Ministers are giving bus and tram services in England outside London up to £256m to help them ramp up services ahead of expected increases in public transport use next month.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said bus services will receive up to £218.4m over the next eight weeks, with rolling funding at up to £27.3m per week afterwards, ‘until a time when the funding is no longer needed’.
From Monday (10 August), tram services also have access to up to £37.4m over 12 weeks, at a rate of up to £3.1m a week, with funding to be reviewed at the end of the period.
Officials said passenger numbers on bus and light rail services are still significantly below normal levels despite the bus network now running at over 80% of normal service levels. The five light rail systems are also running at similar levels.
Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: ‘Continued social distancing measures mean capacity on buses remains reduced and income from passenger fares is still significantly lower than normal. This latest funding will help us keep running a comprehensive bus network that millions of people rely on.’
Roads minister Baroness Vere said: ‘As we continue to open up the economy more people are using public transport and need sufficient service levels in order to travel safely.
‘That’s why we took swift action at the start of this outbreak to ensure that these services were maintained for key workers then and would still be there for people when the economy opened back up. This extension of funding pushes our overall support past £700m and means people across the country will have access to the transport services they need.’
Officials said government cash had helped to support more than 13,000 local bus services across England, outside of London, as at the end of July, adding that the Government is also actively working on ways to ensure the bus sector can operate independently and be commercially viable.
All bus operators in England outside London that previously claimed the Bus Service Operators Grant, as well as operators who run services tendered by local authorities, are eligible to claim the new funding and future provisional funding.
Five tram services in the North and Midlands – West Midlands Metro, Sheffield Supertram, Manchester Metrolink, Tyne and Wear Metro and Nottingham Trams – will receive the light rail funding.