Stoke-on-Trent City Council has won £29 million of Government funding to improve the city’s transport network and revolutionise how residents get around.

The council has been awarded the money following a successful bid to the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund. It will fund an overall package of works expected to be around £36 million once funding from the council and other partners is included. At the heart of the scheme are improvements to public transport, cycling and walking in the city and creating a better connection between the train station, city centre and key employment sites across the area.

There will be a dramatic revamp of the area around Stoke-on-Trent train station, where a brand-new transport hub is to be created that will offer local commuters and visitors to the city better access to taxis, buses and cycling, while also improving walking routes to and from the station. Two large, weather-proof canopies will be installed on Station Road to provide passengers and pedestrians with shelter, along with an expanded pedestrian area at the entrance to the station and enhanced bus stops. The road will also be made a no-through route past the station to make it more pedestrian-friendly, except for buses and access to existing businesses.

Bus passengers will benefit from the funding, enjoying cross-city priority routes for the first time as part of plans to cut congestion and journey times on the city’s roads. Funding from the pot will be used to tackle bottlenecks on the highway network and introduce bus lanes and bus priority at traffic signals, as well as improvements to the city centre bus station. Four new cross-city routes will be introduced in the first phase that will directly link the city centre and train station to wider employment areas including Longton, Burslem, Tunstall, Royal Stoke University Hospital and Trentham Lakes.

As part of the work to improve the connection between the train station and city centre, and speed up bus journeys, College Road, in Shelton, will be transformed into a priority bus corridor by removing general through traffic but keeping access to local businesses, with improved facilities for cyclists and pedestrians also in the pipeline.

And Longton train station will also receive a much needed £1.2 million investment, with an improved public realm, facilities to support cyclists and new passenger shelters. There will also be better accessibility for passengers with the installation of a new platform lift, encouraging more people to make use of the station and its links into the city, and connections with Derby and Nottingham in the East Midlands.

Other projects that will be carried out as part of the funding include: Bus corridors: Junction improvements at key bus delay hotspots in the city (£1.2 million), Boughey Road: Improvements to promote walking and cycling links to the city centre via Hanley Park (£1.2 million),  City centre bus station: Improvements to the bus station to cater for through services and passenger interchange (£1.4 million),  Enhanced walking and cycling routes to Etruria Valley (£4.2 million),  Enhanced walking and cycling routes to Trentham Lakes (£1.6 million), Stoke station west car park/Glebe Street cycle and pedestrian link: A new cycle track and footpath across Station West car park on to the Trent and Mersey Canal from Glebe Street to the rear of the railway station via Swift House (£104,000), Vernon Road cycle and pedestrian link: Creation of a new shared or segregated cycle and pedestrian link directly from the Trent and Mersey canal to rear of the train station (£200,000), A commitment by First Bus to purchase up to 15 new Euro VI buses once supporting road infrastructure work is completed (£3.5 million).

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “The Transforming Cities Fund allows cities across the UK to better connect their communities and open up access to jobs, housing and services, and this multi-million-pound investment will make it quicker and easier to get around Stoke-on-Trent, providing a real improvement to the everyday lives of residents. This Government is committed to levelling up transport infrastructure around the country. Today’s funding announcement demonstrates this commitment, boosting the local economy whilst helping Stoke-on-Trent build back better from Covid-19.”

The funding announcement follows on from the city council’s successful bid which secured £5.6 million from the Department for Transport in its first round of Transforming Cities Fund last year. It means the combined Government and local match funding for Transforming Cities Fund phase one and two totals around £41 million worth of investment into the city.

Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “This announcement is great news and a real game changer for transport and connectivity in the city. The investment is coming at a critical time as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and power up Stoke-on-Trent for years to come, and it will give the city a real shot in the arm. It’s very encouraging that the Government are supporting what we are trying to achieve in the city and it’s a real endorsement for the future of Stoke-on-Trent at a national level that we have been given this money.

“Stoke railway station, where passenger numbers have shot up to record numbers in recent years, is a big part of the project but the real winner is public transport across the city. This is not just about improving the look and feel of Stoke Station but improving public transport in general, particularly bus travel, and making sure the station connects with the city centre and key sites in the city. We’re committed to improving public transport and sustainable travel in the city and this funding will deliver many worthwhile schemes across the city, including the reintroduction of cross-city bus services and more than £1 million of improvements at Longton train station, so it’s great news for passengers.

“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to make this bid a success and I’d like to thank everyone involved. However, the work really starts now as we aim to deliver the scheme in the timescales set by Government. It’s important to be clear from the offset that this level of investment will almost certainly lead to some disruption in the city, but it will be short-term pain and the benefits will be enjoyed by everyone for many years to come as we transform our infrastructure and make Stoke-on-Trent a truly connected city.”

Nigel Eggleton, Managing Director at First Potteries, said: “This announcement is great news for people who use the local and wider bus network. This exciting news could provide a multitude of opportunities to restore cross city services, improve bus priority and introduce ‘Tap and Cap’ technology making it even easier for people to pay for their journeys.

“I am looking forward to working with the city council, its officers, MPs and key stakeholders on developing a plan that can improve bus provision in the area. As the main bus provider, we are committed to delivering bus services to communities where there is a demand and with this additional funding there is an real opportunity to grow the network further and make bus travel an attractive proposition for travel over other modes of transport.”

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