A £50 million project aimed at encouraging people to ditch their vehicles and use public transport in the Black Country was launched today.
Smart Network, Smarter Choices is being introduced to encourage people to change their travel behaviour in favour of buses, trains, cycling and walking. Local Transport Minister Norman Baker was today at Sandwell Council House in Oldbury to launch the three-year project, which will see a package of measures introduced along 10 key routes.
These include the A4123/A459 route between Wolverhampton, Dudley and Quinton and a route linking Walsall and Merry Hill.
Measures will include better walking and cycling routes, car sharing initiatives, road and junction improvements plus advice to families, schools and businesses.
There will be Smartcard technology for cashless travel and improved bus stops with real-time passenger information on digital displays.
The project also includes funding for an expansion of the WorkWise scheme, which provides free travel passes for unemployed people travelling to interviews or starting new jobs.
It is being delivered by transport authority Centro and the region’s seven local authorities.
It follows Centro’s successful £33 million bid to the Government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund and is supported by a further £15 million from local public and private contributions.
Councillor Judith Rowley, Centro’s lead member for green and accessible transport said: “Getting more people to use public transport, walk or cycle can help cut traffic congestion and free up our roads for essential users like hauliers and bus operators. “This project will not only help support our regional economy but can also bring substantial benefits for the environment as well as people’s health.”
Dudley’s transport boss Councillor Judy Foster said: “One of our main aims is to improve traffic flow and that includes encouraging people to use other transport.”