UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced £5 billion of new funding to overhaul bus and cycle links for every region outside London.
This includes introducing 4,000 new zero-emission buses to speed up progress on the government’s net zero ambitions.
Prime Minister Johnson said: “Local transport connections have a truly transformative role to play in levelling up infrastructure across the country.
“Our daily journeys for work or leisure are about so much more than just getting from A to B, they are the key to accessing skilled jobs and opportunities, boosting businesses and unlocking economic growth for towns, cities and regions across this country.”
The investment plans to boost bus services by focusing on a range of priorities over the next five years, including:
- Higher frequency services, including for evenings and weekends, to make it easier for people to get around at any time of day.
- More ‘turn up and go’ routes where thanks to higher frequency, people won’t have to rely on timetables to plan journeys.
- New priority schemes which will make routes more efficient, so that buses avoid congested routes and can speed passengers through traffic; and
- More affordable and simpler fares.
Full details of the programme are set to be announced in the government’s upcoming National Bus Strategy later this year, and follows the allocation of £170 million last week to support more regional transport.
As part of the £170 million scheme–which is separate from the £5 billion announced this week–local authorities can apply to receive up to £50 million to pay for a fleet of electric buses to create the UK’s first all-electric bus town.
Along with the new bus schemes, cycle routes are also set for a boost with over 250 miles of new segregated routes and safe junctions to be constructed in towns and cities across England.
Dozens of new ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes will be taken forward to transform town centres across the country to make them safer to get around.
Cycling advocates have criticised the announcement, however, claiming the £350 million allocated falls short of what is required.
Paul Tuohy, chief executive, Cycling UK, told Cities Today: “We’re hugely disappointed to find that from a £5 billion fund for ‘buses and bikes’ there’s only a mere £350 million for cycling. Two-hundred and fifty miles of segregated cycle lanes across England is a drop in the ocean, especially when Manchester plans more than 1,800 miles of lanes.”
Cycling UK estimates that £6 billion is needed over the next five years to bring the country’s cycling infrastructure up the scratch.