Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said that public transport featured heavily in plans for Birmingham 2022 as part of a "commitment to a clean Games" ©Birmingham 2022

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has insisted here that the region's public transport infrastructure is "very ready" to cope with an influx of visitors for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Public transport has featured heavily in organisers' plans for the Games, with the cost of travel by bus, train or tram within the West Midlands on the day of events included as part of spectators' tickets.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has also introduced a scheme enabling over 16s to hire bikes for two 30-minute rides each day between July 27 and August 8 free of charge, and introduced 60,000 free park and ride spaces to improve access to various venues.

Street, who was re-elected as Mayor for the region last year, told insidethegames that he believes the West Midlands is well-equipped to manage what has been billed as the biggest event it has ever hosted.

"We're very ready," he said.

"We think there's 1.2 million tickets sold, and we hope everyone will travel to the venue by public transport.

"That was the mission so that we could achieve a sustainable Games.

"There is the control centre [Regional Transport Coordination Centre], who have eyes on everything, so we've completed all the infrastructure we said we would get ready.

"We have thought about the strengthening of our services.

"We've dealt with the Games route network, we've dealt with all of the detailed plans around each venue, so yes we are ready."

Mayor of the West Midlands and West Midlands Combined Authority chair Andy Street said that the region is
Mayor of the West Midlands and West Midlands Combined Authority chair Andy Street said that the region is "well set" to host the Commonwealth Games ©WMCA

TfWM executive director Anne Shaw concurred, outlining the planning that has gone into transport initiatives for the Commonwealth Games.

"I think we're as ready as we can be," Shaw told insidethegames.

"There's a lot of time that's gone in, a lot of planning over the last four years in terms of what the transport requirements are for this Games, so we've got a few challenges that we know about as well, and we've been planning around those to make sure that we've got the resilience in the whole transport system to make sure that people can get to all of the events."

Street explained that public transport's importance came in reducing the Games' carbon footprint.

"It's a commitment to sustainability, a commitment to a clean Games, all of those things, that's what it's about, and of course if everyone is on public transport, not jumping in their cars causing congestion, it will make the whole operate much more freely," he said.

Several development initiatives have been undertaken to upgrade the West Midlands' transport networks for Birmingham 2022, and Shaw believes that the Commonwealth Games has proved a catalyst for improvements in the region.

"I think the Games has had a really positive impact on our transport network," she argued.

"Obviously we had a number of projects that are completed.

"Perry Barr station has opened, we'll see some improvements for capacity at University station although that station was not planned to be completely open for the Games, we've got the tram network that's now open through to Edgbaston, so through Broad Street and Birmingham city centre, and we've also been enhancing our road network, so we've finished bus rapid transit sprint.

"We've got a good number of sprint routes and bus lanes that will help all of our bus movements along the A34 and the A45 as well, so that will really help the transport system work efficiently.

"So I think overall we've done as much as we can to make sure that the transport system can be optimised and managed from here at the Regional Transport Coordination Centre, and of course that's a massive legacy for us beyond the Games as well because we'll have all that resilience in our transport system."

The Regional Transport Coordination Centre was billed by TfWM executive director Anne Shaw as
The Regional Transport Coordination Centre was billed by TfWM executive director Anne Shaw as "a massive legacy for us beyond the Games" ©ITG

The Regional Transport Coordination Centre is based in Birmingham, and brings together transport providers and other relevant bodies - including Birmingham 2022 for - to enable disruptions to be managed and communicated to users.

It is described by Shaw as "the beating heart of the whole transport operation".

Street acknowledged that hosting the Games brings high expectations for the region, but claimed that it is well placed to stage the multi-sport event.

"I'm excited, I feel very responsible, I feel very privileged," he said.

"The first international sports competition with full stadia here, it's going to be truly brilliant, so it's a wonderful opportunity for us to show the world what a wonderful welcoming place this is.

"With that opportunity does go responsibility to put on a great show, but we're well set."

The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are due to be held from July 28 until August 8, with around 4,500 athletes expected from 72 nations and territories.