BRT in ‘funding bonanza’
The proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) service in the West Midlands, Sprint, is set to benefit from a ‘multi-billion pound funding bonanza’. It is part of a range of transport schemes worth nearly £2bn, which are being funded by £8bn from the Government as a result of West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA’s) signing of the country’s biggest devolution deal to date with the Government. The agreement will see Whitehall make an annual contribution of £40m for 30 years to support an overall investment package worth £8bn. Other projects to be paid for with the money include the HS2 Connectivity Package, a programme of schemes that will support the HS2 high speed rail project and potential rail service enhancements on the West Midlands West Coast Main Line as capacity becomes freed by HS2.
Chair of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA), Cllr Roger Lawrence, said, ‘This is the biggest devolution deal done to date. It gives the West Midlands the powers and the funding to provide a real step change in our transport infrastructure and supports our wider ambitions to grow the economy, provide new jobs, improved skills and quality housing. This is fantastic news, both for public transport in the West Midlands region but also for freight and other users of the road and rail network. We can put in place schemes to help drive the regional economy forward, tackle pollution and congestion and get people to where they want to go. We will be working closely with the Government to look at ways to reduce congestion on the strategic road network and better manage demand across the key routes network to keep people moving. We will have additional powers on critical issues such as bus franchising, integrated ticketing, safety and air quality ensuring that decisions which have impact on local people are made locally.’