National Express West Midlands
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Alexander Dennis Enviro400 with route 33 branding in April 2013
|Founded||26 October 1986|
|Service area||West Midlands|
|Service type||Bus services|
|Alliance||National Express Coventry|
|Chief executive||Tom Stables|
National Express West Midlands (NXWM) is a bus operator in the West Midlands that operates services in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. It is a subsidiary of National Express.
On 26 October 1986 as part of the deregulation of bus services, West Midlands Travel was formed. It was previously the bus operations of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, which ceased to be a bus operator, but successor organisation Transport for West Midlands retains a co-ordinating role, funding infrastructure like bus stations, providing information, paying for socially necessary services, and concessionary fares. West Midlands Travel remained in public ownership under the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority until December 1991, when it was sold in an Employee Share Ownership Plan to its management and employees.
In February 2008 as part of a rebranding of all National Express subsidiaries, it was renamed National Express West Midlands. The Coventry service was rebranded as National Express Coventry. The current red and white is the sixth livery to be used by the company. A seventh livery of crimson and maroon is being introduced from 2015 starting with Birmingham routes 9 and 50.
Previously garages in Stourbridge, Dudley, Merry Hill (part of Travel Merry Hill), Harts Hill, Sutton Coldfield, Hockley, Cotteridge, Selly Oak, Wolverhampton, Washwood Heath and Quinton have been operated. The Dudley garage closed on 28 August 1993 to make way for the Dudley Southern By-Pass (which opened in 1999) and was replaced, along with the former Travel Merry Hill depot, by a depot at Pensnett. In July 2010, Lea Hall depot closed.
National Express West Midlands aimed for the whole fleet to be low floor by March 2010. This was achieved in July 2010, with the withdrawal of the final MCW Metrobus in operation at Acocks Green garage.
Following this, a similar process took place in Solihull in January 2009, with one also taking place in October 2009 for South West Birmingham.
In October 2012 there was a network review in Sandwell, with the final review taking place in June 2013 for North Birmingham, although this was heavily criticized for the small number of routes that were actually changed and those that were being mostly in the Pheasey area.
At the end of 2017, a network review took place for South Birmingham. The public were asked for their opinions on the changes. As of February 2018, the answers received were currently being looked at by the company. As of 22nd July 2018 the network had been changed providing a much simpler network, more express buses and more direct links to the Queen Elizabeth hospital and The University of Birmingham..
Garages and travel shops
NXWM operate ten garages: Acocks Green, Bordesley Green, Birmingham Central (Digbeth), Perry Barr, Yardley Wood, Pensnett, Walsall, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton and Coventry, with the latter trading as National Express Coventry. The Bordesley Green garage is the newest location, having opened in 2005.
NXWM operate five travel shops located in Coventry Pool Meadow bus station, West Bromwich bus station, Dudley bus station, Birmingham Corporation Street and Walsall bus station. All offices sell all types of Travelcards, National Express coach tickets and assist customers with information and route planning. The travel shop at Wolverhampton bus station is unique in that it is the only travelshop within a bus station not operated by NXWM, instead being operated by PTE Centro.
Crime (such as robbery and assault) and vandalism are an ongoing problem on NXWM buses, with travel on the upstairs deck sometimes being particularly challenging. The installation of CCTV on buses was part of the failed attempt to stabilise the level of crime. In the 2009–10 accounting period, 3,341 incidents were recorded on West Midlands buses, including theft, property damage, and drug possession.
National Express West Midlands is part of the Safer Travel Partnership, created in 2005 its members also include Centro (responsible for bus, train and tram transport in the West Midlands) and West Midlands Police. The partnership is committed to reducing crime and anti-social behaviour across the West Midlands bus network whilst providing reassurance to the travelling public. The partnership achieves this through a variety of tactics including Gateway Operations. These operations are intelligence led and are based on the established link between those who evade paying their fare and those responsible for crime, disorder and anti social behaviour. The operation involves partners including NX Revenue Inspectors and Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers from the dedicated Safer Travel Police Team. The activities of the partnership have resulted in very significant reductions in recorded crime across the West Midlands bus network.
Most of the cost of 'Safer Travel' is met from public funds, rather than those of NXWM. This contrasts with most commercial enterprises, such as football clubs, which have to pay a substantial amount for policing.
The 'Safer Travel' name is also used for presentations for schools 'educating children about how to respect their buses'.
The 'See Something, Say Something' campaign, where passengers are encouraged to anonymously send information about nuisance behaviour on buses by text message, has led to 134 arrests and a cut in crime of 15% since April 2010. Crime on the West Midlands bus network has fallen to its lowest level in the last five years.
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