The Midlands’ first bus-based rapid transit system, featuring vehicles that look and operate like a tram but without tracks or overhead cables, could be running by 2016 – and the scheme will be the first in the UK to have bespoke rapid-transit vehicles.

sprint buses

Sprint is being launched by public transport coordinator Centro, which is working in partnership with Birmingham City Council.

This service will follow the No 9 bus route from Birmingham to Quinton, serving Birmingham’s entertainment quarter in Broad Street before proceeding along the Hagley Road.

Cllr John McNicholas, the chairman of Centro, said: “This is a completely new form of public transport in the West Midlands and we want to know what people think about the idea.

“It is a proven concept in other European cities and measures such as dedicated lanes, traffic light priority and limited stops will make Sprint journeys a fast and reliable alternative to the car.”

Sprint will be a fleet of up to nine diesel/electric vehicles whose features will include:

· On-board real time information and ‘next stop’ announcements

· Low-level flooring and multi-door boarding for easy access

· Onboard Wifi

Gary Taylor, Executive Director at Altitude Real Estate, said:

“This is great news and is in direct support of BID’s plans for better connectivity for the Broad Street area. The timescales run in close parallel to the planned development of Paradise Forum which in itself will provide much improved pedestrian connectivity.”

The scheme will cost £15 million and is funded through Centro and by the government via Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP.

Subject to final approval by the LEP later this year construction could start in 2015, with Sprint going live 18 months later.

You can give your views on Sprint by filling in a questionnaire online at www.centro.org.uk by September 21st.

There will also two public exhibitions:

· Tuesday August 12th, 12 noon-6pm, Victoria Square, Birmingham city centre

· Saturday September 6th, 9am-3pm, outside Marks & Spencer, High Street, Birmingham city centre