Local transport schemes get £854m go-ahead

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BRT and bus priority measures feature strongly in latest government capital investment funding round

Transport secretary Justine Greening announced £854m worth of investment in 21 local transport schemes across England last week, five of which include park and ride, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or bus priority schemes.

This is in addition to the 20 schemes, worth £574m, which were announced in the Autumn Statement at the end of last month.

The schemes which have received the green light include:

  • Bath Transportation Package – which comprises park and ride site expansions and bus priority measures plus improvements to local bus stops. (£11.7m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £28.6m);
  • Elmbridge Transport (Gloucester) – a package of improvements including new Park and Ride site between Cheltenham and Gloucester (£14.1m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £16.5m);
  • North Fringe to Hengrove BRT in Bristol – a BRT scheme from the north of the city, including Bristol Parkway, via the city centre to Hengrove in the South (£51.1m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £92.9m);
  • Bus enhancements in Blackburn and East Lancashire including bus priority measures. (£31.9m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £39.8m); and
  • South Yorkshire BRT Phase 1 (Sheffield/Rotherham) – new BRT from Sheffield along the Don Valley toward Rotherham including a new road link under the M1 (the Tinsley link). (£19.4m DfT contribution towards a total cost of £34.3m).

Projects which will now be considered by the DfT in the spring include the Leeds New Generation Transport trolley bus scheme, a proposal by Metro and Leeds City Council which evolved from cancellation of funding for a tram scheme in Leeds. The department said it “has not yet been provided with sufficient evidence with which to assess the value for money of this scheme, as some of the data is relatively new and cannot yet be verified”. However, recognising a “strong strategic case has been made” it has given the promoters until March 31, 2012 to update their business case and a decision will be made within two months of that date.

Likewise, the DfT has asked promoters of SERT (South Essex Rapid Transit) to update their business case by the same deadline.

“Transport infrastructure is central to growth, and I am announcing funding for a further 21 local major transport schemes,” said Greening. “Along with the schemes announced last month we’ve supported investment of over £1.4bn which will strengthen local economies and improve local transport links for communities across the country.

“Almost all journeys begin and end on local authority networks, which provide the crucial links allowing people and businesses to prosper. We are investing in schemes which will provide better access to jobs and services, reduce congestion and enable more goods to move more easily around our country. This will be £1.4bn invested in local communities to build the transport system we need to get the economy back on track.”