Buses in the West Midlands running far smoother post-lockdown


The latest data from National Express West Midlands (NXWM) shows that bus journeys across the region are taking half as much time as they did before the lockdown.

NXWM says in the morning peak, less than 2% of buses are late in current conditions. Pre-pandemic, traffic and delays meant that passengers could be up to 15 minutes late arriving at work or getting back home.

The bus operator says that the reduced travel times mean that key workers from across the region who use the bus to get to work can spend more time at home with their families rather than commuting.

But it warns that Department for Transport statistics from August 24 show that car use is already back up to 94% of pre-lockdown levels.

It has led the operator to highlight some of the journey time improvements that its passengers are experiencing.

For example, a nurse living in Northfield who travels by bus to Priory Queensway in Birmingham city centre to work at the Children’s Hospital would have spent an average of 51 minutes on the bus in heavy traffic pre-lockdown.
That journey during lockdown is 23 minutes quicker – that’s 45% – and takes just 28 minutes.

In another case a carer who gets the bus from West Bromwich to a care home in Erdington (route 74 and X3) used to see their commute take 1 hour and 19 minutes. Now, they can get there in 51 minutes.

Meanwhile, the region’s air has also been much cleaner than before the lockdown. April saw levels of poisonous nitrogen oxides in Birmingham fall by over a third.

But they are creeping up again as more people get back in their cars – and the effects of pollution fall harder on people on lower incomes.

“Our key workers have got us through this crisis,” said Tom Stables, managing director of National Express UK. “One of the few silver linings to come out of this horrible pandemic is that we’ve been able to give nurses and binmen back their own precious time.

“As we come out of lockdown, we need to keep the region’s buses running smoothly by protecting them from traffic congestion. If we don’t, our NHS heroes will again be spending more and more of their free time on buses stuck in traffic, when they should be at home with their loved ones.”

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