This money is tied very specifically to sustainable transport so won't affect our general, very difficult, budget decisions, but it can be used to push forward Reading's partnership with residents, neighbouring authorities, the NHS and business to encourage sustainable travel. This will be good news for cyclists and pedestrians especially those needing to cross the Thames and for the prospect of a park and ride that is based in Wokingham or West Berkshire. There will also be improvements that can be made to the bus infrastructure, including ticketing.
Obviously lots of this will now be consulted on so look out for opportunities to shape this.
Council press release:
Reading Borough Council has today (June 27) been awarded more than £20 million in Government money to create a series of 'green' transport initiatives across the town.
The Department for Transport (DfT) today announced Reading had successfully attracted £20.7 million in funding from its nationwide Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) pot. It is the fifth highest LSTF bid awarded in the country - trailing only big metropolitan cities like Manchester and Bristol - and the highest in the South East.
Reading's success means the Council now has the funding to take forward key elements of its initial £24 million bid, which included creating an additional 7,200 daily bus trips, 12,050 daily walking trips and 2,300 daily cycle trips across the town, whilst at the same time cutting congestion by up to 10%. This would be achieved through a proposed new pedestrian/ cycle bridge across the Thames, expanded Park and Ride facilities in neighbouring boroughs and a bike hire scheme for Reading, along with a range of other initiatives.
The funding - whilst less than Reading's original bid - offers the Council the opportunity to progress the majority of the work included in the original submission to the DfT. Transport officers at the Council will now begin work to look at that submission and identify what elements can be progressed with the £20.7 million award.
A key theme of Reading's partnership LSTF bid which had the formal support of Wokingham Borough and West Berkshire Councils, and NHS Berkshire West PCT - was to engage directly with local residents and businesses to influence and maximise the effectiveness of green travel initiatives and any investments, and this will remain the case.
Tony Page, Reading's Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Transport and Planning, said: 'Today's announcement of an additional £20 million-plus investment in Reading will allow us to push forward with long-standing plans to provide residents, local businesses and their employees with an even wider range of sustainable travel options as they make their way around the town. A new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Thames, expanding park and ride facilities outside the borough boundary, the introduction of a London-style Oyster card for Reading and a bike hire scheme for Reading, including parts of Wokingham and West Berkshire, are just some examples of the initiatives we will be working on.
'Today's grant announcement highlights how successful Reading Borough Council is in attracting inward investment in our town to the benefit of local residents, along with major projects like Junction 11 and the Reading Station improvement scheme.
'In taking forward these important initiatives we will be consulting widely with residents, bus companies, cycling groups, local businesses and all interested parties.'
The Council's 'Targeting Travel Choice Transitions' LSTF package is made up of 5 key areas of work. They are:
- Personalised Travel Planning (PTP): Individual visits to business' to understand how people and provide information and incentives to travel more sustainably.
- Fares, Ticketing and Information Services: Including a range of reduced bus fare offers for local trips and making it easier to travel through a single card or mobile phone, similar to London's Oyster Card.
- Cycle Hire/Pool Bike Scheme: Providing a network of readily accessible cycles at local centres, employment hubs and transport interchanges, including folding bikes at stations to encourage more short distance cycle trips.
- Active Travel Interventions to increase walking and cycling: Improvements to existing and provision of some new pedestrian and cycle routes - including the proposed new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Thames - and better surfacing, signage, low energy and low carbon lighting, widths and information/maps.
- Park & Ride/Park & Rail facilities and services: Improved public transport accessibility at key hubs through an enhanced park and ride/rail. This will include park and ride sites at Thames Valley Park, Mereoak and Theale railway station.
The LSTF is a £560 million Government funding pot which local authorities nationwide bid for. It is the successor to the Transport Innovation Fund (TIF) and the Urban Challenge Fund. Under the funding pot local councils were able to bid for small packages of under £5 million, and larger packages of up to £50 million over the four year fund period. In July last year the DfT announced Reading Borough Council had also been successful in its smaller bid for £5 million worth of funding which enabled the Council to work up detailed proposals for the successful larger bid which was announced today.