National Express launch West Midlands canal bus
National Express West Midlands has launched a canal bus so commuters can beat the rush hour between Birmingham and the Black Country.
The drive-on/drive-off single-decker can take 50 passengers and will power its way to Tipton and back on the under-used Birmingham canal network.
This morning’s news, unusually released for Saturday morning publicity, follows the announcement that Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is to take over the day-to-day running of its Midland Metro trams from October 2018 when the current concession, currently held by National Express, finishes.
The move will enable TfWM, which is the transport arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to plough millions of pounds of future profits back into expanding the network.
Existing National Express staff will be transferred over to a new subsidiary company – Midland Metro Ltd – which will be wholly owned by the WMCA.
Commenting on the canal bus, Olaf Prilo, Chief Envisioning Engineer at National Express West Midlands, said:
Transport Focus’ recent Bus Passenger Survey showed that congestion is having a serious impact on our passengers’ overall satisfaction with their bus journey. More than a quarter of journeys in England in 2016 were held up by congestion.
The West Midlands is blessed with more canals than Venice, plus we also have the best automotive engineers here in the region. So we thought we could combine the two to come up with something that will avoid the traffic to get commuters to work more quickly.
Our new canal-bus is a dirigible. It only uses energy for propulsion, so it’s environmentally friendly and very quiet.
During the initial trial period, all N-network bus and tram tickets are valid on the canal bus service.
This story was published on the morning of the 1st April 2017…
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