14/01/2004

£20m boost for urban transport schemes

People in deprived urban areas are to benefit from nearly £20 million of investment in local bus services, it has been announced today.

The £19.6 million cash boost, from the Urban Bus Challenge Competition, will go to a wide range of bus schemes that help to tackle urban deprivation and social exclusion across England. The scheme is designed to improve local transport in areas where it is most needed and has handed out £53 million to community transport projects since 2001.

Pilot 'Kickstart' schemes are also included in this year's allocation. These initiatives have the potential to run independently once initial funding has been granted, possibly as commercial services, the government said.

Transport Minister Tony McNulty said today's announcement will bring "real benefits" to many communities.

"This year's award-winning schemes range from new or improved bus services to dial-a-ride initiatives. I am particularly encouraged by the response from local authorities and operators to our pilot Kickstart proposals and I look forward to seeing these schemes proving successful in bringing even more passengers onto buses," he said.

The successful applications include: £1,264,800 for an orbital bus route in Norwich; £440,000 to allow Brent Community Transport to purchase and operate two accessible minibuses over a two-year period; and £972,496 to improve transport links between deprived residential estates in Burnley and areas of employment.

(gmcg)

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