Belfast Telegraph

Bus fare cuts to be rolled out across West Midlands, says National Express

Transport giant National Express has said it will roll out bus fare cuts further across the West Midlands and take lessons from its coach arm as it looks to turn its bus business around.

The group said recent moves to slash fares in Sandwell and Dudley had already started to bear fruit, with higher passenger numbers and sales in the two areas.

It now wants to "extend the lessons from these early successes" further across the West Midlands as part of efforts to overhaul the bus division, which has suffered amid sliding passenger numbers.

Its bus passenger numbers fell 0.7% in the first four months of the year, although they lifted by 1% in the most recent six weeks, according to National Express.

It said that as well as wider fare reductions, its bus division is harnessing the expertise of its better performing coach business through a recent management reshuffle.

National Express added it was looking forward to working constructively with the new West Midlands Mayor Andy Street - the former boss of department store chain John Lewis - to "deliver ever-improving services and tackle congestion".

The group added that group-wide sales surged 15.8% in the first four months of 2017 thanks to a "significant" boost from the Brexit-hit pound.

Sales rose 5.4% with currency effects stripped out, while it said profits were also ahead year-on-year.

The group's coach arm was boosted by a 4% rise in passengers over the Easter break, with revenues up 2.7%.

It added that its north American business also had a strong start to the year, with recent acquisitions boosting revenues by 5.8% on a constant currency basis.