Free bus and tram travel for all NHS staff during coronavirus outbreak

Friday 3rd of April 2020 08:07 AM

NHS staff will get free travel on all buses and trams in the West Midlands as they go to work to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Local bus operators and West Midlands Metro have teamed up to allow anyone working in our hospitals and frontline medical facilities to travel for free during the outbreak – simply by showing their NHS pass.

While most people are now staying at home and many businesses are closed, our hospitals are busier than ever with many extra staff being brought in to help deal with the emergency. 

So while demand for public transport has fallen and the frequency of some services has been scaled back, the all-day network remains operational and playing a vital role in ensuring key workers, including NHS staff, can get to work.

Now those staff can show their work passes and travel for free on buses operated by National Express West Midlands, Diamond, Landflight and Claribel, Banga, Coventry Community Transport, Evergreen (Thandi), Johnsons, Kev’s Cars, Select Bus, Travel De Courcey and Walsall Community Transport as well as West Midlands Metro services.

Children of key workers travelling to school are also eligible for free travel on production of their personalised letter allowing them to continue to attend school during this period.

The free travel offer comes after Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA),  launched free shuttle bus services for NHS and social care staff serving key locations, by redeploying the ring and ride minibus fleet.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “We want to do as much as we can to support our NHS workers at this difficult time, and I am delighted that our bus companies and the Midland Metro have stepped up to offer free services.

“This is just a small way in which we can help all those people who, while many of us are safely staying at home, are going into busy hospitals to help save lives.

“Today’s announcement follows the re-deployment of Ring and Ride buses across the West Midlands, which are now acting as shuttle services for NHS workers from key transport hubs to hospital sites.”

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council added: “Our transport operators have really stepped up here, not only are they keeping buses and trams running all day they are now offering the NHS staff free travel.

“We are advising that only those making essential journeys, such as key workers, those collecting necessary food or medical supplies and those supporting the vulnerable use public transport at this time. 

“The best thing the rest of us can do to help is stay at home and do not travel unless it is absolutely essential.”

The West Midlands Bus Alliance is the forum through which the region’s bus companies, passenger groups and TfWM work together to improve services. 

Chair of the Bus Alliance Linda McCord said: “”Buses and trams provide a critical service to NHS staff to get them to and from their work.

“The free travel offer is the right thing to do. It's good to see the transport sector working together to support those who are in the front line of combating the virus.” 

Chris Gibbens, commercial director with the region’s largest bus operator National Express West Midlands, said: “Our customers have been asking for this, so I’m happy to say we’ve worked closely with TfWM, via the West Midlands Bus Alliance, to make free travel to work for all NHS staff possible at this time on all National Express bus services - across the West Midlands.

 “We’d like to say thank you to our NHS heroes for everything they’re doing for the country. And I personally would like to thank all our drivers and engineering teams who are getting these crucial workers to where they need to be every day."