On Friday, 3 April 2020, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a support package totalling £397 million for vital bus operators.
The package will keep key bus services running to provide a lifeline for those who cannot work from home, including those key workers travelling to jobs on the frontline of the UK’s fight against COVID-19.
The rescue package is considerably less than the bus industry had hoped for (around £1 billion was hoped for), but we believe it will still be welcomed by the industry.
At this point we only have basic details of what is to be provided but summarise these below and will keep you updated as we receive further information.
What does the package provide?
New funding of up to £167 million will be paid over 12 weeks under the new COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant. Bus operators must maintain necessary services at a level (expected to be up to 50% of normal service levels) sufficient to meet much reduced demand and allow adequate spacing between passengers on board. Operators will also be expected to keep passengers informed of revised timetables so that they know which services are running and when.
£200 million of existing funding under the Bus Services Operators Grant will continue to be paid as normal even though not all services may run during this period. The government’s commitment to continue to pay this based on pre-COVID-19 levels will come as a welcome relief to operators as the payments are usually linked to fuel consumption.
£30 million of extra government bus funding, previously set aside for starting new services will now instead be paid to local authorities to maintain existing services.
Councils have also been encouraged to maintain their existing subsidies for concessionary fares, although we have no information on how this will work at present.
Please contact the Regulatory team on 01254 828300 or at Regulatory@backhouses.co.uk for advice.