Government bus package expected within days
A package of measures designed to assist the bus industry during the coronavirus outbreak will be announced in the ‘next few days’, according to Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.
The plan was mentioned during a Skype meeting between Shapps and the Transport Select Committee. During the discussion, the Secretary of State said bus travel had fallen by 78% since social distancing restrictions were put in place. He said a lot of work has gone into the bus-specific package, but no further details could be given.
Lillian Greenwood, a Member of the Transport Select Committee and MP for Nottingham South, asked what support is being provided for small bus operators. The Secretary of State said that there were a number of larger operators in the bus market and there was a particular concern with smaller operators who would struggle. The Department was looking to be as helpful as possible, he claimed, while adhering to the Chancellor’s first principle about cross-economy solutions rather than sector specific ones. Further detail is expected to be in the bus package.Shapps reported Baroness Vere has been engaging with CPT and the DfT is developing guidance for services for local authorities concerning bus provision. BSOG is still still being paid even if services were reduced.
Lilian Greenwood MP asked what action the Department was taking to ensure that Community Transport services were available and safe for vulnerable people to use. The Secretary of State said that information about Community Transport would be included in the guidance issued to Local Transport Authorities. He said many users of Community Transport would be vulnerable people and ought to be “shielding” or self-isolating at present.