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£4.5M SCOTS RURAL TRANSPORT CASH BOOST FOR BUS SERVICES

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Details of the£4.5m package of measures which will improve transport links in rural areas were unveiled today by S...
Details of the£4.5m package of measures which will improve transport links in rural areas were unveiled today by Scottish transport

minister Henry McLeish.

The government signalled its determination to tackle social exclusion

in remote areas of Scotland by ploughing£4.5m from the budget

into rural transport. And Mr McLeish has revealed that the significant

financial boost will be targeted at three key areas:

-£3.5m will be spent on subsidising socially desirable scheduled

bus services in the most peripheral areas of Scotland

-£600,000 will be spent on funding community transport measures,

such as community buses, dial-a-bus services, taxi buses and

voluntary car schemes

-£400,000 will be pumped into sustaining rural petrol stations and

other measures

The minister said:

'I am sure this will be seen as a significant and welcome boost to

public transport in country areas. It is also a strong indicator of the government's determination to address the problems of exclusion from transport services in remote areas where getting from A to B cannot be taken for granted, especially for those without a car.

'We will be looking to act quickly to distribute the funds in order that the rural public transport users can receive the benefit as soon as possible. Various options are actively being considered carefully to ensure that the money is targeted at areas of need.

'I intend channelling some£600,000 to developing community

transport initiatives which are likely to be of particular value in more remote areas. I believe the majority of the funding - some£3.5m

- should be aimed at enhancing socially desirable scheduled bus

services. This would be achieved by targeting the additional help at

those local authorities with rural communities and particularly those

covering more remote areas. I am also looking at ways of directing

some£400,000 towards sustaining rural petrol stations and other

measures.

'This package of measures will assure those living in rural areas of

Scotland that the government recognises their transport needs and is

determined to bolster and enhance public transport services which in

many cases seem to have been eroded over the last 20 years or so. I am

sure they will fit well with the government's intention to develop a

sustainable and integrated transport strategy for the future benefit of Scotland.'

- Further discussions will take place to determine where the

funds will be targeted. It is anticipated the funds will be allocated

during financial year 1998/99.

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