More cash needed with 38 routes at risk in the West Midlands

Transport for West Midlands has agreed to increase funding to ensure that 78 bus service contracts will continue to operate in the conurbation.

Spending will increase by £0.8m to £16.3m annually, and it has amended its “value for money” criteria for subsidised services. However, the move still leaves 38 routes at risk, although in some cases only in the evenings or on Sundays.

The authority says the loss of five smaller operators since 2020 leaves “no doubt the industry is struggling”. Most recent departures are Discount Travel Solutions of Smethwick and Thandi, while the bus operations of Claribels and Johnsons were both taken over by Diamond earlier this year.

Discount competed with National Express West Midlands (NXWM) at low frequency on established corridors, usually using anonymous buses in their previous owners' liveries. Their last registered route competed with the Outer Circle in Birmingham, and ceased around the end of July.

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