National Express

Win a £25k award plus support package to produce a creative sustainability project with National Express

Innovate:Create – a Create Central project powered by Innovation Engin3 – is offering creative digital SMEs in the West Midlands a chance to develop a project to encourage the sustainable use of public transport and get people back on the bus as a greener way to get around.

The winning company will be awarded £25k and support from Create Central and Sustainability West Midlands to develop a creative concept with National Express to communicate the benefits of a shift from single-occupancy cars to public transport and active travel.


We are looking for SMEs from the creative and digital sector, not limited to those with expertise in Film, Audio, Advertising, Gamification, Animation, Digital, and Immersive, to help us provide a solution that will assist us in attracting users back on the bus, or encouraging new users to move from their cars to the bus.

Speaking about the aims of the challenge, National Express says: “Encouraging people to change their behaviour is vital to the UK achieving its net zero target. We would like to work with a creative business who can provide us with an innovative solution to encourage change in behaviour and to trial ways that make catching the bus stand out as an attractive mode of travel.”

To be eligible, your SME must be a limited company with its main registered address in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) region.


National Express West Midlands is fully committed to sustainability. We have bought our last diesel bus. We have pledged that our entire 1600 bus fleet will be zero-emission by 2030.

We want to explore and promote modal shift from single-occupancy cars to public transport and active travel. We see an appetite for this among certain sections of consumers, but it’s still unclear whether sustainability drives purchasing decisions and behaviour change.

Passenger numbers have declined as a result of the pandemic, with some consumers choosing to travel in their cars due to unfortunate government messaging about avoiding public transport.

Department for Transport figures – 31 January 2022:

  • Motor vehicle use was at 91% of an equivalent day – up from 90% last week
  • Bus use outside London was at 74% of an equivalent day – up from 69% last week (stats for 22 January 2022)
  • Barriers to NXWM bus usage are primarily hygiene factors shared by all brand operations:
  • Car ownership: youth opportunity
  • Reliability of service – heavy users feel the pain of this greater than light or occasional users.
  • Cost – view held by lower socioeconomic groups and non-concessionary segments
  • Confused communication of routes, timetables, bus stop and on-bus signage. Perceptions have improved dramatically with launch of app and new website but active engagement is generally limited to daily commuters.
  • Anxiety among young people around entire process
  • (Perceived) lack of cleanliness
  • (Perceived) inconvenience of bus stops
  • Overcrowding at peak times and popular routes
  • Emotional perceptions held by non-users are harder to shift:
  • Habit – taking the bus is simply not on their radar
  • Car is more convenient – direct, in control
  • Car is faster
  • Buses are full of ‘the great unwashed’ and ‘randoms’
  • Bus drivers are grumpy and unfriendly
  • Car is less harmful to environment
  • Uber can be cheaper as a group and less stressful
  • Old fleet – unaware of contactless and wifi, legroom, Platinum
  • Ingrained memories of school bus bullying


Encouraging people to change their behaviour is vital to the UK achieving its net zero target.

Bus is the sustainable option – one bus takes 75 cars off the road.

If everyone swapped one journey by car per month for one by bus instead, there would be 1 billion fewer car journeys and we would reduce the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2 million tonnes a year.

Just 6 more bus journeys a year by everyone is equal to the entire bus fleet transitioning to zero-emission.

Bus travel is very accessible in the West Midlands, everyone is within 400 metres of a bus stop.


Existing car owners/potential bus customers in the 7 council areas in the West Midlands Combined Authority

National Express staff – we should be leading modal shift by example! We have 7,000 people working across 11 sites in the West Midlands.


Could include (but are not limited to):



Advertising creative