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Sprint buses down Hagley Road by 2016 under £15m plans

The Midlands' first bus-based rapid transit system could be running in two years

How Birmingham Sprint may look
How Birmingham Sprint may look

A new breed of buses are set for Birmingham's streets within two years under a £15 million scheme.

The Midlands' first bus-based rapid transit system, featuring vehicles that look and operate like a tram but without tracks or overhead cables, could be running by 2016.

Sprint is being launched by public transport co-ordinator Centro and will follow the number nine bus route from Birmingham to Quinton, serving Broad Street then along Hagley Road.

 

Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: "Sprint is part of the vision we have for a world-class public transport system in the West Midlands.

"By offering a fast and reliable alternative to the car, we believe we can get more people on to public transport, thus reducing traffic congestion that costs this region's economy £2.3 billion a year."

Sprint would be a first for the UK - although other UK cities such as Cambridge and York operate bus-based rapid transit systems but using conventional buses - and was boosted by funding in the Government's growth deals.

Centro says it combines the capacity and speed of a tram system but with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus.

The scheme will cost £15 million and is funded through Centro and by the government via Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP.

If approved this year, construction could start in 2015 with Sprint going live 18 months later.

£50 million has also been earmarked to implement a Sprint route to the airport by 2021.

Centro chairman Coun John McNicholas said: "This is a completely new form of public transport in the West Midlands and we want to know what people think about the idea.

"It is a proven concept in other European cities and measures such as dedicated lanes, traffic light priority and limited stops will make Sprint journeys a fast and reliable alternative to the car."

The proposal includes 16 new stops along the route from Colmore Row in Birmingham to Ridgeway Avenue and Hagley Road West in Quinton.

There will be public consultations from noon to 6pm on Victoria Square on August 12 and outside Marks & Spencer on High Street on September 6 between 9am 3pm. People can give their views by filling in a questionnaire online at www.centro.org.uk by September 21.

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