£3m to support coaches over Christmas
A support package worth up to £3m that will enable coach operator to provide additional scheduled services over the Christmas travel window has been announced.
The Government is working with companies such as National Express, megabus and Snap to ensure extra scheduled services are provided over the Christmas travel window (23-27 December). The funding is intended to enable scheduled coach operators to boost services to up to 75% of pre-pandemic services. According to the DfT, the move will make up to an additional 80,000 seats available.
To minimise disruption and help people travel safely to their bubble, the Government set out a series of measures last week, including lifting hundreds of miles of roadworks, enhancing rail services, postponing and accelerating rail engineering works and cutting ticket charges. The new support for scheduled coach services builds on this and ensures that, should there be pressure on rail services, people will have alternative travel options.
“This funding will mean more coaches on our roads to help people travel safely and ease overall pressure on public transport” – Alison Edwards, CPT
Alison Edwards, Head of Policy at the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, said: “The pandemic has made it challenging to run scheduled coach services. It is welcome to see this recognised by Government. Coaches provide a vital means of transport during the Christmas period and will be running throughout the festive period, including on Christmas Day. This funding will mean more coaches on our roads to help people travel safely and ease overall pressure on public transport.”
Chris Hardy, Managing Director, National Express Coach, said: “Maintaining the UK’s largest network of scheduled coach services has been challenging but we have worked hard to provide safe, low carbon, travel over the festive season.
“This funding will allow us to increase the frequency of some routes, introduce new direct services and add more locations on our 23 – 27 December timetable.
“We will initially be doubling the mileage of the network and will further increase the number of vehicles and seats available on routes as necessary. The flexibility of coach travel means we can respond to demand and quickly and safely increase capacity with Covid-secure measures in place.”
Mark Venables, Managing Director for megabus, said: “Public transport continues to play a vital role in helping to connect communities, and that’s even more important this year as people travel to reunite with their families and loved ones for Christmas.
“We’re pleased to have worked in partnership with the UK Department for Transport to provide thousands of additional seats on our megabus coaches this Christmas, and we’ll be running right throughout the festive period, including on Christmas Day.
“Seats are selling fast, so we’re urging people to plan ahead and book their travel as soon as possible. Our megabus services offer safe, environmentally friendly, easy, hassle-free and flexible travel and provide a great alternative to travelling by car.”
Thomas Ableman, Founder & CEO of Snap, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to help people see their family at Christmas. Our network of incredible quality local coach operators are ready to get people to where they need to go with safety, security and a smile. We know people have really valued their local small businesses this year, so are sure they’ll continue to do so by booking their travel with a local coach operator through Snap.”