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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.

CGI of Sprint on the A45 Small Heath Highway
CGI of Sprint on the A45 Small Heath Highway

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.

TfWM has identified the following areas for further review:

A34

Issue identified

We Commit To

Parking and property access for residents and businesses.

Review parking and access issues for businesses and residents along the route, and where possible make alternative parking provision available.

Consider alternative designs that may not require some or all of the parking to be removed. 

Safety concerns for residents whose driveways are adjacent to the route.

Undertake a Road Safety Audit as part of the detailed design phase and use the findings to review the design. This would happen as a standard practice.

Environmental impact of changes to the use of highway space as a result of creating a dedicated BRT lane alongside properties.

Undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment as part of the detailed design. This would happen as a standard practice.

Potential congestion at pinch-points such as the Scott Arms

Investigate options to provide enhanced bus reliability at all junctions. At Scott Arms we will look for a solution that does not adversely impact traffic north to south or east to west.

Need for Park and Ride facilities for Sprint users to park at.

Identify possible sites for Park and Ride facilities along the Sprint route and develop business case for these sites.

 

A38 

Issue identified

We Commit To

Concerns have been raised about the section of the route between the Tyburn Road and Langley and Peddimore areas and the route between Langley and Peddimore and Sutton Coldfield Town Centre.  

Develop new options for the scheme from Tyburn Road  junction to Langley and Peddimore areas, and from Langley and Peddimore to Sutton Coldfield

 

A45 

Issue identified

We Commit To

Potential impact of the scheme on green spaces specifically the loss of trees in the central reservation on the approach to the Wheatsheaf from Birmingham Airport

Consider ways in which to minimise the impact of the scheme and consider options to mitigate the loss of green space.

 

All Routes 

Issue identified

We Commit To

Need for cycle lanes and other cycling infrastructure alongside Sprint schemes.

Including the integration of cycling infrastructure and facilities on all routes and along the corridors as part of the detailed design subject to business case appraisal, deliverability and necessary road safety audits.

Disruption to residents and businesses during the construction period

Develop comprehensive construction management plans for each route with councils and construction companies, and develop travel alternatives to make sure people who use this route will still be able to travel during the construction