HC Deb 14 July 1999 vol 335 cc190-1W
Miss Geraldine Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what help is available from his Department to improve public transport in rural areas. [90376]

Ms Glenda Jackson

The aim of our integrated transport strategy is to increase transport choice for all—including those who live in rural areas. In addition to the extra £700 million of funding to assist local authorities with the implementation of their local transport plans, we have made available a further £170 million over three years to improve public transport in rural areas.

The bulk of this £170 million is being used to provide additional bus services in rural areas. We are allocating £32.5 million each year to English local authorities in Rural Bus Subsidy Grant for the support of new rural bus services, as well as making £15 million available for this year's Rural Bus Challenge competition and £15 million for next year's Challenge. We have also set aside £4.2 million a year for the Rural Transport Partnership fund, to assist community-based transport initiatives.

Lancashire was allocated £751,438 in Rural Bus Subsidy Grant for 1998–99, and the same amount for 1999–2000. In addition, the authority was allocated a total of £481,606 for its two successful bids under the 1998 Rural Bus Challenge competition, involving the creation of a new bus and rail interchange facility at Clitheroe and the establishment of a high quality bus corridor to include low floor accessible vehicles, improved shelters, and better provision of information for passengers.