Getting around Birmingham

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Transport for West Midlands operates Birmingham’s public transport system, which is comprised of buses, a light rail route and suburban trains.

Bus

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 for a longer journey. A Day Saver ticket costs £4.50. 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 more than two trips.

You need exact change if you’re paying cash, but most buses also accept contactless payment cards or the Swift card.

West Midlands Metro (tram)

The one-line West Midlands Metro light rail system runs between the city centre and Wolverhampton. In central Birmingham, it stops at Centenary Square (for the library), Town Hall, Grand Central (for Birmingham New Street station), Corporation Street, Bull Street (for Snow Hill railway station), St Chads, St Pauls and Jewellery Quarter stations. For most of its length, it runs along the street like a tram. One-way fares cost start at £2 and go up to £4.50. There are several travel passes (see below) that cover tram travel and which are often better value if you’re making a return trip.

West Midlands Metro tram network map
Network map showing current and proposed lines on the West Midlands Metro tram network

Train

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 some hotels outside the city centre, 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 sometimes cheaper if you pay using a Swift card but the saving isn’t great enough to justify buying a Swift card if you’re only in Birmingham for a day or two.

One day nBus ticket (bus)

The nBus One Day Ticket costs £4.50 and is good for one-day unlimited bus travel within West Midlands County. You need a Swift card for this ticket as it needs to be paid using Swift pay as you go credit.

One day Metro Bus (bus & tram)

The one-day Metro/Bus pass costs £7.90 and is good for one day bus and West Midlands Metro tram travel within West Midlands County.

nNetwork one-day zones 1–5 (bus, train & tram)

The nnetwork one-day pass is good for one day of unlimited travel on bus, train and Metro trams within zones 1–5 in the Network West Midland area. It is valid all day and costs £10.

nNetwork daytripper (bus, train & tram)

The nNetwork daytripper pass is good for one day of unlimited travel on bus, train and tram within the Network West Midlands area. The off-peak ticket costs £7.80–8.20 (cheaper if you buy using Swift PAYG credit and more expensive if you buy on a bus or tram or from a railway station) and good for travel after 9.30am Mon–Fri and all day on weekends.

nNetwork daytripper Plus (bus, tram and train)

The nnetwork daytripper Plus ticket gives you one day of off-peak bus, tram and train travel in the West Midlands for £11.20 per day and it extends into neighbouring counties, allowing you to travel as far as Kenilworth, Kidderminster, Leamington Spa, Lichfield, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick.

West Midlands Metro day and week passes (tram)

West Midlands Metro have a range of daily and weekly passes available, which give you unlimited travel on trams only.

ZonesOne-day pass (peak)One-day pass (off-peak)One week pass
Zone 1£3.20£3£11.90
Zone 2£3£2.80£11.30
Zone 3£3£2.80£11.30
Zone 4£3£2.80£11.30
Zone 1+2£4.50£4.30£16.80
Zone 2+3£4.40£3.80£16.40
Zone 3+4£4.40£3.80£16.40
Zone 1+2+3£6£4.80£22.40
Zone 2+3+4£5.70£4.50£21.30
Zone 1–4£6.70£5£25.30

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 ticket lets you travel farther than the daytripper plus, allowing you to go as far as Rugby, Shrewsbury and Worcester and you can travel all day, instead of waiting till 9.30am, but doesn’t let you use buses or trams and at £32 for the day, it costs three times as much as the daytripper plus pass.

Midland Metro tram in Birmingham in the West Midlands (Photo: Alan Murray-Rust [CC BY-SA 2.0])
West Midlands Metro tram in Birmingham in the West Midlands (Photo: Alan Murray-Rust [CC BY-SA 2.0])

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