Network West Midlands organises Birmingham’s public transport system, which is comprised of buses, a light rail route and suburban trains.
Buses are run by National Express West Midlands, Stagecoach and several other companies that provide a good bus service in the Birmingham area and throughout West Midlands county.
One-way bus fares range from £1.50 (for a single trip on National Express West Midlands buses anywhere within the Birmingham inner ring road) to £2.40 for a longer journey. A day ticket costs £4.60. If you pay using a contactless payment card on a National Express West Midlands bus your fare will be automatically upgraded to a day ticket if you take two trips or more.
You need exact change if you’re paying cash, but most buses also accept contactless payment cards or the Swift card.
Midland Metro (tram)
The one line Midland Metro light rail system runs between the city centre and Wolverhampton. In central Birmingham, it stops at Grand Central (for Birmingham New Street station), Corporation Street, Bull Street, St Chads, St Pauls and Jewellery Quarter stations but once it leaves the city centre it runs along the street like a tram. One-way fares cost start at £1 (for a short hop in the city centre) and go up to £4. There are several travel passes (see below) that cover travel on the metro.
Birmingham has a good suburban rail network that is comprised of eight train lines. The train is a good way to get to places like the Ibis hotel at Bordesley, the Jewellery Quarter, Cadbury World in Bourneville and the Barber Institute at the University. The train is also the quickest way to Birmingham International Airport and Coventry.
Fares and travel passes
If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in the West Midlands, then the Swift card will be the easiest way to pay for your bus, tram and train fares. The Swift card is a stored-value payment card similar to the Oyster card that is used in London. Fares are slightly cheaper if you pay using a Swift card but the saving isn’t great enough to justify buying a Swift card if you’re in Birmingham for a day or two.
n-network One Day Card (bus, train & tram)
The n-network One Day Card is good for one day unlimited travel on bus, train and Metro trams within the Network West Midland area. It is valid all day and costs £9 (£8.80 with a Swift card).
n-network Daytripper (bus, train & tram)
The n-network Daytripper pass is good for one day unlimited travel on bus, train and Metro trams within the Network West Midland area. It is an off-peak ticket good for travel after 9.30 Mon–Fri and all day on weekends. The n-network Daytripper costs £6.90 (£6.70 with a Swift card).
n-bus One Day Ticket (bus)
The n-bus One Day Ticket costs £5 (£4.90 with Swift Pay As You Go) and is good for one-day unlimited bus travel within West Midlands County. An off-peak version of the one-day bus ticket costs £4.30 (£4.20 with a Swift card)
Metro/Bus (bus & tram)
The Metro/Bus pass costs £6.70 (£6.60 with a Swift card) and is good for one day bus and Midland Metro (tram) travel within West Midlands County. There is a cheaper version of this ticket that costs £5.20 (£5.10 with a Swift card) but bus travel on the cheaper pass is restricted to National Express West Midlands buses only.
West Midlands Day Ranger (train)
The West Midlands Day Ranger is a good deal if you want to make a day trip out of Birmingham. It is good for one-day unlimited travel in the West Midlands (Birmingham and Coventry) and parts of neighbouring counties including Crewe, Hereford, Northampton, Leamington Spa, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Stratford-upon-Avon and Worcester. It is good for off-peak travel after 9am Mon–Fri and all day on weekends. This pass costs £27.30.