CPT urges £1bn bus rescue package
CPT is urging ministers to support the industry now or risk what it describes as the decimation of a national bus network that is getting critical sector employees to work during the current crisis. It described the sector as being central to communities and regional economies all year round.
The trade body claims that as the coronavirus pandemic spreads, passenger numbers have fallen by 50% already. It says revenues outside London are set to fall by £50million per week, threatening the ability to pay the wages of nearly 100,000 drivers as well as all the support staff and then indirect employees required to deliver a national network. The decision to close schools and the stay-at-home policy for over 70s could push this fall to 75%, even before any lock down.
The industry is asking the government to guarantee budgeted sources of income for bus and coach operators and to support up to 80% of staff costs. CPT believes this will enable major operators and numerous smaller bus companies to maintain routes vital for taking NHS staff and other key workers to their places of work.
CPT says bus companies stand ready to help the national response to the coronavirus crisis in any way possible and are drawing up plans to use buses as mobile grocery stores for people forced to self-isolate and as mobile testing units for the NHS. But without extra funding, it claims the bus network outside London could disappear. A rescue package now will ensure an industry vital for the country remains in place once the crisis is over, according to the CPT.
Graham Vidler, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: “We appreciate that we are living in unprecedented times and more than ever we are ready to play our role in maintaining a vital national network and supporting the fabric of daily life across Britain.
“But bus operators are under extreme pressure and facing impossible choices over which routes they have to cut and how many staff may have to go.
“Buses are crucial to keeping workers moving – and must remain a vital backbone of public transport once this crisis is over.
“We urgently need the Government to help bus workers and their employers now to secure the future of the industry.”