Birmingham coach giant National Express has struck a trail-blazing deal with the Highways Agency to help ease congestion and cut emissions on major UK routes.
The Digbeth-headquartered travel group has signed an official Memorandum of Understanding with the agency in the first agreement of its kind struck with a commercial organisation.
The initiative, sealed at a ceremony in London attended by National Express group chief executive Dean Finch and Highways Agency chief executive Graham Dalton, was the brainchild of Birmingham-based head of public affairs Matt Goggins.
Mr Goggins said: "I started in this job last year and one of my focuses was around much better engagement with stakeholders.
"National Express operates 80 million miles a year on UK roads. The reality is that we had no real contact with the Highways Agency at a strategic or operational level, although we operate our coach service on Highways Agency motorways. There was no formal liaison.
"I approached the agency, we wanted to look at the relationship again. Their number one strategy issue is delays caused by congestion on the roads. Congestion is also a key issue for us.
"Our average coach takes a mile of traffic off the motorway. We have got 40 years of experience of running coaches. We have a target of 90 per cent of our journeys to arrive within ten minutes of the published destination by 2017. We are running at between 83 and 84 per cent of that at the moment.
"We have been building this relationship over the past 12 months and signing this agreement formalises all of that."
He said punctuality was key to the business.
"It is that fundamental thing, both parties have committed to work to drive up punctuality on the coach network. We have established close links between our control centres," he added.
"We get early warning of any blockages on the motorway, enabling us to take diversionary routes. We are looking to stop a problem; instead of having five to ten coaches driving into a ten-mile tailback, they will be aware of their way to a diversionary route."