Ministers pledge almost £400m to keep buses running for key workers
North of England bus operator Transdev is welcoming today’s announcement from the Department for Transport (DfT) confirming a package of funding is to be provided by the UK Government to support vital bus services during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The package, agreed jointly with England’s bus operators, includes up to £167 million of new funding and comes on top of a guarantee from ministers to underwrite an existing £200 million investment in the nation’s bus network, in addition to up to £30 million of extra Government funding, originally earmarked for starting new services, which will now be paid to local authorities to maintain existing services.
The extra money announced today will be made available to England’s bus operators for at least the next 12 weeks and will be paid under a new COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant.
As a condition of the funding, bus operators will be required to maintain necessary services at a level which matches much reduced demand, as millions heed Government advice to cancel non-essential journeys to protect the NHS and save lives – while still allowing those who must travel, such as NHS staff and other key workers, to do so with sufficient space between customers on board each bus.
Transdev’s seven operating companies are continuing to provide essential bus services across local networks serving communities across the North of England, from Preston and Bolton in the west to the North Yorkshire coast in the east, with timetables in place at a reduced frequency to reflect lower demand while ensuring those who must travel can do so.
Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “This welcome announcement will help us protect our bus network, and will ensure that our colleagues can carry on helping key workers to travel to and from work, while protecting thousands of jobs across England’s bus industry.
“The Government and the bus industry have worked quickly and decisively here, and whilst challenges remain, this package will safeguard the future of bus networks here and across the North, and ensure we are ready to get the country back on its feet once this crisis is over.
“We’ve been humbled by the hundreds of messages of support we’ve received from our customers for our efforts to continue providing an essential service. My sincere appreciation goes out to all our colleagues at Transdev who have been incredible in their efforts to keep people moving, and we remain totally committed in protecting them in their work.”
Under today’s agreement, bus operators are required to keep customers informed about revised timetables. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Transdev is constantly reviewing and updating information on its bus operator websites, with updated timetables also available via its free to download Transdev Go mobile app.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.”
Full details of all Transdev bus services are available online at: http://www.transdevbus.co.uk with updated timetables also on the free to download Transdev Go mobile app.