Government announces £5bn boost for bus services and cycling routes
Bus services and cycling routes are to receive a £5bn government boost as Boris Johnson sets about holding on to voters who switched to the Conservatives at the last election.
The Prime Minister said he wanted to "make sure every community has the foundations it needs to thrive" by improving transport links.
Under the plans, which Mr Johnson will set out to Parliament, buses would become more frequent and fares simpler and more affordable.
New priority road schemes will also make bus journeys quicker, while there will be more "turn up and go" routes so commuters are less reliant on timetables when planning their journeys.
In addition, at least 4,000 new zero emission buses will also enter service over the next five years.
It is anticipated that communities in the north of England - where bus links are notoriously poor - will be the main beneficiaries of the plan.
Voters in those areas dumped Labour in favour of Mr Johnson in December, and Tory strategists are eager to repay their trust.
Meanwhile, more than 250 miles of new cycle routes and safe junctions will be built in towns and cities across England, while dozens of so-called ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes will be set up to make them more appealing to bike users.
The Prime Minister 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.
"That’s why improving connectivity by overhauling bus services and making cycling easier than ever is such an important step forward, to make sure every community has the foundations it needs to thrive."
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We want everyone across this country to have the transport services they need to improve their lives and opportunities – to do that, we must invest in the here and now.
"Through today’s buses funding we’ll be bringing about a transformation in bus services to every community, speeding up journeys and capping fares to make high-quality services the norm.
"Our long-term commitment to cycling could not be clearer, with money for new routes, more cyclist support and new ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes, set to make our streets the safest they have been for cyclists."
But Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said the cash was too little, too late.
"After years of under-investment and cuts, this unambitious announcement is nowhere near enough to make the difference that transport users, our economy or our environment need," he said.
"The Conservatives are refusing to reverse their colossal £645m a year cuts to bus budgets, which have has caused thousands of routes to be axed and fares to soar.
"Such paltry investment in cycling won’t be enough to stop the UK lagging behind similar European nations for cycling participation."