The government will pay £167m to bus companies to ensure services can keep running during the coronavirus crisis, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced today (April 3).
The new Covid-19 Bus Services Support Grant will be paid over 12 weeks and aims to keep key routes running for those who cannot work from home, including those travelling to jobs on the frontline of the UK’s fight against Covid-19, such as NHS staff.
As a condition of the funding, bus operators will be required to maintain necessary services at a level which is sufficient to meet much reduced demand, but also to allow adequate space between passengers on board. This is expected to be up to 50% of normal service levels.
The government has also promised that £200m of existing funding under the Bus Services Operators Grant, which will continue to be paid as normal even though not all services may run during this time.
This funding is usually paid according to fuel consumption, and so the government’s commitment to pay this on pre-COVID-19 levels will help ensure that bus companies are able to benefit despite fewer fare-paying passengers travelling.
Operators will also be required to keep passengers properly informed about revised timetables to ensure that people know which services are running and when.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘We have been very clear during the outbreak that the best way to stop the spread of the virus and protect the NHS, is to stay at home if possible.
‘Our buses are a lifeline for people who need to travel for work or to buy food – including our emergency services and NHS staff – and it’s absolutely vital we do all we can to keep the sector running.
‘This multi-million-pound investment will protect crucial local transport links across England, bolstering the sector and minimising disruption for passengers in the long term.
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