Bus fares in the West Midlands look set to rise again in January after the region’s biggest operator was hit with a £5 million cut in funding.
But National Express West Midlands is drawing up plans for its own “smartcard” that could offer discounts for casual users.
Managing director Peter Coates told the Express & Star that fares were under review but said the company had not “jerked up” prices following a £5m cut in its operating grant in April – the equivalent of a 10p a litre increase in its fuel costs.
And despite the cost pressures the company has recruited hundreds of new drivers. A single fare costs £1.90 and went up by 10p last January. Travelcards and passes bought in advance offer discounts.
Mr Coates said a smartcard, similar to one being developed by Transport authority Centro, could allow users to take advantage of bigger discounts by pre-paying.
The bus services operator grant was cut by 20 per cent in April.
Mr Coates said: “We behaved in a responsible way. In other parts of the country some operators jerked the fares up but we did not. We’re reviewing fares but we will keep any increase to a minimum.
“Our fuel costs are going steadily up and up. It’s the second biggest part of our budget after pay.”