Numbers using the bus in West Midlands hits 30-year low

The number of passengers travelling by bus is at a 30-year low, new figures have shown.

Numbers using the bus in West Midlands hits 30-year low

Despite an increase in London, the number travelling by bus in the West Midlands has plummeted even since the worst part of the recession in 2009.

And now it is at its lowest since bus services were privatised.

Official figures show 275.7 million journeys were made by bus in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley, Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull in 2014/15.

But this was at a time when the economy was growing again.

In 2009, the worst point of the recession, 313.8m journeys were made.

The figures show a steady decline each year apart from a slight upturn in 2013/14.

Staffordshire bus use is also down on six years ago, but has shown a year on year increase since 2012.

There were 22 million bus journeys in 2009/10, down to 20m in 2012/13 and now up to 20.9m.

And there has been a drop in the number of journeys taken by elderly and disabled people on buses, despite free travel passes.

In the West Midlands numbers dropped from 74.4m journeys in 2009/10 to 63.3m in 2014/15.

In Staffordshire it is down from 8.9m in 2011/12 to 8.2m in the past year.

Across the country, since bus services were privatised in the 1980s, numbers have fallen by 52 per cent in metropolitan areas.

In London, however, they have more than doubled in that time.

Campaigners blamed cuts in funding for bus services for the drop.

Fares have also risen steadily almost every year.

National Express West Midlands, the largest bus operator in the region, hikes its fares by 10p almost every January.

The company, which also operates the Midland Metro, has promised to cap tram fare rises to no more than one per cent above the retail price index of inflation.

Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "Since 2010, government has made swingeing year on year cut in support for buses.

"These statistics show the impact of those cuts with bus services disappearing, isolating whole communities and leaving ever more people unable to get to education, jobs and other basic services."

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