Is transport too expensive in Brum?

This is a short post but i think it is important to talk about one of the major issues which is coming up time and time again through our engagement activity – the cost of transport – in particular for young people.  So we really wanted to ask the question – is transport proving to be a major barrier for people in the city? and if so…what can we do about it?!

In November the UK Young Parliament urged ministers to cut the cost of public transport and make it more accessible, and backed a motion urging the government to make it “cheaper, better and accessible to all”.  They believed that high transport costs were a major barrier and prevented young people accessing jobs and education and therefore had a significant impact on levels on youth unemployment.

This view has been reinforced through our various meetings with young people and youth organisations over the past few weeks.

But its not just the cost of getting to work.  Transport is key to connecting different communities and areas across the city.  With much money over the years spent on regenerating the city centre, many families on low incomes from the outer areas of the city feel they cannot share in the benefit that the city centre can offer.  This has lead to feelings of isolation in many communities, with some people feeling that their area has been “left behind”. For example the cost to bring a family from Kings Norton into the city centre is now£8.50 – many feel this is too expensive.

At the National Youth Reference Group conference in Birmingham last week, delegates from London highlighted the success of Transport for London’s policy of free bus travel between the ages of 11 and 15….is this something we could replicate in Birmingham?

What are your thoughts?  How can we address this? We want to hear off you so please let us know!

Leave a comment


  1. Simon

     /  23rd May 2012

    I’m not sure why it costs £8.50 single to get your family from Kings Norton to the city centre, a family daysaver is £8. Now, I don’t think it is cost is the problem, but the fact tickets are only valid on Network West Midland buses. A lot of my buses are now a mix of NXWM, Diamond and Stagecoach and you cannot use different operator tickets. Centro need to force operators to use one ticket. Trains are cheaper for shorter distances, but getting from Wolverhampton to Birmingham is £9.50 and can only be used in off-peak hours (including afternoon peak hours).

    What the region lacks is any form of decent rapid transport systems. If you live in Dudley, a town with a population of over 300,000, it takes one and a half hours to reach Birmingham, that’s a 3 hour round trip. Dudley has no rail or tram system. We have one tram line from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, a very poor tram line when compared to other cities. The extension to Dudley is a pie in the sky and wont happen this side of the decade.

    More and more jobs are moving to Birmingham city centre, which is going to be boosted by it being a LEP zone. We need to get people moving which will create jobs and improve our local economy. We need to get transported sorted now before it is too late.

  2. Thanks Simon, and thanks for clarifying the cost issue

    A lot of people have mentioned the different buses issue, the need to speed up the introduction of Oyster style card has been something that people have raised

    These comments are not personal ones but ones that we have picked up through our engagement activity,

  3. Of course it is, it has been for ages with little flexibility and lots of profit seeking (for example slow Oyster style card roll out but no change given)
    Then when they introduce a certain distance for a lower fee it just touches an area that is popular even if it is 5 minutes out of the city, the residents have to walk out of their neighbourhood to pay less or pay the extra fee, which at £1.90 might as well be £2.

    With a UK manufacturing base that is in demise how do we not have more sustainable methods of delivering public transport thus saving the end user money.
    Especially as the tax payer bails out so much of the nations transport and manufacturing costs!

    • ARW Thanks for the comment….

      Do you think subsidising young people travel as they do in London would be a good thing?

      • Simon

         /  23rd May 2012

        It is subsidised. Most local authorities in the region pay 100% for child travel to use public transport and it is not means tested. I travelled from Dudley to Compton (north of Wolverhampton) and had a free bus pass as a child (10 years ago) and is still the case.

  4. Asking whether is transport too expensive is a bit like asking whether the sofa is too large for the front room – it depends on how big your front room is and what else has got to go in it. If, by transport, you mean ‘buses’, then the comparative answer is probably ‘no’. A flat fare ticket in Birmingham costs £1.90 as against £2 in Liverpool and Manchester and either £2 or £2.80 in Leeds. A daysaver for the West Mids costs £3.80 as opposed to £4.60 for a North West regional day ticket or the West Yorkshire equivalent. Transport in Birmingham is, by this measure, between 5% and 33% cheaper than in comparable cities.

  5. Thanks Paul. yes you are right the question was deliberately vague!
    I suppose the real question is has price increases reached a point now where they are actively becoming a barrier for for building and more inclusive city – stopping people being connected and pricing people out of accessing employment and training opportunities – that’s what people have been telling us is the case – just wanted to see what other people felt!

    Perhaps is transport affordable in Birmingham would have been better!

    • Thanks – 3 general things that occur to me:
      1) that ‘transport’ doesn’t just mean cars, buses and trains. The issue for cyclists might be safety rather than cost.
      2) that the price of bus travel does seem to go up well above the rate of inflation. Partly that’s because the effect of TWM travel cards is anti-competitive. If you buy one, you are committed to using their buses. So, perhaps we ought to have an Oyster card you can use on all services. I think we’d see cheaper services being able to compete as a result. (I see Simon and ARW make related points).
      3) that the position in Birmingham isn’t much different to that in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester – as suggested by the figures I quoted.

      On the specific proposal about under 18s getting free travel, I’d want to see the cost involved. Wouldn’t over 18s (including a lot of younger workers) just end up paying even more to travel on buses that would be even more crowded?

  1. Is transport too expensive in Brum? | Fair Brum | Transport Tipps

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