A new bus priority lane to tackle congestion on the approach into Birmingham city centre was launched today (Monday November 19) as part of an £8m package of highways improvement from Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).
The wider package, which will be carried out between now and 2021, aims to speed up bus journey times across the region and includes bus priority measures at key junctions as well as bus lanes.
The bus lane in Harborne is one of the first schemes in action under a 10-year plan to reduce congestion, drawn up by TfWM which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The scheme, which is being delivered in partnership with Birmingham City Council, will be in place on the city-bound side of Harborne Road between Kinsgcote Road and Highfield Road from 7am to 10am Monday to Saturday before connecting into the existing bus lane on the approach to Five Ways.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “We know we have to use the road network in the West Midlands much more efficiently if we are to tackle our congestion problem.
“One of the ways we can do this is through dedicated bus lanes which mean buses can travel with priority through some of the busiest areas, helping to reduce traffic and pollution.
“The bus lane in Harborne is just one of many improvement measures that TfWM will be putting in place over the next few years to improve our road system.”
The scheme will initially run as a 12 month pilot and follows a public consultation by Birmingham City Council where 77% of respondents supported proposals for the new bus lane.
Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “Bus lanes are an important tool in helping to keep our roads moving, not just in the city centre but in our suburban areas too.
“They cut congestion which means cleaner air and quicker journey times for those who choose to travel by bus, providing an even greater incentive for people to leave their cars at home and take the bus instead.”
The bus lane scheme compliments a £10m investment by National Express West Midlands in its bus fleet earlier this year.
Brand new, top-spec ‘Platinum’ buses will travel the 23/24 route every eight minutes using the new bus lane, which could become a permanent fixture if it improves journey times overall.
David Bradford, managing director of National Express West Midlands, said: “These beautiful new Platinum double deckers are all kitted out with comfy seats, extra leg room, free wifi and USB chargers. Announcements before every stop also tell you when you’ve arrived at your destination.
“As well as being good news for bus passengers, these new Platinum buses are good news for the environment. All 38 vehicles are being fitted with smart hybrid engines. Smart hybrids emit extremely low levels of nitrogen oxide, which is bad for people’s lungs.”
Further transport improvements are set to arrive in the West Midlands later this year when TfWM introduces real-time journey planning to all bus routes.
Using live departure information, recorded every five minutes from every bus stop in the West Midlands, passengers will be able track their bus as it makes its way across the region, giving them complete control over their journey.
For more information on the pilot please visit: www.networkwestmidlands.com/PlatinumLane
Residents, businesses and bus users can comment on the bus lane at any time during the first six months of the trial by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org