Regional transport bosses have today issued updated plans for the first Sprint rapid bus routes in the West Midlands.
The publication of proposed changes to the A34 Birmingham to Walsall, Sutton Coldfield to Birmingham via Langley and A45 Birmingham to Solihull routes honours the commitment made following last year’s consultation.
The new rapid bus service will offer passengers more reliable journey times due to dedicated lanes, priority at busy junctions and multi-door boarding.
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), is developing Sprint as part of a wider investment in road, rail, bus, tram and cycling infrastructure designed to ease congestion, keep the region moving and drive economic growth.
A number of concerns and issues were raised during consultation last year and have been addressed in these proposals.
Significant changes include the retention of most and possibly all parking bays outside homes and businesses on the A34 Walsall Road between the One Stop Shopping Centre and Scott Arms, as well as proposals to ease congestion at the busy Scott Arms junction.
The development of a park and ride facility on the A34 is now being progressed and this will be a game changer in making public transport a better option.
There will be a delay on the introduction of a Sprint route to Sutton Coldfield town centre, which will now commence after 2022 as the Langley and Peddimore developments progress and the final routing confirmed. Bus priority will still be introduced for existing bus services for 2022.
There is also a pledge to minimise loss of green space or replace any trees or greenery lost on all routes.
Thousands engaged with the public consultation and a majority were supportive of the Sprint programme. However a number of concerns were raised and suggestions made which have now been looked at in detail and the plans revised.
Laura Shoaf, managing director of TfWM, said: “We listened to people who responded to our consultation and promised to look at the issues raised. As a result we have come up with these revised plans for our Sprint programme.
“The proposed loss of parking spaces was a key concern for residents and the A34 Safety Action Group, so I am pleased that on the A34 we have be able to develop two design options under which parking bays on Walsall Road can be retained while ensuring that Sprint can continue to deliver benefits to passengers.
“Sprint is a modern bus service that will be extremely reliable so passengers can be sure when their bus will depart and arrive at its destination. Currently there are wide variations in bus journey times which puts people off.”
Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Birmingham City Council, said: “I have always been clear that the future of transport in Birmingham is about the movement of people rather than cars and Sprint will have a hugely important role to play in this, increasing the public transport options on offer and helping to reduce congestion which, in turn, will help reduce polluting vehicle emissions.
“Having met with concerned residents and community groups myself and having passed on their views to Transport for West Midlands, I am pleased that these comments have been taken on board in these revised new proposals.”
The plans will now be refined and there will be ongoing engagement with residents and businesses as they evolve.
A34 Birmingham to Walsall
- Majority of parking between Perry Barr and Scott Arms will be retained. Two options to achieve this will now be explored
- Highway widening into verges and central reserve to allow for parking to be preserved while including bus priority lane
- Create bus priority lane from general traffic lane. Traffic modelling work will be carried out to determine viability of this
- Three options to reduce congestion at Scott Arms junction will be looked at in conjunction with local highways authorities. These include re-phasing traffic lights and road widening to address pinch points.
- Designs for Tower Hill and the Walstead Road/Bell Lane junctions will be revised
- Pledge to retain parking where viable on Ablewell Street in Walsall Town Centre
- Darwall Street has been confirmed as location for the Walsall Town Centre stop
- Work will continue with Birmingham City Council to identify potential cycle lanes – but this is dependent on final design for Walsall Road
- The route will be delivered by 2022
- Significant progress has been made with plans to deliver a strategic park and ride site on the route. A concept design proposal has been produced and we are now in positive dialogue with landowners in a preferred location
Sutton Coldfield to Birmingham via Langley (SBL)
- SBL scheme to be split into two phases
- First phase will see Lancaster Circus to Eachelhurst Road next to Pype Hayes Park section completed by 2022, to benefit existing bus services
- Second phase around the new Langley and Peddimore developments on the edge of Walmley and on to Sutton Coldfield town centre will be developed later to support introduction of Sprint. This will follow a wider review of bus services in east Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield
- Parking restrictions will be implemented on Riland Road, Rectory Road, Carhampton Road and Churchill Road, with some amendments to the design taking place in order to mitigate the loss of spaces. Proposal for access restrictions on Riland Road are under review
- Possible widening of railway bridge in Eachelhurst Road/Walmley Ash Road to be looked at ahead of second phase design
A45 Birmingham to Solihull
- Pledge to minimise loss of green space or replace any trees or greenery lost
- Changes to the design near Hobs Moat Road
- The route will be delivered by 2022