Birmingham will enjoy better public transport under proposals to give councils more control over bus services, a Minister said yesterday.

Transport Minister Rosie Winterton was in the West Midlands yesterday to open the new multi-million pound Coleshill Parkway station, in Warwickshire.

The £9 million station will provide services to Birmingham and Leicester.

Ms Winterton also met with local councillors and business leaders from across the West Midlands to discuss the Government's plan to reform bus services by giving authorities more control over them.

For the first time, councils will be able to lay down the minimum level of service bus providers must provide, including how often buses run. Bus companies will then have the opportunity to bid for the contract to run the service as set out by the council.

The proposal marks a major shift away from the current arrangements, which allow bus companies to run services with very little interference from councils.

In principle, competition between rival bus companies is supposed to ensure passengers enjoy a good service but critics of the current system claim it has failed to encourage commuters to use public transport.

The one part of the country where bus services are still regulated is London - where bus usage has risen by 55 per cent since 1985.

However, buses in the capital also receive significant subsidies paid for by taxation.

The Government's Draft Transport Bill will allow every council to have more control over buses.