Construction work has begun on bus lane and other priority infrastructure on the A45 in the West Midlands to support the £88m first phase of the Sprint bus rapid transit (BRT) network. It is taking place on Small Heath Highway in Birmingham and will be followed by work in Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall later in 2021.
The first Sprint route, to run between Solihull and Walsall via Birmingham city centre, is due to be ready in time for the Commonwealth Games, which begin on 28 July 2022. After that, additional priority measures will be delivered on the route to further improve journey times.
Speeding buses and removing them from existing pinch points will deliver more predictable journey times, says Transport for West Midlands (TfWM). High-quality shelters will also be introduced along the route.
National Express West Midlands will operate the first Sprint route, initially with a fleet of zero-emission double-deckers, including 20 hydrogen fuel cell-electric Wrightbus StreetDeck FCEV models ordered by Birmingham City Council.
TfWM has previously outlined an aspiration for the Sprint network to be operated with “tram style” zero-emission articulated single-deck vehicles from 2023. In January, it said that it was working with NXWM to confirm those plans.
Ultimately, TfWM envisages that Sprint will be made up a network of seven bus priority corridors.