NATIONAL Express West Midlands is increasing bus fares for the first time in 12 months from January 2.

The increases will apply to weekly travel cards and fares paid on the bus.

But the travel company has announced fares paid by direct debit will be frozen until 2010. At the same time, the Daysaver ticket costing £3 will also be frozen when bought in booklets of five.

National Express said it managed to hold the price of fares in 2008 despite increasing cost pressures, with some prices even being reduced. But the decision to increase some fares following its annual review reflected rising operating costs, including utilities and staffing costs.

For people paying on board the bus, single adult fares will increase by 10p to £1.20 for a short hop journey, and 20p to £1.70 for longer journeys.