The Highland Council has secured £2.76m in a first round of funding to transform public transport in the region.
Following a successful bid to the Scottish Government’s Bus Partnership Fund, the council and its partners will now deliver quick wins and develop options for ambitious bus priority schemes that aim to tackle the negative impacts of congestion on bus services. This work will provide the step change necessary to modernise the transport network by cutting congestion and car usage by car by offering more reliable public travel choices that help to tackle the climate and ecological emergency.
The Phase 1 funding secured will allow the council to deliver projects at Raigmore Hospital and Rose Street in Inverness as well as bus-only links at Blar Mhor and Upper Achintore in Fort William. The rest of the Phase 1 funding is allocated to prepare outline business cases, appraisals and other feasibility work to support a second funding bid that has the potential to unlock further funding of up to £21.7m.
Councillor Trish Robertson, Chair of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee said: “One of the best ways for us to reduce our carbon footprint is to change how we make everyday journeys. This bid demonstrates the Council’s commitment to working with our partners and the Scottish Government to reduce congestion and cut back the number of journeys made by cars.
“The Bus Partnership Fund centres on tackling congestion, which is most pronounced in our biggest urban areas, Inverness and Fort William. We look forward to developing options and engaging on these exciting projects that will help to create a healthy, sustainable transport network that is fit for an age of Climate and Ecological Emergency.”
David Beaton, Managing Director of Stagecoach Highland said: “We are delighted to hear the news that the Phase 1 Bus Partnership Fund bid has been successful. This result demonstrates the strength of our partnership working and our commitment to continuing to deliver a high quality public transport service across the region. Getting our buses through congestion hot spots is one of the best ways to reduce bus journey times, improve reliability and therefore make travelling by bus the best way to move around. We look forward to continuing this essential work with Highland Council and our other partners.”
A bid for funding projects in Skye was not successful, and officers are exploring other potential opportunities for the projects proposed in this bid.