Calls for transitional COVID-19 bus funding grow

first_imgThe Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has called on governments to deliver rapid sustained funding to the bus industry as it faces ongoing COVID-19 social distancing measures that will massively reduce capacity.Chief Executive Graham Vidler says that the support should be flexible enough to react to short-term alterations to service provision as social distancing is either relaxed or tightened.Mr Vidler’s comments followed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address on Sunday 10 May. Mr Johnson urges that public transport is “avoided at all costs”. Cycling, driving or walking should be the favoured means of travel, he adds.“We must, and we will, maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be reduced,” continues Mr Johnson. Operators will be following what he describes as “COVID-secure standards.” Detailed guidance on social distancing on public transport will be issued shortly.Bus industry wants interim COVID-19 fundingSince the first suggestions that movement restrictions in England were to be eased while COVID-19 social distancing remains in place, the bus industry has reacted with growing concern about both how it would safely carry all passengers, and what funding support would be forthcoming to prevent services from losing money under such circumstances.Adds Mr Vidler: “Bus operators will now be working with government and local authorities on a joint strategy to provide a more comprehensive network that will allow people to get back to work safely.“Lower capacity combined with extensive home working will mean greatly reduced revenue. Sustained investment from government will be required to ensure that the costs of an expanded network can be delivered until passenger numbers return to normal levels.”Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths earlier called for an investment and operational plan to be created jointly by government and the industry for the period during and beyond coronavirus COVID-19. In the short term, it would involve funding for operators while passenger numbers build. Steps to rebuild customer confidence and spread peak demand would also be included.A report released by Transport Focus on Thursday 7 May showed that 62% of passengers will not feel safe using public transport unless social distancing measures are in place.Trio of UK manufacturers also seek supportMeanwhile, a joint letter sent to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps by Alexander Dennis, Optare and Wrightbus has called on the government to support for the UK’s bus building industry, The Telegraph has reported.The three manufacturers have suggested that a bus scrappage scheme, grants and the financing of leasing packages would assist the sector.They have asked for money promised before the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is brought forward. That will allow operators to continue to buy vehicles after some orders for 2020 delivery were cancelled.last_img