Rishi Sunak is set to pump billions of pounds into transport to give metro mayors the power to improve key public transport links.
The Treasury said nearly £7 billion would be given to areas such as Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and South Yorkshire for projects ranging from tram improvements to introducing London-style improvements in infrastructure, fares and services.
£6.9 billion in funding
The investment will be seen as a win for Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who has been heavily lobbying the Government to hand over the cash for his region to launch a London-style transport system.
Labour’s Mr Burnham had called for £1 billion and put pressure on ministers during the Tory Party conference in Manchester earlier this month.
The announcement is also being touted as a vote of confidence in the devolution agenda as all those awarded cash are areas with metro mayors.
There will be £830 million given to West Yorkshire, £570 million in South Yorkshire, £1.05 billion in the West Midlands, £310 million in Tees Valley, £540 million in the West of England and £710 million for the Liverpool City Region.
Some £5.7 billion will be transport settlements for the regions, while £1.2 billion of new funding will go towards transforming bus services to deliver London-style journey times, fares and number of services.
'Fares should be lowered to London levels'
Mr Burnham said the funding was an “important first step” that “shows the Government is listening to the case that Greater Manchester is making”.
But he said that ongoing revenue funding would also be needed.
“As welcome as it is, infrastructure investment alone will not make levelling up feel real to the people of Greater Manchester.” he said.
“That will only happen when the frequency and coverage of bus services are increased and fares are lowered to London levels.
“So we are now hopeful that the Government will soon build on this foundation and match this allocation with revenue funding to make our Bee Network vision a reality.”
The £5.7 billion is a five-year settlement, and has been increased from the initial £4.2 billion proposed, the Treasury said.
While the £1.2 billion of funding for buses is part of £3 billion that the Prime Minister committed to spending on a “bus revolution” in March.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents the bus and coach industry, said the fact that the full £3 billion had not been reached yet meant the Government’s “rhetoric is unfortunately not being matched by reality”.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also receive additional funding through the Barnett formula.
Mr Sunak said: “Great cities need great transport and that is why we’re investing billions to improve connections in our city regions as we level up opportunities across the country.
“There is no reason why somebody working in the North and Midlands should have to wait several times longer for their bus or train to arrive in the morning compared to a commuter in the capital.
“This transport revolution will help redress that imbalance as we modernise our local transport networks so they are fit for our great cities and those people who live and work in them.”
This article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com