Roads, railways, buses and trams are to receive a £283 million funding boost and half a million bike repair vouchers will be made available as part of plans to get Britain moving again during the coronavirus crisis.
The Transport Secretary said today the cash injection, divided into £254m for buses and £29m for trams and light rail, would increase both frequency and capacity of services while ensuring there is enough space on vehicles to allow for social distancing.
Grant Shapps also announced that up to 500,000 vouchers, worth £50 each, would be provided to help cyclists ‘drag bikes out of retirement’ and get more people travelling on two wheels.
Buses will receive a £254m boost to increase frequency and capacity of services. Pictured: A bus driver wearing a face mask drives over Waterloo Bridge
Grant Shapps, pictured today, said he wants to ensure there is enough space on public transport vehicles to allow for social distancing
The Transport Secretary said a cycle voucher scheme would help half a million people ‘drag bikes out of retirement’. Pictured: A cyclist wearing a mask on Waterloo Bridge this week
The money for public transport will be spent on making adjustments to vehicles, signage, deep cleaning and the provision of hand sanitiser.
In addition, 3,400 people, including British Transport Police officers and Network Rail staff, have been deployed at stations to make sure passengers follow the social distancing guidance put in place.
Light rail funding will also support services in Sheffield, Nottingham, Tyne and Wear, Manchester and the West Midlands.
A personalised information service has also been introduced to inform people about disruption and crowding on services.
It comes after the Department for Transport announced earlier this month that £225m will go towards creating pop-up and permanent cycle lanes across England to encourage people to use bikes instead of public transport when necessary.
Mr Shapps, who will lead the daily Downing Street press conference this afternoon, said: ‘To make sure people can travel safely when they need to, we are increasing capacity on buses and light rail, as well as helping local authorities fast-track plans to support cyclists and pedestrians, further reducing pressure on our transport network.
‘These measures will help keep passengers safe now, but we must also prepare for what comes next.
‘Strengthening vital road and railway connections, as well as encouraging cycling and walking, will be essential to our ambition to level up the country, secure a green legacy, and kickstart regional economies, as we build out of Covid-19 and look to the future.’
On the coupons, he added: ‘Previously, we announced the introduction of a scheme to bring bicycles back into a roadworthy condition, relieving the pressure on public transport and improving the nation’s health.
A cyclist rides along a newly created bicycle lane by Transport for London on Park Lane in London
‘Today, I can provide the detail of the new £50 bicycle maintenance voucher. Available from next month, the scheme will help up to half a million people drag bikes out of retirement, speed up the cycling revolution and help individuals become fitter and healthier and reducing air pollution, which remains a hidden killer.’
The voucher scheme first came to light earlier this month, but the number being made available, and their value, was only revealed at today’s briefing.
The announcement comes amid a surge in sales for bikes during lockdown, with one business owner telling the Guardian: ‘It’s been the busiest period of trading I’ve had in 27 years’.
Andy Rackstraw, owner of Saddle Safari in south Buckinghamshire, said his team have been working through the night to meet demand for its products and services, while following social distancing guidelines to keep staff safe.
Some 300 people are on a waiting list for repairs to their bikes, while sales of new builds in April were three times as high as 12 months earlier.