English city regions will receive billions of pounds to improve public transport in next week’s budget.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will allocate £ 6.9 billion to train, tram, bus and bicycle projects when he presents his spending plans on Wednesday.
Greater Manchester, West Midlands and West Yorkshire are among the regions that will benefit from it.
The funding was hailed by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham as “an important first step”.
Earlier this month, it launched a £ 1 billion bid to create a London-style transport network for the region.
Areas intended to receive funding include:
- Great Manchester (£ 1.07 billion): for next generation Metrolink tram-train vehicles; new bus corridors in Bury and Ashton-under-Lyme
- West Midlands (£ 1.05bn): for projects including tube extension, including completion of the extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill
- West Yorkshire (£ 830m): extension of West Bradford-Cycle Superhighway and installation of electric vehicle charging stations in Kirklees neighborhoods
- Liverpool city region (£ 710 million): for the new and refurbished Liverpool and Runcorn stations, as well as an interchange project in St Helens
- South Yorkshire (£ 570 million): start of a Supertram refurbishment project and installation of a ‘Dutch-style’ roundabout in the center of Barnsley
- West of England (£ 540 million): A full priority bus route between Bristol and Bath
- Tees Valley (£ 310 million): upgrading of Darlington and Middlesbrough train stations and improved rail links in the region
Sunak said: “There is no reason someone working in the North and Midlands has to wait many times longer for their bus or train to arrive in the morning than a commuter in the capital.
“This transportation revolution will help correct this imbalance as we modernize our local transportation networks to suit our big cities and those people who live and work in them.”
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also receive extra funding through the Barnett formula, a mechanism the UK government uses to allocate additional money to donated nations when it spends the most in England.
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The £ 5.7 billion is a five-year deal and has been raised from the initial £ 4.2 billion proposed, the Treasury said.
The £ 1.2 billion funding to make bus services cheaper and more frequent is part of the £ 3 billion Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to spend on a “bus revolution” in March.
Labor’s Andy Burnham said the money was “an important first step towards a London-style public transport system for Greater Manchester.”
But he added: “As welcome as it is, infrastructure investments alone will not make the level rise seem real for the people of Greater Manchester.
“This will only happen when the frequency and coverage of bus services are increased and fares are lowered to London levels,” Burnham added.
Andy Street, a conservative mayor of the West Midlands, said he was “absolutely delighted” to get the funding, which he says is the largest single transport sum the area has ever received.
“From more subway lines and train stations, to new bus lines and charging points for electric vehicles, this money will help us continue to build a clean and green transportation network that connects communities and addresses the climate emergency.”
“Holes in services”
Silviya Barrett, head of policy and research at the Campaign for Better Transport, welcomed the increase in funding for trams, trains and “active travel”, but wanted the government to end the process of competing regions. for bus financing.
“We are concerned that the competitive financing process for buses may mean that investments do not reach everything that needs them.
“Many areas have too high bus fares and holes in services, so they need funds to put their bus service improvement plans in place,” Ms Barrett said.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents the bus and coach industry, said that the fact that the £ 3 billion the government pledged to spend on buses had not yet been achieved means that the “rhetoric of the unfortunately the government is not reflected in reality “.
It comes when a new survey shows that car addiction has peaked in 15 years despite fewer people commuting during the pandemic.
More than four in five (82%) of the 2,652 British motorists surveyed by the automobile organization RAC said they would have a hard time without a car. This is up from 79% in 2020 and from 74% the previous year.
More than half said there were no viable public transport services in their area.
And people living in cities that have to drive spend more time behind the wheel, according to research from the Center for Cities, which found that drivers in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester spend more than 50 hours a year stuck in traffic.
Drivers in rural areas were also more likely to be dependent on the car (87%) than their urban counterparts (77%).
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