A new visitor and transport information system was launched in Birmingham, Wednesday October 17 to make it easier for people to find and make their way around the city centre. Interconnect Birmingham, a joint project by transport authority Centro, Marketing Birmingham, Birmingham City Council, Colmore Business District and Retail Birmingham, is set to become the most comprehensive system of its kind in the UK.
It features new direction signs and information points providing maps of key destinations and attractions together with integrated information for walking, cycling, bus, tram and train services.
The system has been designed for use with on-street signs, websites, mobile apps and printed maps and guides.
Launching the first phase of the system, Centro Chairman, Cllr John McNicholas, said: “Having clear directions and travel information can make a big difference to someone’s experience of visiting the city.
“It’s extremely important for people to have concise information about the sustainable transport options on offer as well as the best routes for getting around the city whether that be by foot, bike, bus, tram or train.
“That’s why this new system is good news not just for visitors but also for local residents and it can serve as a template for similar bespoke systems in other towns and cities across the West Midlands.”
Tim Manson, Operations Director for Marketing Birmingham, added: “Marketing Birmingham is pleased to be a key partner in Interconnect Birmingham.
“The iconic totems will inform and enhance the visitor journey, integrating public transport information with the walking network throughout Birmingham.
“We believe that Interconnect Birmingham will help both leisure and business visitors get the most from any visit to Birmingham.”
The Interconnect Birmingham system is part of the city council’s Big City Plan and will serve as the ‘glue’ in linking together more than £755 million of new transport infrastructure being built under Vision for Movement, a joint private and public sector transport blueprint aimed at underpinning economic growth and job creation.
Work is progressing on the £600 million rebuild of New Street Station as well as the £127 million Metro tram extension which will connect the station to Snow Hill. Both projects are due for completion in 2015.
A £14 million upgrade of the city centre’s bus network is also underway with the creation of six new interchanges designed to streamline services and reduce traffic congestion.
Interconnect Birmingham’s on-street information totems share the same design and mapping information as the onward journey totems installed at the city’s new bus stops and together form a common system of wayfinding around the city.
The totems will also complement the forthcoming infrastructure of the Metro extension.
Cllr Tahir Ali, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Development, Jobs and Skills, said: “Having accessible, joined-up information is key to both business and tourism and will help people get the most out of visits to the city. This is particularly important with the major development work taking place, including the Metro extension and improvements to New Street Station.”
Gary Cardin, Chair of Colmore Business District, added: “Businesses have supported our ambition to have comprehensive, high quality and legible wayfinding systems, to help clients and visitors get to their destinations efficiently and clearly. We are delighted that this significant partnership project is providing just that.
“Colmore Business District has always wanted to be a lead in this project and the new totems are now on street. This gives business visitors, tourists and others a better understanding of the city, so that they can explore it more easily. It will also ensure we remain a welcoming place, encouraging businesses and visitors to walk around our city and make the most of what we have to offer. Judging by the number of people already using the maps it is a successful addition to the city.”
Jonathan Cheetham, Chair of Retail Birmingham and General Manager of The Pallasades, said: “Having a cohesive wayfinding system in place is essential at such a pivotal time for the city, with massive development projects underway, including the redevelopment of the major transport hub at New Street Station.
“We are proud to unveil this state-of-the-art system, which will enable shoppers and visitors to easily navigate and make the very most of the world-class shopping on offer within the city centre.”
Funding for the first phase of Interconnect Birmingham came from all of the project partners and through the Investing in the City Region ERDF project managed by Marketing Birmingham.
The system will be rolled out to surrounding districts such as The Jewellery Quarter and Southside in a second phase starting next year.