UK

Residents views taken on board as Sprint rapid bus plans develop

Regional transport bosses are carefully reviewing their plans for three Sprint rapid bus routes in Birmingham and the West Midlands following consultation feedback.

More than 1,500 people, including residents living near the proposed routes, businesses and regular commuters, responded to the consultation earlier this year.

They were asked for their views on the three proposed routes: A34 Walsall to Birmingham city centre, Sutton Coldfield to Birmingham city centre via the planned neighbourhood at Langley and Peddimore and A45 Solihull and Birmingham Airport to Birmingham city centre.

Around three-quarters of people who responded either partially or wholly supported the introduction of fast, tram-style buses on key commuter routes.

But some respondents also raised concerns some of which will be taken into consideration as the designs develop over the coming months.

Key issues raised were over the loss of parking provision on the A34 and the proposed route through Sutton Coldfield, Langley and Peddimore.

The results of the consultation were published today by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “We would like to thank all members of the public who took the time to respond to our consultation. We are delighted that so many welcomed our plans for a modern and reliable bus rapid transit system for the West Midlands.

“We also recognise that some residents raised genuine concerns about the introduction of Sprint and are committed to consider alternative designs to see if we can address those understandable concerns.”

The designs will now be reviewed and a further response issued during Spring 2019.

Sprint is designed as a new, modern, high quality and reliable public transport service using tram-style buses on dedicated lanes with priority through junctions.  The low floor, high capacity vehicles feature multiple doors allowing people to quickly board and get off, further improving journey times.

Cllr Waseem Zaffar,  cabinet member for transport and environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “Sprint will play a hugely important role in helping to encourage more people out of cars and onto public transport, which in turn will reduce congestion on our roads as well as polluting vehicle emissions.

“I have been in regular contact with TfWM to ensure that we have a scheme that is not only acceptable to local residents but also meets our objectives of substantially improving Birmingham’s public transport offer, so I am pleased that the Mayor and TfWM are listening to the feedback received during the consultation.”

TfWM is developing Sprint to meet the challenges of traffic congestion and air pollution by providing commuters with a fast, reliable and comfortable service. Consultation, which included a mix of online and paper questionnaires and interviews, took place between August 23 and October 4.

The three routes were originally intended to be introduced by 2026 as part of the HS2 connectivity programme, but have been brought forward to be ready for visitors coming to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

TfWM also consulted over the development of a Sprint route along Hagley Road, the findings of which will be released in due course. This is one of four further Sprint routes being planned for introduction by 2026.

The full report can be downloaded from the TfWM website here with printed copies and alternative formats available upon request via email to sprintenquiries@tfwm.org.uk or by telephone on 0121 214 7321.

Summary of results:

A34 Birmingham to Walsall: 73% of the 574 people who commented on the A34 route either partially or fully supported it. 24% do not support, with the remainder undecided. A petition from the A34 Safety Action Group calling for Sprint to be dropped was signed by 586 people.

Sutton Coldfield to Birmingham: 77% of the 405 people who commented on this route fully or partially supported the plans. 19% were against.

A45 Solihull and Birmingham Airport to Birmingham: 82% of the 424 people who commented on the A45 route fully or partially support of the proposals. 14% were against.

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