Portsmouth, South East Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are set to see significant improvements to active travel and public transport thanks to almost £56 million investment from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund.
The Portsmouth city region Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) bid unites Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council, Isle of Wight Council and local public transport operators with a shared commitment to transform the way people travel in the area.
The joint bid was awarded almost £56 million towards the total scheme package of £101.7 million, with match funding provided by each of the bidding authorities and their partners First Bus, Stagecoach, and the borough councils.
Funding will support 23 schemes across the city region which include improvements for walking and cycling, and is an important next step for the three authorities towards developing a rapid transit network for the area.
South East Hampshire Rapid Transit is a long-established ambition between the three authorities and local transport operators. Centred on a network of bus-priority and improved walking and cycling routes, rapid transit will better link communities in Gosport, Fareham, Havant, Waterlooville and Ryde on the Isle of Wight with Portsmouth. Investment from the Transforming Cities Fund will enable the next phase of developing a rapid transit network, while supporting a greener recovery from the coronavirus.
The breakdown of schemes in each local authority area is as follows:
- Hampshire County Council: ten schemes
- Portsmouth City Council: nine schemes
- Isle of Wight Council: four schemes
All 23 TCF schemes will be delivered by 2023.
Transport Minister, Baroness Vere said:
“This money will make a real difference to the everyday lives of Portsmouth and South-East Hampshire residents.
“The Transforming Cities Fund allows cities across the UK to enhance their local transport networks, opening up access to jobs and services.
“We’re committed to levelling up transport infrastructure across the country, boosting local economies and enhancing local connectivity. This multimillion pound investment in Portsmouth and the surrounding area will do just that, helping the area build back better from Covid-19.”
Councillor Lynne Stagg, Portsmouth’s Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport said: “This investment supports our commitment to improving air quality and will enable much-needed improvements for those travelling into and around Portsmouth, whether by foot, on a bike or via public transport.
“The public transport schemes build on the success of local rapid transit services, such as the Eclipse and the Star, and go a long way towards achieving our ambitious plan for a rapid transit network. We will continue to work with our partners to seek funding opportunities in addition to this welcome investment.”
Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: “With our partners in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight we have put together an ambitious bid which will support our area’s economic recovery from the Coronavirus outbreak, linking transport and housing developments, helping to reduce congestion, and improve air quality.
“This welcome investment in cycling and walking builds on our commitment to make it easier for people to have sustained and healthier lifestyles, while helping to meet the County Council’s targets in our Climate Change Strategy to reduce carbon emissions.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the changing travel patterns we were already beginning to see. With more people already cycling and walking, this is a critical time for us to make changes for the future as Hampshire enters into a stabilisation phase from the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re working with colleagues at Portsmouth City Council and the Isle of Wight every step of the way to ensure an excellent quality of life for those within our community.”
Councillor Ian Ward, the Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet Member for transport and infrastructure, said: “We strongly welcome this announcement as it continues our programme of cycling, walking and green travel initiatives.
“The historic tramway on Ryde Pier will be transformed into a pleasant route for walkers and cyclists while improvements to Ryde transport interchange will help boost the local economy and promote the Island to visitors getting around by bus.
“Today’s news is recognition by the Department for Transport of our commitment to greener travel options and protecting our precious environment through reducing harmful carbon emissions.”
The Department for Transport released two waves of funding for the Transforming Cities Fund. For Tranche 1 the Portsmouth city region received the full ask of £4 million. £2.6m was spent on improvements to three busy junctions in Portsmouth, and Real Time Information installation at bus stops across Portsmouth, Havant and Waterlooville. In addition, £1.4m is being used to support the extension of the existing Eclipse bus route in Gosport.
The Portsmouth city region bid document can be viewed here: https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/parking-travel-and-roads/travel/transforming-cities-fund