Birmingham Sprint rapid transit to be fast-tracked for Commonwealth Games

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New £279m bus rapid transit network expected to carry 23 million passengers annually

Three rapid transit Sprint bus routes are being fast-tracked into construction to be ready for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Birmingham Mail reported.

Plans for a £279m Sprint Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network have been discussed for five years and were included in the long-term Birmingham Connected plan in 2014, though no progress had been made to deliver it.

The three new routes are:

• Birmingham to Walsall along the A34 – passing the Alexander Stadium and athletes village at Perry Barr;

• Birmingham to Solihull along the A45 – passing the Games venues at the NEC site; and

• Birmingham to Sutton Coldfield town centre, via Tyburn Road – linking to the new housing and industrial developments at Langley and Peddimore.

Meanwhile, further routes linking Birmingham city centre to Dudley and Halesowen, via Hagley Road, to Longbridge via Bristol Road and an extension to Hall Green are expected to be completed as scheduled by the time the HS2 rail line opens in 2026.

Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands are behind the project.

A report to the council said the full network would have 75 miles of Sprint routes, which it expects to carry up to 23 million passengers a year. It will use 80 new vehicles, which ‘will often be’ articulated buses with multiple entrances. They will be specified with air-conditioning, next-stop audio-visual announcements and WiFi, with live arrival information provided at new bus stops. The council claims the segregated street the vehicles will run on will save two million commuter hours a year, thanks to a 20% shortening of journey times.

Birmingham Cabinet Member for Roads, Stewart Stacey, said: “Everyone’s wondering where Sprint has been. It’s been got out, the garage doors have been flung open by the achievement of winning the Commonwealth Games. Sprint is part of our strategy for moving people about for the Games.

“The three routes which are essential to the Commonwealth Games are going to be done first.”he report added that some parts of the routes will see parking spaces and laybys removed, changes at junctions, fresh parking restrictions, road widening and in rare cases could involve compulsory purchase orders and demolition of buildings.