Tuesday, April 5, 2022

News: Transport funding secured but region left waiting for bus transformation


The Government has confirmed the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority’s (SYMCA's) allocation for transformative investment in the region’s transport network, with Rotherham projects set to benefit.

But ambitions plans for transforming bus services in the region have not been backed by any Government funding. A funding gap was estimated to be between £430 - £474m.

The City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS) investment is on its way and £570m will bring significant improvements to South Yorkshire’s transport system, enabling people to make public transport and walking and cycling their first choice for travel.

The bid detailed that Government backing for the plans will:

- Improve the buses network – giving buses priority on roads, provide better vehicles, stations and stops. It includes significant investment in electric buses and installing charging infrastructure at stations and on streets and depots across South Yorkshire to move towards a zero-emission fleet
- Deliver better active travel routes, so people can leave their cars at home for short journeys, by building more than 600 miles of new cycle lanes across the region
- Invest in tram, securing the first phase of investment in the renewal of Supertram
- Build and improve stations and platforms at the region’s rail stations
- Ease congestion, build new junctions and repair potholes on South Yorkshire’s roads.

To be spent between now and 2027, the settlement consolidates funding from previous allocations of the Highways Maintenance Block, Potholes Fund and Integrated Transport Block. The SYMCA is expected to make a contribution of at least 15-20% of the funding granted for capital enhancements.

£5.375m is also available to work up the schemes to deliver as capital projects and the region will now work with the Government to agree the final schemes and outcomes.

Rotherham schemes on the table include a new station at Waverley and a new mainline station, which is still moving ahead despite being left out of the Integrated Rail Plan for the North and Midlands (IRP).

The funding is also expected to be invested in tram services, securing the first phase of investment in the renewal of Supertram.

The SYMCA has previously discussed asking the Government to foot most of the £439m bill to renew the existing Supertram network.

The Government made the CRSTS announcement at the same time as announcing funds to help regions to deliver Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIP).

South Yorkshire was not on the list.

Here funding would be used to create a faster, more reliable and punctual system, a better bus experience with a zero emission fleet. A cap on daily and weekly fares and free travel for under 18s, plus access to cashless ticketing to create an easy to use system was also included.

Dan Jarvis, outgoing mayor of the SYMCA, said: "We’ve been shafted. We submitted a visionary and detailed bid to transform our bus services; we needed central government to put its money where its mouth is and back our ambition. They have once again failed the travelling public in South Yorkshire.

“The government’s so-called commitment to levelling up – which supposedly has buses at its heart – is nothing more than an empty promise."

SYMCA website

Images: SYMCA


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