Plans to transform Birmingham's public transport network in the run up to the 2022 Commonwealth Games have been revealed.
Transport for West Midlands have confirmed that three rapid Sprint bus routes will be created and are to consult residents an commuters over the next month.
The three routes, which will all start in Birmingham Moor Street bus mall, are:
- Birmingham City Centre to Birmingham Airport and Solihull (A45)
- Birmingham City Centre through Sandwell to Walsall (A34)
- Birmingham City Centre to Sutton Coldfield via Pype Hayes and the new Langley housing development
Sprint services use tram-style buses running on segregated lanes through busy areas to provide fast, reliable journeys.
There will be seven routes by 2026 but three of those are now being brought forward so they are in place for the Games.
These first routes will ready to ferry visitors between key venues like the Alexander Stadium and athletes village, and the NEC.
Details of the routes and where the Sprint services will stop have now been issued by the West Midlands Combined Authority and commuters are being urged to view them and have their say.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “Sprint will work in tandem with the new suburban rail lines and Metro tram routes we are building, creating a transport network that can grow our economy, give people cleaner air and squeeze the maximum benefit possible from HS2.
“But Sprint can also help make the Games a success which is why we are accelerating three of the routes. I would urge people to have their say on these plans and help showcase our region to the world and shape our future transport system.”
Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward, added: “The arrival of Sprint will undoubtedly act as a catalyst for regeneration and inclusive growth in the West Midlands, offering improved access to jobs and opportunities including those provided by HS2, Birmingham’s Big City Plan, and other major employers in the region.
"Sprint will offer an attractive, viable alternative for car drivers and, as we continue to tackle the pressing issue of air pollution, this exciting project will help to significantly reduce the number of cars on our roads, improving air quality in our region."
Mr Street and councillor Ward were joined by Birchfield Harrier sprinters Katie Chambers-Brown (U20) and Cassie-Anne Pemberton (U18) to launch the public consultation.
What is Sprint?
According to a report on the new services Sprint offers a 'turn-up-and-go' timetable with journey times and comfort levels that are based on those of light rail systems or trams while maximising the flexibility and lower costs associated with bus technology.
Similar systems already operate in the continent in cities such as Metz, Bergen, Geneva, Barcelona, Luxemburg and Malmo.
Passengers receive a level of service and comfort similar to a tram with off-board ticketing, multiple-door boarding, wheelchair and pushchair access, free wifi, air conditioning and on-board audio visual announcements and travel information.
It will provide fast and dependable journey times using limited stops – around 500m apart – using its own dedicated lane through areas of high congestion. It will also get automatic priority at busy junctions.
Cllr Roger Lawrence said: “In many ways the Sprint vehicles look and feel like a tram especially in the way the seats are orientated and the doors operate.
“It combines the capacity of a tram system but with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus. It is a proven concept in other European cities and we believe it can play a key role in our plans for the Commonwealth Games and the integrated transport system we are building for the future.”
Where can we see the detail?
Details of each individual route and the stops are provided here:
Further information available on the consultation website along with an online survey.
And five exhibitions showing how road lanes, junctions, parking areas will be affected will be taking place over the next few weeks.
Birmingham to Sutton via Langley Route
Saturday September 1 - 9am-3pm - The Parade (near Aldi) Sutton Coldfield B72 1PL
Thursday September 6 - 1pm-7pm - Scott Arms, Sandwell B42 1TQ
Saturday September 15 - 9am-3pm - Mell Square, Solihull B91 3AZ
Wednesday September 19 - 2pm-7pm - Park Street (near Poundland) Walsall Town Centre WS1 1LJ
All Three Routes
Saturday September 22 - 9am-3pm - High Street Birmingham City Centre B4 7SL