Train, tram and bus services are safe, ready and waiting to welcome more passengers back on board following the relaxation of Covid 19 lockdown measures.
That is the focus of a new campaign ‘ready when you’re ready’ launched this week to show that the extensive public transport network is available to be used to safely travel about the West Midlands whether for work or a pleasant day out.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has teamed up with operators including West Midlands Railway and National Express West Midlands to highlight how the network remains fully operational and reassure travellers that their safety remains a priority.
It is linked to the wider Open for Business, Safely campaign which was launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), of which TfWM is part, last month to support our local businesses and high streets.
Also known as #WMOpen4Biz, the campaign promotes the steps shops, cafes, gyms, beauty salons, transport providers, tourist attractions and others have put in place to make their premises safe to welcome back customers.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who uses the region’s public transport network for the majority of his journeys, said: “Our public transport network is ready and waiting to welcome people back. Whether it’s a daily journey to work or a trip for leisure, our buses, trams, and trains are safe, clean and reliable.
“Leaving the car at home in favour of public transport is better for the environment and better for people’s physical, and before Covid struck we had increased patronage on all our main modes of public transport. We’re also continuing to invest heavily in our transport network, with more than £1 billion of upgrades and improvements already planned or underway.”
The public transport network has been operating throughout the pandemic – to ensure our essential workers, such as those on the NHS and social care frontline or those keeping grocery shops and other essential businesses open could still get to and from work.
With people now taking trains, buses and trams to their office, place of work, favourite restaurant or for a shopping trip – passengers are being reminded to give people space where possible and, unless exempt, wear a mask.
Those no longer looking to commute five days a week can also take advantage of a range of flexible tickets offering the great value of season tickets, but with the option to travel when it suits.
By investing more than £1 billion on expanding the rail, bus and tram networks, TfWM and its partners aim to offer people convenient alternatives to the private car, helping to support the region’s #WM2041 climate change targets.
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio lead for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council said: “As the region opens up after the pandemic and people start going back to workplaces, visiting friends and family or enjoying days and nights out we want them to be reassured that the public transport system is available and safe to use.
“It is also better for our climate, air quality and beats being stuck in traffic jams.
“We have also worked with operators to offer better value and convenience for passengers with mobile apps giving live travel information, contactless payments and a wider range of tickets options – especially for those with flexible work patterns – for taking our buses, trains and trams.”
Bus company National Express West Midlands (NXWM) is highlighting the steps being taken to ensure the safety of passengers as well a pick out less busy times to travel.
NXWM’s commercial director Chris Gibbens said: “National Express is ready when our customers want to join us back on the bus - or if people’s circumstances have changed and they’re trying out the bus for the first time.
“We’re still carrying out our enhanced cleaning regime focusing on touchpoints. Cleaners will be jumping on board at town centres and bus stations to give buses an extra wipe down mid-service. And our cleaners ‘fog’ every bus every night with aerosol disinfection that contains a high-performance antiviral solution.
“The science tells us that fresh air is very important in our fight against viruses. National Express West Midlands buses stop and open their doors every 2 minutes on average. And our engineers have done extensive testing of how air moves through buses when they’re going along. So we’re asking customers to keep open the windows that have labels on - to keep that fresh air flowing through the bus.
"And for people who can choose when they travel, we've made a handy little online tool to show the times of day when buses are at their quietest."
For travel times, tickets and information visit the West Midlands Network website.