Councils and employers must be given the tools they need to keep commuters safe and healthy and prevent overcrowding. That’s the view of Transport for the South East following today’s announcement that £250m of government funding – the first part of a £5bn package announced in February – will be brought forward to help local authorities fund pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements and cycle and bus-only routes.
The measures are designed to make it easier for commuters to walk and cycle and help reduce demand on public transport, which will only be able to operate at around 10% of normal capacity while social distancing remains in place.
Cllr Keith Glazier, chair of Transport for the South East, said: “Hundreds of thousands of people across the South East are used to using public transport for their normal daily commute, but it’s now clear that there will be capacity for only a small proportion of these on our buses and trains while social distancing measures remain in place.
“As our towns and cities slowly start to reopen and the economy begins its road to recovery, it’s vital that local authorities and employers have the tools they need to help commuters stay safe and healthy when travelling. The funding brought forward by the transport secretary, along with the promise of a national cycling strategy in the summer, is a step in the right direction.
“Here in the South East, councils are already exploring options to pedestrianize streets, improve cycle route and create one-way areas and some significant changes have already been made, like the closure of seafront routes to road traffic in Portsmouth and Brighton & Hove. These will not only help us deal with the impacts of COVID-19 but hopefully also have a lasting impact on air quality and help limit the impacts of climate change.”
Later this year, Transport for the South East will publish a thirty-year transport strategy for the region. It sets out a vision for the South East in 2050 that is better for people, better for business and better for the planet. With the right investment in a more sustainable transport network, we can help our economy recover and grow, creating new jobs, boosting quality of life and helping cut the region’s carbon emissions to net-zero.