As a family, we love days out and adventures. Most of these adventures are ones we pack the car up for and go off exploring and others, we like to take advantage of public transport to get us from A to B and are much closer to home. We recently worked with National Express West Midlands to see how easy it was to travel across the Midlands to enjoy a day out on our doorstep.
National Express West Midlands operate buses in the West Midlands area (Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton) and every day, it’s estimated that they carry around 1 million people to work, school, college and leisure activities. During morning rush hour 28 people a second board a National Express bus in the West Midlands. That’s a lot of people but I was secretly hoping they weren’t all going to get on the same bus as me!
Birmingham is a great place for events and recently British Athletics held their Championships at Alexander Stadium just on the outskirts of the city. Sometimes it’s easier and much more convenient to catch a bus to an event and with a Group Daysaver (for a group of up to 5 people or 2 adults and 4 children) for just £7 for all day travel on any National Express West Midlands bus, it worked out much cheaper than going by car!
From where we live, we needed to catch a bus into Walsall and then catch another bus towards Perry Barr, Birmingham. We missed the first bus we had intended to catch because getting somewhere on time is a rarity these days but thankfully the buses were very regular and we only had a ten minute wait. It was a straight forward journey and at the time we travelled it was relatively quiet. As we were travelling with a pushchair, I was a little concerned there might not be enough room on the bus for our wheels but I didn’t need to worry as we were the only passengers on the bus with a pushchair.
Getting the pushchair onto the bus was easy as they have low-floor accessibility which makes travelling with a baby or a wheelchair really convenient. There’s dedicated areas on the bus too with space for wheelchairs or pushchairs so again something I didn’t really need to worry about.
Contactless tickets and payment
Do you ever worry about not having the right change for the bus? Back in the day when I used to catch the bus for work, I’d worry about not having the right money and then losing 40p each day as I didn’t have the exact change (it all adds up!) well now you don’t need to worry about that as all buses now have contactless technology. You can pay for your bus journey via your contactless debit cards, apple and android pay as well as buying your tickets through an app on your phone. It was far too easy and I was convinced something would go wrong as it was just too easy! But it didn’t and it was great!
We caught the bus from Walsall to Perry Barr and Olly loved it. He’s such a public transport fan. I think it’s the novelty of not having to wear a seatbelt and being able to get up and change seats if you want too as well as seeing things from a different height than in our car.
Our second bus journey only took 25 minutes so we were at the Athletics event before we knew it and Olly pressed the button to ask the driver to stop the bus at the next bus stop along the road. The journey was quick, easy and pretty quiet for a Saturday morning. Having commuted to work on a bus in the past, I know that not all bus journeys are so quiet so it’s good to know that all National Express West Midlands buses have CCTV fitted and they’re hot on anti-social behaviour on their buses so we felt very safe throughout our journey.
We arrived at Alexander Stadium feeling excited for our day ahead and couldn’t wait to watch some Athletics. We also wanted to have a wander around the fan zone which always has something fun for the children to take part in. This year Olly felt brave enough to join in and wanted to compete against his Dad in some warm ups and along the track. He even took part in the high jump masterclass which surprised us all but he loved it. It was great to see him enjoying himself and wanting to have a go for himself.
We watched some brilliant Athletics and my husband and Olly even got to have a selfie with Olympian Linford Christie OBE and triple jumper Jonathan Ilori. It was a fantastic family day out and we’re hoping to go back to the next meet at Alexander Stadium in August.
The journey home on the bus was understandably busier but we all managed to get aboard and get a seat back to Walsall. We were really impressed with how easy and convenient it was to travel and it’s something we’ll definitely be doing more of during the Summer holidays. Thanks National Express West Midlands for a fantastic day out!
Disclosure: We were provided with transport tickets and entry to the athletics as part of this paid collaboration. All words and images are my own.