Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Lack of Cash Has Region on Road to Nowhere; Tyneside Could Fall Behind the Rest of the Country with the Quality of Its Bus Services If More Government Cash Is Not Brought to the Region, Says a Transport Chief. AMY HUNT Reports

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Lack of Cash Has Region on Road to Nowhere; Tyneside Could Fall Behind the Rest of the Country with the Quality of Its Bus Services If More Government Cash Is Not Brought to the Region, Says a Transport Chief. AMY HUNT Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: AMY HUNT

CONGESTION is becoming an even greater problem in the lives of drivers.

So regional leaders want to get us out of our cars and on to public transport.

And massive injections of cash, like the announcement of pounds 350m to modernise the Metro, are seen as being key to achieving this.

But one transport chief says other parts of the UK are proving more successful at bringing in money to make bus services attractive to passengers. Peter Huntley, managing director at Go North East, says more could be done to bring cash to Tyne & Wear to revamp roads with features like bus lanes and priority traffic lights that would help buses run on time by avoiding jams.

He has written to the chairman of the Tyne & Wear Integrated Transport Authority (ITA), Coun David Wood, asking him to push the issue.

He believes bus companies, council leaders and members of the ITA need to come up with a plan to bring more cash to the region.

Mr Huntley compares the situation of Tyneside to Manchester, where pounds 54.6m is set to be spent on so-called bus corridors, pounds 42m of which will be funded by the Government.

But in Tyne & Wear only pounds 14.9m has been pledged by the Department for Transport for the second phase of a programme to improve bus routes, far short of the pounds 37m requested.

The lack of cash means local leaders having to shelve half of the schemes put forward for funding.

Mr Huntley said: "I'm not trying to criticise the ITA, but for some reason the region isn't getting this money.

I don't know what has gone wrong.

"Have we set our sights too low and not made the case to the Government? "It is very frustrating when you see other parts of the country somehow managing to get this money. "That sort of sum would make a huge difference. At the moment 12% of our resources are put into just coping with the effects of congestion on buses. …

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