Earlier this morning the Department of Transport slipped out a new means for local authorities to get bridging cash for sustainable travel. Why bridging? Because the Government shut down the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, and CWIS – the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, or Cee-whizz – won't be published until the summer of 2016. The bridging cash is £20m and has been made available via a new vehicle, the Sustainable Travel Transition Year Revenue Competition.
STTYRC was not announced with a DfT press release, it just appeared on the DfT website. Local authorities will be contacted with details on how to apply, and it's advisable that they do so quickly.
"A launch of a £60 million Access Fund will take place later in summer 2016 to provide further support for sustainable and accessible travel projects," says the DfT.
The "Access Fund" appears to be the replacement for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund – it is a much reduced pot of cash. It's a £20m per year fund, starting in April, compared to a £68m per year fund (and all revenue, not capital). Because of previous uncertainly over the replacement for the LSTF some local authorities are likely to have already issued termination notices to their sustainable-travel staff.
"The Government recognises the important role of smarter travel in building the kinds of places people want to work and live," claims the STTYRC announcement page.
"The Department for Transport is therefore committed to supporting sustainable travel initiatives which support the local economy, boost economic growth and cut carbon emissions."
The DfT continues: "To support the transition between now and then, the Department is committing £20 million of the £80 million revenue to sustainable travel projects in 2016/17. This funding will benefit local authorities who wish to continue a sustainable transport project that has proven successful in the past, and who also want to start progress on plans to improve access to jobs, skills, training and education."
Unlike the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, much of which was spent on bus and even road schemes, STTYRC will "favour schemes that focus on cycling and walking," promises the DfT.
This was decided upon following consultation with Living Streets, Sustrans, ADEPT (the representative body for local authorities across the UK), Urban Mobility Group (formerly PTEG), Campaign for Better Transport, and the Bicycle Association.
"This Sustainable Travel transition year will operate as a competition between local transport authorities, and will support highly deliverable, ‘ready to go’ schemes," says the DfT.
"To be considered for funding, bids must demonstrate evidence of building on previously successful sustainable transport initiatives; must demonstrate support for boosting the numbers of people cycling and walking; and must articulate a future strategic vision for sustainable travel in relation to accessing jobs, skills, education and training."
Bids from a single transport authority need to express a minimum interest of £350,000 and a maximum interest of £500,000; consortiums of two or more transport authorities and other delivery partners may submit a joint bid up to a maximum of £2.5 million.