Stoke-on-Trent City Council awarded £29m to transform travel in the city

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First Potteries has committed to investing in 15 new buses for its operation once supporting road infrastructure is completed with the money from the Transforming Cities Fund

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been awarded £29 million following a successful bid to the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund. It will fund an overall package of works expected to be around £36 million once funding from the council and other partners is included. At the heart of the scheme are improvements to public transport, cycling and walking in the city and creating a better connection between the railway station, city centre and key employment sites across the area.

There will be an ‘eye-catching’ revamp of the area around Stoke-on-Trent railway station, where a brand-new transport hub is to be created that will offer local commuters and visitors to the city better access to taxis, buses and cycling, while also improving walking routes to and from the station. Two large, weather-proof canopies will be installed on Station Road to provide passengers and pedestrians with shelter, along with an expanded pedestrian area at the entrance to the station and enhanced bus stops. The road will also be made a no-through route past the station to make it more pedestrian-friendly, except for buses and access to existing businesses.

Bus passengers will benefit from the funding, enjoying cross-city priority routes for the first time as part of plans to cut congestion and journey times on the city’s roads. Funding from the pot will be used to tackle bottlenecks on the highway network and introduce bus lanes and bus priority at traffic signals, as well as improvements to the city centre bus station. Four new cross-city routes will be introduced in the first phase that will directly link the city centre and railway station to wider employment areas including Longton, Burslem, Tunstall, Royal Stoke University Hospital and Trentham Lakes.

Some of the other projects that will be carried out as part of the funding include:

  • Bus corridors: Junction improvements at key bus delay hotspots in the city (£1.2 million)
  • City centre bus station: Improvements to the bus station to cater for through services and passenger interchange (£1.4 million)
  • A commitment by First Bus to purchase up to 15 new Euro VI buses once supporting road infrastructure work is completed (£3.5 million)

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “The Transforming Cities Fund allows cities across the UK to better connect their communities and open up access to jobs, housing and services, and this multi-million-pound investment will make it quicker and easier to get around Stoke-on-Trent, providing a real improvement to the everyday lives of residents.”

The funding announcement follows on from the city council’s successful bid which secured £5.6 million from the Department for Transport in its first round of Transforming Cities Fund last year. It means the combined Government and local match funding for Transforming Cities Fund phase one and two totals around £41 million worth of investment into the city.

Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “This announcement is great news and a real game changer for transport and connectivity in the city. The investment is coming at a critical time as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and power up Stoke-on-Trent for years to come, and it will give the city a real shot in the arm. It’s very encouraging that the Government are supporting what we are trying to achieve in the city and it’s a real endorsement for the future of Stoke-on-Trent at a national level that we have been given this money.

“This is not just about improving the look and feel of Stoke-on-Trent station but revamping public transport in general, particularly bus travel, and making sure the station connects with the city centre and key sites in the city.

We’re committed to improving public transport and sustainable travel in the city and this funding will deliver many worthwhile schemes across the city, including the reintroduction of cross-city bus services, so it’s great news for passengers.”

 

Further new buses are to join the First Potteries fleet. RICHARD SHARMAN