by Ian Shires on 10 February, 2020
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) say they will deliver Birmingham’s first uninterrupted cross-city bus route in time for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games if the full business case is approved at this Friday’s meeting of the West Midlands Combined Authority.
The new Sprint bus route will run an express zero-emission service along the A34 and A45 between Walsall and Birmingham Airport and Solihull to Walsall via the city centre it has been confirmed.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board be asked to approve the £88 million funding and delivery schedule for Sprint, which will offer commuters and Birmingham 2022 visitors reliable services to key venues including Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr, Arena Birmingham and the Resorts World Arena.
Commuters will also benefit from the introduction of priority signalling, extended bus lanes and a swift boarding experience to improve journey times and reliability across the route.
Taking into account customer feedback from a prototype test, improved bus shelters along the route will include CCTV to support passenger safety, comfortable seating and real-time journey information. Changes in stop layouts and off-board ticketing will also speed up the boarding process reducing time spent at each stop compared to conventional buses.
The region is growing rapidly – and needs greater transport capacity to cope. By 2035, the population of the West Midlands is set to increase by up to 444,000 – that’s 100 people per day – and 215,000 new homes are set to be built by 2030.
TfWM’s aim is to build confidence in public transport and make it a viable option for travel, eventually reducing congestion on the region’s roads. Existing bus routes will also utilise new priority signals meaning over 30 million trips are expected to benefit from the changes.
The proposed operator, to be announced in due course, has indicated they will cover the full cost of the vehicles. Expert analysis has also revealed a return on investment to the Birmingham economy of at least £2.40 for every £1 spent on developing Sprint.
Sprint also supports Birmingham’s clean air policies and reflects the region’s commitment to combating climate change. The new zero-emission, multi-door vehicles will provide a unique offer to the West Midlands. Additional work on the route will take place following the Commonwealth Games to further enhance the service.
The full business case will be presented to the WMCA Board on 14th February.