England’s buses will continue to serve those who rely on them thanks to a funding boost totalling £397m for vital bus operators, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced today.
The package, agreed jointly with the bus industry, will keep key routes running to provide a lifeline 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.
New funding of up to £167m will be paid over 12 weeks under the 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 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.
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.”
Operators will also be required to keep passengers properly informed about revised timetables to ensure that people know which services are running and when.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “It’s vital people protect our NHS by staying at home during the outbreak – but we also need to ensure that doctors, nurses and other key workers, can travel to and from their jobs. This funding will provide a lifeline for those on the frontline as well as those who cannot work from home.”