Government fund aims to encourage public transport use

Local authorities are to share £560m in funding aimed at developing sustainable transport projects that will help create economic growth and reduce carbon emissions.

Full details of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund are published today in a government white paper entitled Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon, which aims to encourage greater use of public transport and more walking and cycling.

According to a DfT statement, the strategy sets out a vision for local solutions that will have a national impact, such as cutting red tape for councils while cutting carbon.

Similarly, people are to be given more power over initiating transport schemes in their own areas to better meet local needs.

So-called ‘Wheels 2 Work’ schemes already exist in parts of England to help people in rural communities access personal transport.

Norman Baker, regional and local transport minister, said: ‘A good transport system is vital in our efforts to deliver two key government priorities: to help grow the economy and to reduce carbon emissions. Investment in local sustainable transport can deliver quick gains with both objectives.’

Reacting to today’s government white paper, Tom Foulkes, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), said: ‘The availability of a pot where local authorities can bid for funding for their own sustainable transport projects is a positive step – however £560m won’t go far across 300 local authorities, especially in the context of the hefty cuts already made to local authority capital budgets.

‘Empowering local authorities to make their own decisions on transport schemes must go hand in hand with a sufficient stream of funding.

‘Given the limited size of the fund, government must ensure that the right bids are being approved – such as those which will benefit communities most in need of local transport improvements and those which will further social, economic and environmental goals, both locally and nationally.’