Congestion charging is still a very long way off, Simon Murphy, city region project director, admitted yesterday.
His comments came at a Breakfast Connection event at the Burlington Hotel when he also described the elected mayor issue as a "distraction".
He was giving a speech on the merits of the city region concept even though the Government seems to have fallen out of love with the idea.
Mr Murphy cited the National Exhibition Centre and Birmingham International Airport as major developments which had in the past come about because of regional cooperation.
Now the aim was to deliver similar strategic schemes such as an improved New Street station along with progress on transport and skills.
Though the city region institution – which is council dominated but has other representation including business – was currently only a "shadow board" and a voluntary partnership, there was a determination to move forward despite various models of local government being discussed nationally including elected mayors and council cabinets with four year terms.
"The city region partners in the West Midlands are coming together now," said Mr Murphy. "We can sit now and take decisions."
Indeed the whole issue of elected mayors was something of "a time-consuming distraction".
Some while back it had been discussed by West Midlands councils and no-one was keen on an elected mayor other than Stoke-on-Trent which now had one.
But he warned elected mayors would come back onto the agenda, and perhaps in even stronger voice, if the city region failed to deliver. On congestion charging, Mr Murphy insisted that the Government had to take on board putting money into improving public transport first.
Only then could congestion charging be introduced. For the moment the region was "a long way" from congestion charging.
And he expressed his disappointment at how so many business people refused to even consider using buses when in London a completely different attitude prevailed.
Saying the hope was that the city region board could help deliver big projects quicker than perhaps would otherwise be the case, he nevertheless voiced his "frustrations" at the public sector.
Mr Murphy said: "The job does have its frustrations. The public sector works in a very different way from the private sector. Processes can be very slow."
He warned that the West Midlands had a lot of ground to make up.
"This part of England is behind virtually every national average."
The aim had to be raising those standards to at least the average including worker productivity. It was vital too to join together to compete for inward investment particularly because Wales and Scotland could "pull the economic levers in ways we cannot".
He charged: "It is an uneven playing field you compete on even in our own country let alone internationally."
And the planning system did not help either. The city region board was discussing this with the Government, adding: "It is a drag on strategic development."
But there was criticism of the city region's long-winded title – Birmingham, the Black Country and Coventry City Region.