SAFER Travel police officers are to be given greater powers to deal with nuisance behaviour on buses, at bus shelters and in bus stations.
The proposed set of new byelaws explicitly forbid a range of anti-social acts on the bus network including smoking and vaping, drunk and disorderly behaviour, playing loud music, vandalism, threatening and offensive behaviour and obstructing other passengers.
Similar byelaws are already in force on trains and trams, but Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is set to become the first local authority in the country to adopt them on buses.
Under the byelaws enforcement officers will be able to direct people causing a nuisance to leave the bus or bus station, or issue fines for more serious incidents.
Since 2006, crime and anti-social behaviour on the region’s public transport has reduced by more than 60 per cent thanks to the work of the Safer Travel Partnership between TfWM, West Midlands Police and the British Transport Police.
However, surveys by passenger campaign group Transport Focus, indicate that more people would use buses if they felt safer and more comfortable.
The new byelaws will now go forward to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government for final approval ahead of their introduction next spring.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who chairs the WMCA, said: “While our public transport is incredibly safe, we know that these types of nuisance behaviour on our buses can undermine those feelings of security for passengers.
“So working with the Police and Crime Commissioner and his office through the Safer Travel Partnership we’ve been looking at ways to cut crime and anti-social behaviour on our public transport network, and that’s exactly what these new byelaws will help do.”
The West Midlands PCC, David Jamieson, added: “The safer people feel on public transport, the more likely they are to use it.
“I have been campaigning for these tougher powers for a number of years and I am pleased that our officers will now be able to take more robust action against those who act in an anti-social way on public transport.”