The Government has extended its coronavirus support package for bus and tram operators, revealing on Saturday 8 August that up to £256 million in additional funding will be made available to help them ramp up services ahead of expected increases in public transport use in September.
Bus services across the country will receive up to £218.4 million of support over the next eight weeks, with rolling funding at up to £27.3 million per week afterwards until a time when the funding is no longer needed.
Meanwhile, tram services now have access to the remaining £37.4 million over 12 weeks, at a rate of up to £3.1 million a week, with funding to be reviewed at the end of the 12-week period.
The latest round of funding means total support during the pandemic for bus and tram services will reach at least £700 million. This follows the £421 million already provided for buses and the £56 million provided for trams during the pandemic.
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “As we continue to open up the economy, more people are using public transport and need sufficient service levels in order to travel safely.
“That’s why we took swift action at the start of this outbreak to ensure that these services were maintained for key workers then – and would still be there for people when the economy opened back up. This extension of funding pushes our overall support past £700 million, meaning people across the country will have access to the transport services they need.”
CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler added: “Continued social distancing measures mean capacity on buses remains reduced and income from passenger fares is still significantly lower than normal. This latest funding will help us keep running a comprehensive bus network that millions of people rely on.
“Bus operators remain committed to working with government, passengers, businesses and local authorities to provide a safe, flexible and sustainable bus network for local communities.”
The Government says it is also actively working on ways to ensure the bus sector can operate independently and be commercially viable. Stressing its commitment to a ‘sustainable future’ for the bus industry, it revealed plans to publish a National Bus Strategy to set out how it plans to support the sector.
All bus operators in England outside London who previously claimed the Bus Service Operators Grant, as well as operators who run services tendered by Local Authorities, are eligible to claim the new funding and future provisional funding. Five tram services in the North and Midlands – West Midlands Metro, Sheffield Supertram, Manchester Metrolink, Tyne and Wear Metro and Nottingham Trams – will be supported by the light rail funding, with the money going directly to operators, as with the previous rounds.