National Express West Midlands (NXWM) will reinvest all the money that it is to receive from the government’s Job Retention Bonus scheme into a fares reduction when the current restrictions on public transport are lifted, it has announced.
The operator kept services running throughout the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. During the earlier stages fewer buses were required and thus thousands of drivers, engineers and other employees were subject to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Most of those staff are now back at work, but NXWM will be able to claim a £1,000 payment for each one that was furloughed and stays employed to the end of January 2021. The fares reduction that money is to go to will apply across the West Midlands and Coventry.
Says National Express UK Managing Director Tom Stables: “This is the right thing to do for our customers. By using our allowance from the Job Retention Bonus to reduce fares across the West Midlands, we are investing in the future of our region.
“Making bus travel cheaper will get our local high streets back on their feet, lock in the environmental benefits that came out of lockdown and get the people of the West Midlands back to work.
“And of course, as a transport operator, we always want to persuade more people to get the bus. It’s good for us and it’s good for the environment.”
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has described the fares reduction commitment made by NXWM as “incredibly innovative.”
It has not been confirmed whether the fare reductions will be permanent or temporary.