Shapps allocates £283m for local services


Transport secretary Grant Shapps made a raft of announcements to boost the local transport sector and build a 'green legacy', including allocating £283m to increase bus and light rail services. 

The funding is split £254m for buses and £29m for trams and light rail and will help protect and increase services. The Department for Transport has not confirmed how the cash will be parcelled out however.

Mr Shapps said: 'To make sure people can travel safely when they need to, we are increasing capacity on buses and light rail, as well as helping local authorities fast-track plans to support cyclists and pedestrians, further reducing pressure on our transport network.

'These measures will help keep passengers safe now, but we must also prepare for what comes next. Strengthening vital road and railway connections, as well as encouraging cycling and walking, will be essential to our ambition to level up the country, secure a green legacy, and kickstart regional economies, as we build out of COVID-19 and look to the future.

'Clean air should be as big a priority for us in the 21st century as clean water was to the Victorians in the 19th.'

He also revealed the government is working with local authorities and private car park owners 'to make it easier for people commuting by car to get closer to their place of work and finish their journey on foot or by bike without the need to take public transport'.

'For those who live too far to cycle and walk, and must drive to major conurbations, we will repurpose parking in places just outside town centres so people can park on the outskirts and finish their journeys on foot or bike or even e-scooter,' he said.

'Our aim with many of these measures is not merely to get through the lifting of restrictions, and then return to how things were. But to come out of this recovery stronger, by permanently changing the way we use transport.'

Plans will focus on developing new schemes at car parks near, but not in, city centres from where drivers could cycle or walk the last miles.

The news comes alongside other recent announcements including £225m for pop-up cycle and walking schemes to reallocate road space away from cars, and £2.5m to provide 1,180 cycle parking spaces at 30 railway stations across England.

Ministers also pledged £25m from the emergency active travel fund to help people get their bikes repaired so that they can get back to cycling.

Mr Shapps said the money would support £50 bicycle maintenance vouchers available from next month, to help 'half-a-million people drag bikes out of retirement'.

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