Thousands of commuters will be given refunds on their bus, train and tram season tickets through a new refund scheme which has been set up since the coronavirus lockdown began.
The refund scheme was developed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and since details were issued at the start of April, so far 5,957 people have come forward to claim their money back.
Refunds will be given to those who have not travelled to work, school or college, either because they are self-isolating, working from home or on furlough. The refund will be back-dated to the last day the travel pass was used after March 16.
The figure for claims covers only the season tickets, such as the nBus, nTrain or nNetwork passes, sold and administered by TfWM on behalf of bus, rail and tram operators. Most are issued using TfWM’s Swift Card scheme and are paid by direct debit.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Since lockdown began we have discouraged people from using public transport unless journeys are absolutely essential, and I am delighted that so many people have listened to the advice and helped us in the fight against coronavirus.
“However, many people who are now not travelling could be left out of pocket because they have already purchased season tickets. It is therefore only right that TfWM arranges refunds.”
TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has issued clear guidance on how the refund scheme works at: https://www.networkwestmidlands.com/get-in-touch/refunds/coronavirus-covid-19-ticket-refund-scheme-guidance/
Staff are currently processing the claims and have started the process of returning money to customers which will carry on into May.
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We have set out clear guidance for people who have purchased their travel pass from TfWM to claim a refund if they are working from home, self-isolating or been put on furlough for the lockdown.
“These refunds can provide extra financial help in particular for some of those who have seen their income reduced through no fault of their own and I would urge everyone eligible to come forward and claim their money back.”
Where a season pass has been issued by a private bus or train operator then those companies should be approached for details of their own refund scheme. The region’s largest bus operator National Express West Midlands has refunded thousands of customers.
Daljit Kalirai, National Express’ sales director, said: “I’d like to thank all National Express customers for their patience. We are all working together as hard as we can in these difficult times to clear the backlog, and we have now refunded 12,000 customers.
“We are looking forward to welcoming people safely back on to our buses when things start returning to normal. And we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to start travelling again and get the best payment option for them. There’ll be updates on our website in the next few weeks.”