Transport for West Midlands
Location of the West Midlands within the United Kingdom
West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive|
West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority
|Formation||17 June 2016|
16 Summer Lane|
|West Midlands (county)|
|West Midlands Combined Authority|
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is the public body responsible for co-ordinating transport services in the West Midlands metropolitan county in England. It is an executive body of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and its policies and strategy are set by the WMCA Transport Delivery committee. TfWM's scope of responsibility is comparable to Transport for London.
TfWM's initial priorities are the expansion of the Metro through East Birmingham, Brierley Hill and Birmingham Airport, improvements to the M5 and M6 motorways, and new cycle routes as part of a metropolitan cycle network. There are also plans to work with central government over the future of the underused M6 Toll.
Before 2016, public transport services in the West Midlands were co-ordinated by the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, branded as Centro. Centro's policies were set by the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (WMITA). TfWM absorbed the functions, responsibilities, assets and staff of both of these organisations in June 2016, and the predecessor organisations were dissolved.
The WMCA's Transport Delivery Committee is a 19-member sub-committee of the Combined Authority Board. It forms part of TfWM's activities, and provides oversight of the operational delivery of transport across the West Midlands and advises the Combined Authority Board, through the Transport Portfolio Holder, on transport policy matters. The members are nominated by their respective local authorities; Birmingham City Council nominating seven members, the six other Metropolitan Boroughs nominating two members each. Each member has a single vote. The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Transport Delivery Committee are appointed by the Combined Authority Board.
The WMCA is the Local Transport Authority and has a statutory responsibility to implement policies and strategies that co-ordinate and promote the use of public transport in the West Midlands. The WMCA's transport responsibilities include:
- Setting and monitoring the authority's transport budget, determining the grants to be made to passenger transport companies, and determining the borrowing limits of the Combined Authority in relation to transport matters.
- The allocation and prioritisation of central government grants and other forms of funding.
- Long-term strategy for the West Midlands transport system, contributing to regional economic development through a network of high-volume public transport corridors.
- Constructing and maintaining public transport infrastructure (bus, Metro stations, for example).
- Working with public transport operators, the police, and district councils for the promotion of safe, efficient, and economic transport facilities and services.
- Providing integration between public transport modes, including the provision of interchanges.
- Promoting and publicising the public transport network and providing travel information.
- Developing a rapid transit network, including West Midlands Metro.
- Developing the rail network in partnership with Network Rail and train operating companies, and formulating policies regarding a devolved rail franchise from October 2017.
- Maximising the benefits of HS2 across the West Midlands region.
- Considering and approving the creation and development of Bus Quality Contract Schemes
- Increasing bus travel, and supporting the modernisation of the bus network in the region with the West Midlands Bus Alliance.
- Subsidising socially necessary but commercially non-viable bus services.
- Franchising bus services, if deemed necessary to improve passenger services.
Ticketing and fares
- Operating a concessionary fares scheme and implementing the government’s National Concessionary Scheme.
- Integrated ticketing and developing smartcard ticketing technology within the region.
- Providing an annual grant to the operator of the door-to-door Ring and Ride service for people who have difficulty using other public transport facilities.
- Management of the West Midlands Key Route Network (WM-KRN) on behalf of the metropolitan boroughs and the mayor.
- Create and promote an effective freight strategy throughout the metropolitan area.
The name Network West Midlands was introduced by TfWM's predecessor, Centro, in 2005 and used for a rebranding of the public transport network, based on the premise that survey information had indicated that more people would use public transport if a strong brand was identifiable. Promotion of the brand has included television advertising, print media, and online media. All bus stops, Metro stops, and railway station signage were replaced with Network West Midlands signage. The VAG Rounded typeface in use by Centro was replaced by a new typeface called Network. The Network West Midlands brand was retained by TfWM when it assumed responsibility for public transport from Centro in 2016; it will be phased out in favour of TfWM as the network brand in 2018. 
West Midlands Metro
TfWM's predecessor, Centro, was responsible for the reintroduction of tram services to the West Midlands, with the development of the Midland Metro. Plans for a multi-line light rail system for the West Midlands were first drawn up in the early 1980s. The first (and so far only) line of the Midland Metro was opened in May 1999 between Birmingham and Wolverhampton. The line's first extension into the streets of Birmingham city centre, from its original terminus at Birmingham Snow Hill to Grand Central opened in May 2016. Further extensions of the system are planned.
In August 2009, TfWM's predecessor, Centro, backed construction of a new railway in the West Midlands region for use by High Speed 2 trains, which would allow existing lines to have "better and more frequent local services".
In July 2014, it was announced that a new BRT bus-tram service named Sprint would be introduced on the Hagley Road, from which it would connect with the western end of the Metro's Line One extension. Viewed as 'Metro's Little Sister', Sprint is intended to offer a higher level of service quality than standard bus services, and will feature some bus priority measures, like bus lanes and priority signalling to speed up service. Sprint should grow demand, and improve connectivity in areas which do not yet fully justify Metro access. Centro stated that the new City Centre-Quinton route was chosen primarily for its potential for economic growth. The route will have 16 stops.
If the Quinton line is successful, there are plans to expand Sprint by running a service down the Coventry Road to the airport, connecting with the existing Sprint service in the city, thereby providing a cross-city connection which is currently not offered by bus or Metro.
TfWM is committed to the introduction of an integrated ticketing system. Network West Midlands tickets are valid across the entire network, on any operator involved in the 'n' scheme.
nBus tickets are valid on almost all operators' services in the county. Tickets can be purchased for travel within various local travel areas or across the whole of the county, and are valid for periods ranging from one day to a year. Metro travel may be added onto nBus passes.
nTrain passes are valid on all local train services within the Network West Midlands zonal rail map, or to select out-of-county stations in the Birmingham travel-to-work metropolitan area.
Swift is the multi-modal, multi-operator smart travel card, similar to the Oyster card scheme in London. Rather than being a single card, it is a range of contactless passes and cards that share a common system and brand name. Centro began a phased rollout of the Swift card scheme in 2012, which was still ongoing in 2016 when responsibility for the scheme passed to TfWM. The system is expected to be extended across the local rail network as part of rail devolution in the West Midlands.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
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- "Sprint : Metro's Little Sister" (PDF). Bearwoodblog.files.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2016-07-21.