September 2023: News from Metro Mayor Dan Norris

OVER the Summer, I’ve been meeting some of the first ‘Birthday Bus’ passengers – West of England residents enjoying free bus travel throughout the month of their Birthday.

You can sign up too at 

I have to say, people are really buying into the benefits of this scheme.

People like Helen, who works in a chocolate shop. I got chatting to her a few weeks ago and she told me she’s been using her Birthday Bus pass to travel to work when she’d usually take the car.

She said it’s given her a reason to leave her car at home and try the bus, and she’s really loved helping the planet. 

Or people like Pauline, who told me Birthday Buses was a really good way to help ease a bit of financial stress during this frightening cost-of-living crisis.

The verdict is clear, so for those who haven’t already done so, please do apply for your free month of birthday travel at today, and tell your friends and family too. There’s nothing to lose and lots to gain!

When I was coming up with the idea for Birthday Buses, I knew we needed a plan that ticked lots of boxes. There are so many crises at the moment, with the cost-of-living crisis and the environmental emergency always at the forefront of my thinking. 

Birthday Buses ticks that cost-of-living box, with a whole month of bus travel for free. That’s one twelfth off your annual transport bills.

It’s also about tackling the climate emergency. A huge 44% of our carbon emissions currently come from transport, with fewer than one in ten regional commutes made on public transport. Shockingly, there are 300 preventable premature deaths due to air pollution every year. That’s why we need new ideas to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport.

Like many regions, our buses are struggling to match pre-pandemic performance. While most people who used to use buses are doing so again, they are travelling less.

Delve in and this makes sense. It reflects changing demand, as working from home practices displace commuting patterns and many face-to-face meetings, like GP appointments, move online. But with people making fewer journeys, there is less fare income coming in. That means cuts, and a downward spiral. 

Other places have tried free travel for a day or a week, but this is a whole month. Why? Because if you try our buses, I think you might like them – maybe even love them. And after a whole month, you might never look back.

We have to try something new.

Just throwing taxpayers money at subsidising buses isn’t sustainable. You spend the money and it runs out. And then you need more.

Instead, I’m determined that we invest to encourage new passengers to use our buses. It is the only long-term solution to grow a thriving bus network. 

So to Helen, Pauline and especially to you: many happy returns – and singles!