Extra £46.7m Scottish bus support announced

Additional expenditure of £46.7m has been approved by the Scottish Government to support bus operators in increasing bus services over the next eight weeks.

Bus travel typically accounts for just under three quarters of all public transport journeys. This funding is to cover the anticipated loss of fare-paying passenger revenue that operators will experience due to physical distancing and reduced carrying capacity, at a time where more people may be travelling. The money is in addition to £34.3m that was provided across 155 operators during the pandemic. However, it is thought physical distancing will impact fare-paying passenger revenues significantly. According to Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, as more lockdown restrictions are eased, it is believed up to 55% of employees could be travelling to their normal workplace, a rise from 30% in full lockdown. That could result in an increase in the number of passengers on public transport by around by a third from current levels of 225,000 per day. Due to physical distancing, public transport in Scotland is operating at around 10% to 20% of normal capacity.

The announcement comes as Scotland shifts into Phase 2 of its lockdown restrictions. The authority’s Transport Transition Plan has been updated for Phase 2 and sets out more details.

Paul White, Director for CPT in Scotland, said: “We’re pleased the Scottish Government recognises the important role the bus network is playing in helping people return to work safely and is working with us to ensure a more comprehensive network is in place. Operators are working around the clock to get more buses on our roads as quickly as possible.

“This funding is designed to cover the costs associated with the running of an increased network, but with significantly reduced capacity, until passenger numbers are able to return to normal levels.

“We will continue working with passengers, businesses and local authorities to provide a safe, flexible bus network which allows those who need it to make their essential journeys.”

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