and some routes feature leather seats on air conditioned, state-of-the-art buses.
On all routes, passengers are benefiting from faster, cleaner and more frequent services and, for the first time, are able to get refunds if high standards of punctuality are not met. Routes feature limited stop services with increased frequencies and new, high quality bus shelters at 149 stops along the routes serviced by a dedicated cleaning team.
Passengers will also benefit from an additional daytime litter removal service. Other upgrades include Real Time Information at many stops so passengers know exactly when the next bus will arrive. CCTV is also being installed at key bus shelter locations to improve security.
Dudley, South Solihull, North Walsall, West and South Birmingham, and East Birmingham and North Solihull now benefit from new, improved and easy to understand bus networks providing more frequent services to key destinations - taking people where they want, when they want.
Network reviews are carried out by Centro in partnership with bus operators and local authorities. They are the result of demands from passengers and businesses for a more modern and effective system.
Wolverhampton and West Walsall, and Coventry bus networks are being reviewed in 2011.