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Calls to bring back night buses

Birmingham's night-time economy tsar has called on candidates in the forthcoming West Midlands mayoral election to commit to trials to bring back night buses.

Lawrence Barton, who is chair of Southside BID as well as being the official night-time economy champion for Birmingham City Council, said having buses through the night was “essential” to the city’s entertainment economy.

“Birmingham has one of the most exciting nightlife offerings in the UK, but at the same time we suffer from having very little public transport running much after midnight. This means that thousands of workers serving in bars and nightclubs, plus tens of thousands of customers, have no easy or economic way of getting back home if they live outside the city centre.

“Ideally we would have night buses to serve everyone, but we’re also keen on trialling a ring-and-ride service to make things easier and safer for staff to get home.”

Richard Parker, Labour’s candidate in the mayoral election, explained that he wanted to take buses back into public control to help drive the region's economy, including the night-time economy. I believe that night buses must return, not just in Birmingham but in other areas of the West Midlands as well, and we’ll be looking into that with a desire to make it happen.”

Last month, £16.5m worth of funding for a Bus Service Improvement Plan was allocated to Transport for West Midlands by the Department for Transport, to help grow passenger numbers.

Commenting on this investment, the current West Midlands mayor Andy Street said that it could include the return of some night buses to “make a real difference for those going out for an evening or for shift workers … support[ing] our night-time economy”.

Lawrence said: “I am pleased that Richard Parker wants to see night-time buses, and that Andy Street has indicated that he’s keen to see the return of such services too. But we now want a firm commitment from the next mayor to fund trials as soon as possible, so that local authorities and bus companies can see the level of demand that’s out there and deliver what is needed."