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In the papers today - 20th June 2008

Increasing numbers of commuters ditching their cars in favour of public transport are pushing profits up to record levels at bus and rail group Go Ahead...

The operator of the Southern, Southeastern and London Midland rail franchises, as well as bus services in London and the regions, said rocketing petrol prices and traffic jams were encouraging motorists to switch to public transport - The Daily Telegraph

The government will be forced in to bail out the London 2012 Olympic athletes' village as the impact of the credit crunch and the sliding domestic housing market threaten to stretch the £9.3bn budget for the games to its limit. The chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority conceded for the first time yesterday that the village would definitely require additional public funding to cover a shortfall that could run to tens of millions of pounds - The Guardian

First came self-service bicycles, and now Paris is launching a green scheme to provide electric cars that drivers can pick up and drop off anywhere in the city. The Socialist mayor, Betrand Delanoe, announced yesterday that from the end of next year, 4,000 electric cars will be placed around Paris and its outskirts for drivers in the scheme to help themselves for short journeys - The Guardian

Devastation caused by week-long flooding in America's farm belt is threatening to push up food prices which are already at record highs. The cost of corn and soya beans has peaked on the US market amid concern of a shortfall in production - The Guardian

Iraq is preparing to allow four of the biggest western oil companies to renew exploitation of the country's vast reserves for the first time in almost four decades. Iraq's oil ministry stepped up talks with BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total after the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, visited Iraq in March, where he also pressed the government to revive efforts to pass the hydrocarbon law that nationalist MPs were blocking - The Guardian

Train operators would be handed longer term franchises under a Conservative government, with contracts lasting up to 20 years in order to fund improvements such as new carriages and better stations. Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers announced the policy as the rail regulator warned that the industry "lacks a clear vision" of how it will meet future challenges - The Guardian

Londoners will get a chance to design their own "Lego" London Olympic park tomorrow using mini Perspex tiles for houses and trees in one of the biggest public planning exercises ever held. Vast marquees are to be set up in boroughs in East London this weekend with huge plywood grids allowing locals and passers-by to decide what they want most in the 246-hectare site after the 2012 Games are over - The Times

Cycle "hubs", where cyclists can lock their bikes under cover, have a shower and even get a puncture fixed, are one of the ideas being funded in a £100M programme designed to persuade more people to switch from four wheels to two. Bristol will get the lion's share of the money - £11.4M - after being selected as Britain's first official "cycling city". Another 11 towns and cities will also receive a share of the biggest investment in cycling - The Times

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