Bus Services motion

Birmingham City Council, 13 June 2023

Council notes that

  • The current bus network does not serve the residents of Birmingham as well as it could. The general population feel discouraged from switching because journey times can be long, buses are seen to be unreliable, some services are infrequent, and facilities to shelter in whilst waiting are inadequate in poor weather.
  • There is inconsistency across the city in the efficacy of the network. Some areas are well served; others have unreasonable commute times using public transport – two or three times as long as by car.
  • People will only switch to buses when the service meets their needs, so supply needs to precede demand.
  • Getting people onto public transport and out of cars vital for reducing congestion, and this is a key pledge for the Council’s “route to zero” commitment which aims for carbon neutrality by 2030, and the WMCA ambition of carbon neutral travel by 2041. The green paper stated that 92% of respondents were concerned about climate change.
  • Leaving the car at home and using a bus encourages leaving the car at home and walking or cycling, although it was noted in the feedback that dangerous and busy roads deter people from switching.
  • Buses are a critical component of Birmingham’s public transport network. Bus routes, frequency and reliability are key to establishing a policy for a region, and having a holistic view is imperative to creating a functioning service. This is particularly important for groups with additional needs e.g. families with children, wheelchair users, commuters, people with certain health conditions etc.
  • Since the pandemic, services have been cut, and reliability has been patchy.
  • Bus scheduling shouldn’t be devolved to private companies but should be run for the public good.
  • Local government is best placed to decide routes, timetables and fares to encourage people out of cars.
  • The Government’s requirements are for half of all journeys in towns and cities to be carried out by walking, cycling and public transport by 2030. This means a ‘London-style’ transport system in cities across the country to make public transport accessible and the natural choice.
  • The WMCA is best placed to ensure that the transport network enables people to make better journeys, but they lack the powers needed to have oversight of the system, spending funds on projects instead of improving regularity and reliability. Council calls on the WMCA and Westminster to end deregulation of Birmingham’s bus network and dramatically improve bus travel, so that we have a first-class transport system by 2030, coinciding with HS2 completion.

Council calls for:

  • improvements to bus services to begin with immediate effect, so that improvements can be seen year on year.