Plans for £40m bus improvements in East Lancashire

The controversial Pennine Reach scheme to improve bus services in East Lancashire has been scaled down by £10m and re-submitted to the government.

The original £50m bid for the scheme which was turned down by the government has been revised and cut to £40m.

Plans for a bus lane in Darwen have been scrapped and routes in Rishton, Great Harwood and Accrington reduced.

The scheme will provide new bus stations in Blackburn, Darwen and Accrington and cut congestion.

As well as reducing the costs of the project, authorities in East Lancashire are hoping the changes will appease residents who have criticised the original plans.

Congested roads

Councillor Dave Harling, from Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: "We have tried to remove the elements that raised most objections from residents along the roads affected by the original proposals.

"The most contentious was the bus lane in Darwen and we have removed this."

County Councillor Tim Ashton, cabinet member for Highways and Transport for Lancashire County Council, said Pennine Reach should encourage the use of public transport over cars and boost the local economy.

Mr Ashton said: "Our roads are congested and people are fed up of being stuck in queues of traffic so we have to look at what else we can do.

"A better transport network is essential if we are to promote economic growth in the borough and encourage new employers to come here and give jobs to local people."

Local authorities are working with the Department for Transport to refine the business case, aiming for a final submission in autumn 2011.

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