Transport for West Midlands today unveiled details of the Sprint bus rapid transit service that will complement Midland Metro by using tram-style bendybuses to provide fast, reliable journeys along up to seven corridors.
TfWM says it is accelerating the development of three routes — all radiating from Birmingham city centre — to ensure that they are operating in time for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the city.
These are to Birmingham Airport and Solihull (A45 serving NEC), Sandwell and Walsall (A34 serving Games Village and Alexander Stadium) and Sutton Coldfield via Langley.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street says: “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.”
Sprint is being developed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), in partnership with local councils including Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall.
Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Ian Ward, who is also West Midlands Combined Authority portfolio holder for economic growth, says: “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.”
TfWM says Sprint will offer passengers 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, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for transport, says: “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.”