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Commentary, April 2016

The Road from LSTF to Access Fund

So, alas, we've come to the end of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. For many this is a time of transition - with successful initiatives beginning life after LSTF, other initiatives being downgraded or mothballed, and team members moving on to new challenges.


It should also be a time of celebration after five years of hard work. So congratulations to all projects and their teams! For your local successes, as well as for helping to advance the art of sustainable transport nationally over the last five years. We are a bigger, more experienced and more competent profession now as a result of your endeavors. So thank you for all your hard work.


Local Sustainable Transport Fund: What Works

The Department for Transport (DfT) has already published some of the research it has commissioned looking at the impact of LSTF. There will be more over the coming months. You can find this on the DfT website.


As part of this, the Department will shortly publish 'What Works: Learning from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund'. This report reviews best practice from LSTF, as well as outlines a host of lessons learnt by practitioners on the ground. As well as overall sustainable transport programme strategy, What Works looks in particular at how to improve bus, cycle and rail travel; provide sustainable travel options for commuters and jobseekers; and market sustainable travel.


This report will be an invaluable reference guide for those designing and delivering sustainable transport programmes in the future. As our lead consultant Beth Hiblin is one of its co-authors, we'll be publishing What Works here as soon as it is available.


Sustainable Travel Transition Year

Sustainable transport practitioners across England are now focused on what happens next, but for those who haven't already secured other funding like Cycle City Ambition or Growth Fund, this is a waiting game. Many are waiting to hear if their bids for a portion of the £20m (revenue) Sustainable Travel Transition Year funding for 2016/17 have been successful. Others are waiting for the DfT to make further announcements about the Access Fund, or to move ahead with the plans outlined in the (currently draft) Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.


Access Fund

The Access Fund will be formally launched later in 2016, once DfT has decided how it is going to run this next round of sustainable transport funding. It will share out £60 million revenue and £500 million capital funding across England (excl. London) between 2017 and 2020. It is likely to prioritise sustainable and accessible transport projects which help people access work, training, education and services; as well as those which help improve walking and cycling.

With the Government unable to make major announcements in the periods of purdah before the May local elections and the EU referendum, it may be some time before our waiting game is over.

In the Meantime...

If you're hoping to win Transition Year funding then get your project management ducks in a row. With less than a year to deliver your project you'll need to be ready to go straight away.


If you are serious about winning Access Fund money, start doing the groundwork for developing your bid now. The revenue element of this funding pot is much smaller than for LSTF, so competition will be fierce. The capital element of your bid will need to be deliverable within a relatively short timescale. So your plans will need to be watertight, and you'll have to be able to hit the ground running.

So start working up your ideas and sounding out potential partners and stakeholders to get their support now. Once your bid is in, it might even be worth looking at the practicalities of recruitment, procurement, baseline monitoring and other initial tasks - so you're ready to go as soon as funding is announced. A little 'loss leader' time invested now could pay dividends in terms of winning funding and maximising the success of your project.

All the best consultants will be in high demand once details of the Access Fund are published. So write a brief now for any support you need developing a bid, and secure your expert support as soon as possible. Visit our Access Fund page to see all the ways The Smarter Choice Consultancy can help you develop a successful bid.


Reading List

If nothing else, do some reading to make sure you are up to speed with DfT's current priorities, as well as best practice and latest research. You're going to need a strong evidence base to win Access Fund monies - so make sure you're armed with all the latest facts, figures and thinking. We suggest a selection from:


1. Local Sustainable Transport Fund Annual Reports - which have specific chapters on what projects did to improve access to employment, education, new jobs and training opportunities:



2. Latest research from DfT on the Local Sustainable Transport Fund:



3. Inspiration for projects with a cycling and walking focus - from both emerging policy and past experience:



4. Research to help make the case to LEPs and other partners that sustainable transport schemes are good value for money and bring economic benefit: