National Express West Midlands

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Route 33.jpg
Alexander Dennis Enviro400 with route 33 branding in April 2013
Parent National Express
Founded 26 October 1986
Headquarters Birmingham
Service area West Midlands
Service type Bus services
Alliance National Express Coventry
Chief executive Peter Coates

National Express West Midlands[1] (NXWM) is a bus operator in the West Midlands that operates services in Birmingham, Walsall and Wolverhampton. It is a subsidiary of the National Express Group.


Former logos
Logo from 1986-1996
Logo from 1996–2008
Logo from 2008–2015

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 April 1995 the company merged with National Express, and in September 1996 rebranded as Travel West Midlands. In November 2002 the Coventry services were rebranded Travel Coventry.[2]

The former Travel Your Bus and Travel Merry Hill subsidiaries have been merged into the main fleet.

In February 2008 as part of a rebranding of all National Express subsidiaries, it was renamed National Express West Midlands.[3][4] 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.[5] This was achieved in July 2010, with the withdrawal of the final MCW Metrobus in operation at Acocks Green garage.[6]


A two-tier flat fare structure is in operation within the West Midlands county boundary; there is a standard single fare for any distance and a cheaper short-hop fare. Cash fares can be bought from the driver on the bus, but as with some other urban operators, no change is given for security and speed of boarding.[7] Child fares are available at half the adult cost. Graduated fares apply on some services outside the West Midlands.

Daysaver tickets can also be purchased from the driver, which allows unlimited travel on all NXWM services for the whole day. Selected services have special daily and weekly return tickets available.

Various pass type tickets are sold in advance (off-bus), for varying periods from 1 day to 1 year, covering different parts of (or the complete) operating area. The all-day Daysaver ticket, also available on-bus, includes NXWM routes running outside the West Midlands county (where single fares are sometimes higher) and services operated by sister company, National Express Coventry.

Older and disabled persons eligible for the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme can travel free after 0930 as in the rest of the country (an add-on ticket can be purchased for travel across the metropolitan area earlier in the day), and Transport for West Midlands fund free travel after 2300 too. Following successful trials in Yardley Wood of the new 'Smart' system for Concessionary Travel Pass holders, smart-card technology has now been introduced on all NXWM buses.[8]

On-bus ticketing systems and point of sale units are supplied by Parkeon.


Routes of significance include:

  • 11 which forms the Birmingham Outer Circle is a roughly circular, 27 mile (43 km) bus route in Birmingham, England (a small section crosses into Sandwell). It mainly follows the city's outer ring road, the A4040. Operating as routes 11A and 11C, it held the title of longest urban bus route in Europe between 1926 and 2013 before being beaten by route 360 in neighbouring Coventry.[9] Route 11 regained this title in July 2016 following the withdrawal of the 360 service.[10]
  • 50 which is one of the most frequent bus services in the UK outside London and it is often suggested that it is one of the most frequent in Europe. Britain's first low floor double decker bus operated on this route. The route now operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.[11]
  • 65 was the first bus route in the UK to operate on a guided busway.[12]
  • 97 which now operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - the night service began on 24 March 2013[13] making it the first regular night bus service in Birmingham for several years. Previously Birmingham had been one of the largest cities in Europe without a night bus operation.

Many routes can be traced back to the days of municipal operation but network reviews have resulted in major changes to the route numbering in recent years.

Route branding[edit]

The latest route branding uses a variety of colours to differentiate routes to make it easier to see buses operating on a particular route. It is now easier to identify high frequency routes as these are generally the routes which are being branded. On some corridors routes are grouped together in the same colour scheme where they are operated with the same buses.[14] The Platinum branded routes additionally operate in an all over silver & grey livery[15] and Wolverhampton route 1 and the Harborne [22/23] routes in an all over light green and white livery[16] (Hybrid Electric buses).

So far routes which have been branded in the new scheme are as follows: 1 (Wolverhampton) (Red), 2 (Wolverhampton) (Blue), 3/4 (Wolverhampton) (Yellow), 5/5A (Wolverhampton) (Dark Green), 6 (Wolverhampton) (Orange), 7 (Birmingham) (Purple), 9 (Birmingham) (Light Green), 10 (Wolverhampton) Pink, 10/10A (Walsall) (Pink), 11A/11C (Birmingham) (Yellow), 16(Birmingham) (Orange), 17 (Birmingham) (Yellow), Harborne [22/23] (Birmingham) (Red), 28 (Birmingham) (Yellow), 33 (Birmingham) (Light Green), 35 (Birmingham) (Royal Blue), 37 (Solihull) (Pink), Pershore Road [45/47] (Birmingham) (Orange), 50 (Birmingham) (Blue), 51 (Birmingham) (Blue), 54/154 (Wolverhampton) (Yellow), 59 (Wolverhampton) (Light Green), 71/72 (Solihull) (Purple), Soho Road [74] (Birmingham) (Blue), 82/87 (Birmingham) (Pink), X96 (Dudley) (Yellow), 97/97A (Birmingham) (Royal Blue), 101 (Birmingham) (Silver), 222 (Dudley) (Turquiose), 301/302 (Walsall) (Royal Blue), Platinum X1 (Light Green), Platinum X2 (Green), Platinum Sutton [X3/X4/X5] (Silver), Platinum X10 (Green), Platinum X14, Platinum X51 (Green), Platinum X61 (Blue), Platinum 126 (Green), Platinum 529 (Wolverhampton) (Pink), Platinum 934/935/937 (Light Green), Platinum 997 (Green).

The Platinum routes are all new buses (2015 or newer), whilst crimson & maroon liveried buses are running on routes 7, 9, 16, 28, 33, 37, 50, 71/72, 82/87, 97, 101 & 301/302.

Network reviews[edit]

At the end of April 2008, NXWM in conjunction with Centro, Dudley Council and other operators, re-routed, re-timed, and renumbered buses in the Dudley, Halesowen and Stourbridge areas.

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 April 2010 a network review for Walsall North (Bloxwich, Brownhills & Aldridge) took place, with another taking place at the end of July 2010 for West Birmingham.

The first review of 2011 was in March for services in East Birmingham/North Solihull,[17] followed by a review of services in Wolverhampton and West Walsall in July 2011.[18]

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.

Garages and travel shops[edit]

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 six travel shops located in Solihull Town Centre, 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.[19] 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.


National Express West Midlands unveiled in 2013 a £1.6 million AVL (control) centre from which all services are monitored to help identify problems and cut response times.[20] But there are also Route Managers and Inspectors present to identify and solve issues on the road, particularly in Birmingham City Centre where most frequent routes converge.

Anti-social behaviour and ticket inspections[edit]

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.[21]

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.[22]


National Express West Midlands is one of the largest bus operators in the UK, with a fleet of nearly 1,600 vehicles.[citation needed] A variety of bus types are used, including double-decks, single-decks, articulated and midi-buses.

In 2011 National Express West Midlands began investing in new greener vehicles, with the addition of 120 new buses to the fleet, including 18 'hybrid' vehicles. Alexander Dennis supplied nine Enviro 400H hybrid-power double-deckers and 50 diesel Enviro 400s, while Volvo supplied nine Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodied B5LHs hybrid-power double deckers and 52 B7RLE single-deckers. The new buses were to be progressively introduced to various garages from September 2011,[23] however due to some delays these buses began to enter service in November 2011, with the full rollout completed early in 2012.

In 2012 a further 100 new vehicles entered service, with the addition of more Wright Eclipse Urban 2 single-deck buses at Wolverhampton, Acocks Green, Birmingham Central and Pensnett garages to replace older single deckers such as Mercedes-Benz O405Ns and some Volvo B6LEs at Pensnett garages, Volvo B10Ls at Acocks Green and Optare Excels at Wolverhampton. A further 30 Alexander Dennis Enviro200s have entered service on routes 99, 222 and on routes at West Bromwich garage, replacing Volvo B6LEs. An extensive refurbishment programme has seen many older buses repainted into the new livery, as well as having etched windows and upholsteries replaced.[citation needed]

The investment is continuing in 2013, as Green Bus Funding has assisted again in the purchase of a further 21 new Alexander Dennis Enviro400 hybrid-powered double-deck buses which have entered operation at Wolverhampton garage on route 1 Tettenhall Wood - Dudley.

During 2015, orders have continued for new buses. Alexander Dennis Enviro400MMC buses have been introduced on routes 9 and 50. Orders for Alexander Dennis Enviro200MMCs have been placed for Acocks Green.


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 2652253 West Midlands Travel Limited
  2. ^ About Us National Express
  3. ^ TWN buses in name change Express & Star 10 January 2008
  4. ^ New brand, new name, new era National Express]
  5. ^ "£69 million Bus & Coach Order". Archived from the original on 3 April 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2008. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ White, P. (2008) Public Transport - Its Planning, Management and Operation
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^[day]=&
  12. ^ The former Birmingham (UK) Tracline 65 Kerb Guided Busway
  13. ^
  14. ^ NXWM individual vehicle livery & branding by fleetnumber
  15. ^
  16. ^ NXWM B5LH Hybrid
  17. ^ East Birmingham & North Solihull Bus Review
  18. ^ Wolverhampton and West Walsall Bus Review
  19. ^ NXWM Travelcard & Information Shops
  20. ^
  21. ^ "3,000 crimes in 12 months on West Midlands buses". Express and Star. 5 June 2010. 
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links[edit]