National Express West Midlands (NXWM) is to operate the Sprint bus rapid transit (BRT) service between Walsall and Solihull via Birmingham city centre from May 2022. It will initially use a fleet of zero-emission double-deckers. Those vehicles will include the 20 hydrogen fuel cell-electric Wrightbus StreetDeck FCEV examples ordered by Birmingham City Council in 2020.
All the double-deckers used will be to NXWM’s Platinum specification. Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is now working with NXWM to confirm plans to introduce zero-emission “tram-style” articulated buses to the service during 2023, it says.
Proposals for the wider Sprint BRT network – which in the longer term is planned to encompass seven routes – have long envisaged the use of air-conditioned articulated buses. TfWM says that such vehicles have been well received on BRT services elsewhere in mainland Europe and the UK.
The Sprint corridor will be covered by an enhanced partnership scheme. That will set minimum standards for all bus services along the route. Sprint will utilise bus lanes and priority measures to benefit journey times. 75 high-quality shelters form part of the construction process.
NXWM Managing Director David Bradford recently told the CPT UK Bus and Coach Conference that he wants to see the operator running 500 zero-emission buses when the Commonwealth Games come to Birmingham in July 2022. It has already introduced 29 BYD ADL Enviro400EV battery-electric double-deckers.