Bus industry calls for further government funding as lockdown measures ease
The UK bus industry has warned that the government needs to extend its emergency funding if operators are to increase the number of services they are running in line with official instructions.
Speaking to City A.M., the Confederation for Passenger Transport (CPT), which represents the UK’s bus and coach firms, said that “it was highly unlikely that we will be able to increase service levels without an extra funding guarantee”.
Bus operators were given an initial grant of £167m by officials, split over 12 weeks, a period that comes to an end in June.
The money was intended for firms to be able to cover the costs of continuing to run services for essential workers.
At the time, the CPT estimated that it was running about 40 per cent of services for only 10 per cent of its normal customer bases.
Now, however, having been asked to run more services as the UK begins to emerge from lockdown, firms have warned they would be left with a shortfall, as passenger revenues are not predicted to increase in line with service levels.
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In a statement, it said: “Reduced capacity combined with extensive home working will mean greatly reduced fare revenue and sustained investment from government is required to ensure the costs of an expanded network can be delivered until passenger numbers return to normal levels”.
It added that the new funding provisions should be “flexible” and without a cap, so that companies can react to changes in lockdown measures accordingly.
The CPT said that in order to ensure passengers were able to adequately socially distance while travelling, buses would probably only carry 20 to 25 per cent of their full capacity for the foreseeable future.
A representative for the association said that in order to keep numbers low it was advising passengers to sit only in window seats and leave rows between people.
In addition, drivers are likely to be given a role in monitoring capacity, potentially leading to a “one-on, one-off” system.
City A.M. has contacted the Department for Transport for comment.