£283 million for bus and light rail announced as part of UK transport boost
Posted: 26 May 2020 | Sam Mehmet (Intelligent Transport)
Measures have been announced to increase bus and light rail services across the UK, roll out higher numbers of safety and guidance staff, and to make commuting easier without public transport.
Department for Transport (DfT) funding to protect and increase transport services, level up infrastructure and regenerate local economies after coronavirus (COVID-19) has been announced by UK Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.
£283 million has been made available to increase the number of bus and light rail services as quickly as possible so that people who need to travel can do so safely.
The funding – amounting to £254 million for buses and £29 million for trams and light rail – aims to help protect and increase services, allowing people travelling to hospitals, supermarkets or their place of work to get to their destination safely and quickly, while helping ensure there is enough space for them to observe social distancing guidelines. The funding will be kept under review to ensure that full services can be up and running as quickly as possible.
In addition to the funding, 3,400 people including British Transport Police officers, Network Rail and train operator staff have been deployed at stations to advise passengers and make sure people can follow the guidance put in place. From 1 June 2020 at the earliest, twice that many will start to be deployed with the assistance of groups like the charity Volunteering Matters.
Rail passengers across the country will also now reportedly benefit from a personalised information service to help them stagger their journeys. Passenger Connect from British tech start-up ZipAbout will tell passengers how disruption and crowding may affect their journey, providing alternatives and helping people maintain social distancing when they need to travel. The service has been piloted by National Rail over the last 12 months and aims to support millions of rail users with personalised updates to keep them on the move.
The government is also working with local authorities and private car park owners in a bid 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. Plans will focus on developing new schemes at car parks near, but not in, city centres from where drivers could collect a bike – or use their own – and follow new cycling or walking routes which would be colour coded by distance.
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.”