Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Transport Secretary Praises Cut in Prices on Contactless Payments on Visit to Black Country

National Express West Midlands has made the move to roll back the price of its daily and weekly fares for when restrictions ease on June 21.

A new weekly contactless ticket price cap will be introduced across the network in June to help simplify the process of paying for a ticket.

During a visit to the West Midlands by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, he described it as "brilliant news"

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on National Express West Midlands
bus at their garage on the Pensnett Trading Estate

"Contactless is per-day capped and brilliantly it's going to cap it off on a week fare as well, so you won't be able to pay more than £15 a week"

"I've got no doubt at all if you come back in a year's time we'll find there will be people travelling who perhaps haven't done before. I've been inside the buses and they're lovely – you would want to be in there, there's Wi-Fi and they're beautiful machines and clean."

The contactless weekly ticket price capping means people will be able to travel as much as they like – with people showing their contactless bank card, or the banking app on their phone, to the bus ticket machine each time they get on.

At the end of seven days, they will be charged no more than the cost of a weekly ticket – however many journeys they made.

Mr Shapps added an additional benefit of the fares dropping is that more people would be inclined to use buses – which, in turn, would lead to emissions being cut across the West Midlands.

He added: "It's terrifically important. We've always looked at "how do you make transport more convenient for people?' – if they can jump on public transport they don't need to take their cars, they don't want to take their cars because actually, you don't have the hassle and it's cheaper."

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: "Before the pandemic more people were using public transport across the West Midlands in all of its forms – eight million more bus journeys in the year before, and think how many emissions have been saved there with those journeys.

"Rail usage and metro usage is well up, so we've got this circle – usage is up, so people will invest in it, the service improves and now we're seeing the last bit of the circle – the price coming down. It really is working.

"Buses remain the backbone of our public transport – we get excited about new railway lines, and of course we've just had the money from the Department for Transport for the opening of the Walsall to Wolverhampton line, but buses are still the most popular form of public transport and that's why we've got to do these things: make it more affordable, cleaner and of course, make it more reliable."

The bus company is cutting the price of the peak day ticket from £4.60 to £4 on June 21 – when restrictions are expected to ease – and the price of a weekly ticket will drop from £17.50 to £15.

It is expected the average commuter will save over £130 a year on bus travel as a result of the fares being cut, with the cost of a child ticket becoming £2 a day – down from £2.50.

Tom Stables, managing director for National Express UK, said: "We think it's crucial to attracting people back after the pandemic, it's clearly been a tough year but we've had good patronage despite that.

"But we want to see people back and we believe good value, getting the prices right, encourages people to come out of their cars and back onto the buses. We have a lovely bus fleet too.

"I think it's not only about the lower price but also about the capping as well – we're putting on a weekly cap product at £15, which is a reduction from £17.50, and that makes it easier. One of the barriers to public transport sometimes is that you don't know what it's going to cost you, you don't know what you're going to get charged.

"[With this] you can use your card, it's £15 and it's totally transparent. The price is lower and the product is good."