West Midlands tram plans branded 'multi-modal mix up'

News of four new tram routes in the West Midlands including Hagley Road got a mixed response from residents.

The West Midlands Metro
The West Midlands Metro

Some said the transport system in the region lags behind others in the country while others took issue with the centring of trams in new plans rather than free electric bus travel.

The West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA’s) board agreed to put in a bid to the Government’s City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) fund.

The authority is hoping to receive at least £1 billion which would be the largest single amount ever received by the WMCA.

Included in the bid are plans for Metro routes from Wolverhampton to New Cross Hospital, Wednesbury to Walsall and Brierley Hill and Stourbridge.

And it is hoped the Metro can be extended along Hagley Road “as far as the business case will allow”.

There are also a number of other projects included in the bid such as more cycle lanes, electric vehicle charging points, the completion of Coventry Very Light Rail and railway station upgrades.

Tim Weller, an environmental campaigner who at one point was running to be West Midlands Mayor in this year’s election, took a dim view of the tram plans.

He said: “The intention is to take the tram onto Bearwood, along Hagley Road. However, this simply means multi-modal mix up with more changes and delays.

“And, at the most colossal expense in cost and in weight of greenhouse gases at a time of climate and ecological emergencies that WMCA has declared.”

Bus improvement plans put forward by the WMCA include cheaper fares – but Mr Weller said the authority should go further.

He said: “The money should be going for electric buses and fare-free public transport for the young and middle aged, to end that discrimination against them.

“[Buses] will all get tied up and delayed by the trams. Far better to have electric buses directly on roads without the railway tracks needed for the ‘bus on rails’ trams on roads and railways.”

Readers on Facebook had mixed views on the news, with some welcoming the plans and others taking a different position.

Martin Price wrote: “Great news, hopefully we’ll get all the money asked for to improve all kinds of transport across the region.”

But Andrew Nelson wrote: “We are miles behind other major cities in this country – transport system in Birmingham is dreadful.”

Lee Rutter replied: “Really? I am not sure I’ve ever heard anywhere outside of London, celebrating how great their public transport is.”

Graham Densley wrote: “Hagley Road is a nightmare at the best of times, slamming a tram route in as well will cause chaos.

Some drew a link with the works to rebuild the tram track in Corporation Street – five years after the tracks were laid.

David Wootton posted: “Hope they can actually lay the track without ripping it up after five years.”

Merfyn Griffiths wrote: “Why don’t they sort out the mess in the city centre first?”

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