As this piece in the Observer points out:
Economic benefits of local buses eclipse unrealistic HS2 target
The messages from all this are clear. First, transport infrastructure makes a real difference to the effectiveness of local economies and the lack of investment in places such as Birmingham has come at a price.
As a report on how to rebuild the regional economies of the UK published last week noted, it is time the Treasury revised its assessment criteria for transport projects to give more weight to the less prosperous parts of the UK. The payoff in productivity terms would be considerable.
Second, if money is the issue the government should think about scrapping HS2 and reallocating the tens of billions it is going to cost to smaller-scale local projects. It would not be nearly as sexy but, pound for pound, the benefits of improving the bus network in Birmingham or criss-crossing the West Midlands with trams would bring much more to the local economy than cutting the journey time to London on HS2.
Finally, the story of Birmingham’s buses makes the strongest of cases for power and money to be devolved. The people who know just how long it takes to get from Stirchley to New Street station should be given the responsibility for doing something about it.