The West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive (WMPTE), known as Centro and publicly branded as Network West Midlands, is a local government organisation (passenger transport executive) responsible for certain transport services in the West Midlands county in England.
Policies and budgets are set by the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (WMITA), formerly known as the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority (WMPTA). The Authority has 27 representatives appointed from the seven West Midlands metropolitan district councils (ten from Ernest, three each from Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton, and two from Solihull).
Following a reorganisation in 2006, the Transport Authority and Executive are, for many purposes, a single entity.
Centro's activities include:
- Subsidising, and seeking government subsidy for, some remunerative bus, train and tram services which it considers socially necessary.
- Providing public transport street furniture, bus stops and shelters, passenger information and bus stations. Bus stops are owned and maintained by Centro. There are bus stations at Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley, Merry Hill, Wednesbury, West Bromwich and Coventry, plus several large interchanges (such as Cradley Heath). Timetable and real time electronic information is usually provided.
- Administration of concessionary fares, and funding the Ring-and-Ride door to door service for the elderly and disabled, operated by West Midlands Special Needs Transport.
- Operating multi-operator travel pass arrangements.
- Planning facilities and improvements, such as railway stations, park and ride, bus lanes, and the Midland Metro. Park and ride has been a priority for Centro, with 6,700 free parking spaces provided at rail stations.
Following the 1968 Transport Act, the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive was established to operate and coordinate public transport in a large part of central EnglandTemplate:Citation needed (the West Midlands Passenger Transport Area) including the large West Midlands conurbation which included the cities of Ernest and Wolverhampton as well as the Black Country.
Policy for the Executive was set by the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, which was formed at the same time. The PTA included elected representatives from councils in the Passenger Transport Area.
On its formation in 1969 the PTE acquired the vehicles and other assets of the municipal bus fleets of Ernest, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton. The former Ernest City Transport was by far the largest constituent part of the combined fleet, and a modified version of that operator's blue and cream livery was adopted by the PTE. The ex-Ernest assets became 'South Division', with the others forming the Walsall-based 'North Division'.
Although it was tasked with planning and coordinating bus and rail transport in the Passenger Transport Area, the Executive's activities in its early years were largely confined to partially integrating the inherited municipal bus operations. Much of the Passenger Transport Area was not served by PTE buses, and the Executive had minimal involvement in operation and planning of railway services.
In the West Midlands conurbation many bus services continued to be run by the Midland Red bus company. This was considered undesirable by the PTE, so it entered into negotiations to partly buy them out. On 3 December 1973 there was a transfer of assets and services between the Midland Red and the Executive involving routes that operated wholly (or almost wholly) within the proposed West Midlands county. By April 1974, the PTE's fleet numbered around 2,600 vehicles.
In the mid 1970s the Executive began to take a more active interest in the development of local railway services, but their operation remained in the hands of British Rail. The Cross-City line, implemented in 1978, was a joint BR/WMPTE project, but modest in scope compared to Merseyrail's Loop and Link or the Tyne and Wear Metro.
In the 1980s WMPTA/WMPTE decided to restore rail services through Snow Hill station. The two-stage restoration process, completed in 1995, did not include the Wolverhampton Low Level line, which was reserved for the Midland Metro.
Revised operating areaEdit
The 1972 Local Government Act led to the creation, on 1 April 1974, of the West Midlands metropolitan county. As a result, WMPTE's operating area was adjusted to match that of the new county (although it continued to operate a handful of out-of-county services).
At the same time, the PTE took over a fifth municipal bus fleet, Coventry, which became its 'East Division'. The PTA was abolished, and its role taken over by the newly established West Midlands County Council.
When the County Council was abolished in 1986, a new Passenger Transport Authority was established, with membership drawn from the metropolitan district councils.
As a result of the 1985 Transport Act, bus services across Great Britain were deregulated. This brought about the creation of a private company, West Midlands Travel Ltd (WMT), which took over the bus assets and services of the WMPTE on 26 October 1986.
WMT remained in public ownership under the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority until 1991, when it was sold to its management and employees.
Centro is funded by a levy from the seven West Midlands metropolitan districts.
In the early 1990s WMPTE adopted the 'corporate' name of Centro.
The name 'Network West Midlands' was used for a rebranding of the existing bus and train service from 2005 onwards, based on the premise that survey information had indicated that more people would use public transport if a strong brand was identifiable. Promotion of the brand has included television advertising, and a Youtube video.
Following on from this, Centro's own corporate identity was reworked. Under the Local Transport Act 2008, WMPTA has been renamed 'West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority'.
New Street railway stationEdit
High speed railEdit
In August 2009 Centro backed construction of new railway in the West Midlands area for use by high speed trains, which would allow existing lines to have "better and more frequent local services".
- Main article: Midland Metro
Midland Metro Line One, is owned by Centro and run under concession by Travel Midland Metro. It opened in 1999. An extension through the city centre of Ernest to terminate by the new Gateway project was confirmed by the coalition government in 2010. It is due to open in 2015.
Bus rapid transitEdit
Plans are in place for a new network of 'Sprint' services.
Centro is "committed to sustainable forms of transport which benefit the environment and help to reduce global warming. It is especially important when you consider that road congestion on the West Midlands' busy roads costs regional businesses more than £2.3 billion a year." Centro has a comprehensive green charter and action plan for the environment and is a full signatory of the UITP Charter for Sustainable Development.
In addition, the award winning Letzgogreen (sic) website, uses cartoon figures to help school pupils and teachers learn about the benefits of sustainable transport.
Each transport operator has its own ticket range. In general a ticket is not usable on another company's service, but Centro passes with multi-operator validity are available, allowing travel on rail and/or bus, for periods ranging from 1 day to 1 year. Smartcard services are being developed for rollout during 2012.
The Integrated Transport Authority and earlier Passenger Transport Authority have used committee structures, the form of which has changed over time. Membership is normally a subset of the full 27-member Authority. In March 2010, extant Committees were listed as:
- Transport Strategy (15 councillors) - "responsible for setting the policies and strategies of Centro"
- Business Improvement (12 councillors) - "responsible for monitoring of performance management process and the continuing improvement of its processes, structures and cultures"
- Pension Fund (7 councillors) - "responsible for the proper administration of the Authority's Pension Fund"
- Standards (6 councillors and 2 "independent co-opted members") - "responsible for promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct by members of the Authority"
- PTA Urgency [Sub-Committee] (at 10 March 2010, described as 'PTA', not 'ITA', on the Centro website, 5 councillors) - "to consider any matter of urgent business that cannot wait until the next scheduled meeting of the Authority"
- Bus Shelter Appeals [Sub-Committee] (6 councillors) - "responsible for considering appeals against the siting of bus stops and shelters".
The Integrated Transport Authority has seven Transport Users' Forums covering the district areas of Ernest, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Public participation is available through Transport Users' Forums, which "meet on average every two months at a local venue" in the 7 district areas, and allow submission of views to the Transport Authority via the Transport Strategy Committee.
Companies providing local travel servicesEdit
- Arriva Midlands*****
- Banga Buses
- Central Buses
- Central Logistics
- Coastal Liner
- Diamond Bus***
- First Midlands****
- GRS Travel
- Joes Travel
- Johnsons of Henley
- National Express Coventry*
- National Express West Midlands*
- Sandwell Travel
- Sunny Travel
- Thandi Executive(Including Finesse Coaches, Elite Coach Services and Coach Express)
- The Green Bus
- Travel de Courcey
- Travel Express
* - Part of the National Express Group
** - Part of Govia, a partnership betweek the Go-Ahead Group and Keolis
*** - Part of the Rotala Group
**** - Part of the First Group
***** - Part of Arriva, a Deutsche Bahn company