20 October: The Chancellor has just revealed the extent of cuts to public spending. A few big projects have been announced but there are deep cuts to support for buses and massive train fare hikes.
The Chancellor's statement focused on a few large-scale transport projects but the reality is cuts in funding for everyday transport. These projects should not be used as a smokescreen to cover up service cuts and rocketing fares on our buses and trains.
In particular, the Department for Transport is cutting direct support for bus services by 20% and it looks like the support for local authorities for buses in rural areas has been cut completely.
And we're appalled at the Government's plan to allow rail fares to rise so far above the inflation rate from the year after next. It means that hard-working commuters who depend on the train face paying over £1,000 more for their annual season ticket by the time of the next election as most fares will rise by 31%. These eye-watering rises are unacceptable at a time when we should be growing the railways in order to tackle congestion on our roads and reduce carbon emissions in line with Government targets. The money from the fare rises will go straight to Government, not the train companies.
But some good news is that the Local Sustainable Transport Fund has some significant funding. We called for the Fund to have at the minimum £100m a year if it's to make a difference. It's not in the announcement but we understand that it will have £560m for the next four years - roughly two thirds of which is revenue funding rather than restrictive capital funding which can only go on infrastructure. This should be good news for things like Smarter Choices programmes to encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport.
However, there will be big cuts to the rest of local government funding. Local transport capital funding looks set to get cut, with the integrated transport block element cut by over a third compared to recent funding, and revenue funding for local transpot facing a 28% cut. And the programme of larger local schemes looks set to be massively cut back. That means less expensive and damaging big road schemes but also cuts to public transport projects outside London.
London hasn't done too badly with Crossrail going ahead (but delayed) and Tube upgrades. But an overall cut of around 20% in Government's grant to TfL will mean cuts to many projects, particularly for borough schemes and probably for the impressive Smarter Travel programme in some of the London boroughs.
Some other good news:
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