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Economy Economy

Provide £1.1 billion to improve local transport

Last updated: 03:15pm 25 September 2019

This will include £740 million of digital infrastructure investment, the largest investment in railways since Victorian time, £1.1 billion to improve local transport and £250 million in skills by the end of 2020.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.20

Our verdict

Local transport gets individuals or goods from one part of a region to another by road or rail. Its smooth functioning is essential to citizens’ health and wellbeing, and to economic stability at both regional and national level. This is a pledge to invest £1.1 billion to improve local transport.

Progress on spending has been made. Several local authorities across the UK have bid for a share of funding under the Transforming Cities Fund£840 million of which will go towards “better, safer, faster transport links”. This is in line with the government’s Future of Mobility Grand Challenge, announced in 2018 and expanded upon in a 2019 policy paper outlining future action points. The action points include £90 million for Future Mobility Zones, with a further dedication to cleaner transport, automation and new business models.

The government also announced the winners of the 2018 ultra-low emission bus scheme competition in early 2019 with a total of £48 million going towards the cost of buses.

It’s important, however, to acknowledge the broader context within which these investments are being made. A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers in May 2019 found that councils in England are likely to face “a cumulative funding gap of £51.8 billion” over the coming six years. In light of that, some will see a pledge to invest £1.1 billion in local transport as unlikely to bring about the promised improvement.

Despite the report’s finding that “the current local government funding model does not reflect underlying spending need”, there has been investment in local transport, and more has been pledged. The government has until 2020 to hit the £1.1 billion target, so for now this is ‘in progress’. Follow this policy to see whether they reach the spending goal and whether local transport can be said to have improved.

See how the wheels on the bus go round and round in more depth – read on:

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