The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board will be asked to approve the £88m funding and delivery schedule for Sprint, which will be Birmingham’s first uninterrupted cross-city bus route and offer commuters and Birmingham 2022 visitors services to key Games venues. Commuters will also benefit from the introduction of priority signalling, extended bus lanes and swift boarding to improve journey times and reliability across the route.
Following customer feedback from a prototype test, improved bus shelters along the route will include CCTV for passenger safety, comfortable seating and real-time journey information. Changes in stop layouts and off-bus ticketing will also speed up the boarding process reducing time spent at each stop compared to conventional buses.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) says that the region is growing rapidly and TfWM’s aim is to build confidence in public transport and make it a viable option for travel, 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.
Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “The first phase of the Sprint scheme will see the introduction of a brand-new, cross-city service running in time to ferry thousands of visitors around the region for the Commonwealth Games. The scheme is also a key part of our transport revolution which is, after decades of under-investment, delivering new bus, rail, Metro and cycle schemes to serve the people of the West Midlands for generations to come.
“Pending approval of the business case at the WMCA board, we can get on with delivering yet another transport scheme the West Midlands can be proud of.”
Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The eyes of the world will be on Birmingham and the West Midlands during 2022 so I am delighted that we will have this efficient new Sprint bus service to move people around and showcase the best our region has to offer.
“Sprint is also part of our wider plans to transform the way we travel. Through enhancing bus shelters and providing priority for Sprint and other existing services, we are offering people a reliable and sustainable alternative to the car when travelling around Birmingham. It’s all part of our commitment to tackling road congestion and climate change.”
Additional work on the route will take place following the Commonwealth Games to further enhance the service. The full business case was presented to the WMCA Board on 14 February.