TRANSPORT Secretary Grant Shapps stopped off in Dudley yesterday to unveil plans by National Express to cut bus fares when legal limits on social contact are removed.

Mr Shapps visited the National Express garage in Pensnett, together with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, to announce plans to help get the region moving again after the pandemic and encourage people to switch from their cars to public transport.

As part of post-pandemic recovery plans - the bus company is set to cut the price of the peak day ticket from £4.60 to £4 when social distancing requirements cease...which is expected to be from June 21.

A peak weekly ticket will drop from £17.50 to £15 from that day - back to its 2012 price; and a child ticket will be £2 a day - down from £2.50.

The fares are expected to be the cheapest in England and are predicted to save the average commuter £130 a year on bus travel.

The company is also bringing in contactless weekly ticket price capping in June so customers can travel as much as they like - by showing a contactless bank card (or the banking app on their phone) to the bus ticket machine each time they get on. At the end of seven days, they will be charged no more than the cost of a weekly ticket - however many journeys they have made.

National Express West Midlands will be the first company outside London to offer the flexible option.

David Bradford, National Express West Midlands managing director, said: “We're delighted to be cutting the price of bus tickets this summer to help get our region moving again.

“While most bills always go up, we're doing the opposite. Half of bus customers will pay less than they do now - nobody will pay more.

“These bus fare cuts mean travelling all day will cost less than the price of a burger.

“Getting people onto buses will build back our high streets, get people back into jobs and education, clean up our air and help the UK meet its carbon targets.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said of the news: “This cut in fares is a fantastic decision from National Express that will help get our region back on the move as we come out of the pandemic, by not only making buses cheaper but simpler to use too.

“National Express is part of the West Midlands Bus Alliance and one of the main deliverables of that is an agreement to keep fares low. In fact, we have worked together to ensure a fare freeze over the last four years, with the price of the day ticket at the same £4.60 price since 2017.

“We believe we will have the cheapest bus fares in England – cutting costs for millions of people at a challenging time, linking them to new opportunities and persuading more people to switch to public transport for a cleaner, greener way of getting around.”