Photo gallery: Minister has high praise for Norfolk’s public transport schemes
A minister has hailed Norfolk as leading the way for the rest of the country in public transport.
Baroness Kramer, Minister of State for Transport, visited the county today to announce a £500,000 boost to car sharing clubs around England.
She praised the Norfolk Car Club, which was set up by Rex Warner four years ago and currently has 17 designated spaces around the city.
For a small membership fee, members are able to book cars in advance, paying a minimal hourly rate and the price of petrol.
The not-for-profit club has seen a dramatic rise in numbers, and hopes to expand to 80 spaces in the next five years.
Baroness Kramer said: 'Car clubs cut congestion, reduce carbon and save people money will still giving people the freedom and flexibility to use a car when they want to.
'One of the special things about the Norfolk service is that it operates in rural as well as urban areas. People can see the logic of them in urban areas, but trying to see the effect it can play in rural areas is the difficult part.'
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Under the government's plans, more than 40 car clubs from around England, inlcuding the Norfolk Car Club, will be able to bid for a share of the £500,000 to expand their service.
It is estimated that car club users save thousands of poounds a year on insurance, MOT and tax costs, while one rental car is thought to take the place of 17 individually owned vehicles on the road.
While in Norfolk, Baroness Kramer also praised the holdall bus smartcard scheme, which was introduced earlier this year and allows passengers to pre-pay for their journeys on many of the county's different bus services.
The minister, who used the service to arrive at Thickthorn Park and Ride, said: 'We are now getting to know more about journeys people want to do, telling us more about what people need. The flexibility of the service is the challenge - and Norfolk is rising to it.
'Norfolk County Council have been very forward looking in trying to achieve what they have. It is hard to achieve across the county and having an area which is willing to be cutting edge is crucial.'
The £2.5m scheme, similar to the Oyster card commonly used in London, will help to introduce a similar ticketing scheme elsewhere in the country.
For more information and a full story, see tomorrow's paper.