Trudy Harrison – 2022 Statement on Local Transport Funding

The statement made by Trudy Harrison, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons on 19 April 2022.

My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) made the following ministerial statement on 4 April.

Today I can update the House on three major transport investments we are making across England over the coming months, marking a significant milestone in our mission to deliver cheaper and better transport services across the country.

In our national bus strategy “Bus Back Better” published last year, we set out our plan to delivery better and cheaper bus services for passengers. The strategy acknowledged that while there are pockets of good bus performance outside London, far too many places still do not get the same service levels seen in the capital.

Today’s announcements, along with the funding of zero emission buses, and the bus elements of the increased city region sustainable transport settlements, form part of the £3 billion for bus transformation announced in 2020. £2 billion has also been paid to bus operators to support services during the pandemic.

We have now chosen a total of 31 counties, city regions and unitary authorities to receive this funding to level up their local bus services.

Our investment will reduce fares, support the cost of living, and create new jobs for people by enhancing bus services and lowering the cost of travel. It will make a significant contribution to our levelling-up mission to bring local public transport connectivity across the country significantly closer to the standards of London.

Including earlier awards, this new funding means that just under two-thirds of England’s population outside London will be benefiting from new investment in their bus services.

The successful areas have been chosen because of their ambition to repeat the success achieved in London—which drove up bus usage and made the bus a natural choice for everyone, not just those without cars. As the Government stated in “Bus Back Better” areas not showing sufficient ambition, including for improvements to bus priority, would not be funded.

We will be writing to all local transport authorities to advise them of the outcome of their proposals and will be offering practical support to those authorities that are not receiving funding on this occasion, as there is still a lot that can be done to level up local bus services and grow bus usage.

As confirmed at the 2021 spending review and Budget, we are investing a total of £5.7 billion to improve local rail networks, tram services, and buses in city regions across England.

The city region sustainable transport settlements are multi-year capital funding settlements to improve the local transport networks of eight city regions across England through five-year settlements from 2022-23. This combines new and existing funds, including highways maintenance, integrated transport block and final year transforming cities fund.

Following the assessment of their business cases, the Government have now confirmed their final settlements. Further work to finalise the full range of schemes to be delivered through these settlements will now take place over the coming months.

This unprecedented investment provides areas with long-term funding certainty to design and deliver transformational programmes.

The money will help deliver, among other things, a new mass transit network in West Yorkshire, major improvements to rail services in the Tees Valley, next generation Metrolink tram-train vehicles in Greater Manchester, the renewal of Supertram in South Yorkshire and bus rapid transit corridors in the West Midlands. Letters have been sent to the metro Mayors outlining the funding.

City regions benefiting from confirmation of the multibillion-pound transport investment are Greater Manchester (£1.07 billion), West Yorkshire (£830 million), South Yorkshire (£570 million), West Midlands (£1.05 billion), Tees Valley (£310 million), West of England (£540 million) and Liverpool City Region (£710 million). The North East will be eligible to access its share of the funding once appropriate governance is in place but will continue to receive funding in 2022-23 for highways maintenance, integrated transport block and final year of transforming cities fund.

Finally, as I previously updated the House on 1 March, the Government can now announce that light rail services in the midlands and north will receive over £37 million to support their continued operation and provide local areas time to adapt their systems to new post-pandemic travel patterns. This funding will support the Nottingham, Tyne and Wear, Manchester, Sheffield and West Midlands tram and light rail systems, and this brings the total amount provided to the bus and light rail sector over the next six months to £183.9 million.