NatEx to reinvest furlough money in cutting fares
National Express West Midlands has pledged to reinvest all the money from the government’s Job Retention Bonus into reducing bus fares. The Birmingham-based bus operator will cut the price of tickets when the current COVID-19 restrictions on public transport are lifted.
Managing Director of National Express UK, Tom Stables, said: “This is the right thing to do for our customers. And by using our allowance from the Chancellor’s Job Retention Bonus to reduce fares across the West Midlands, we are investing in the future of our region.
“Making bus travel cheaper will help get our local high streets back on their feet, lock in the environmental benefits that came out of lockdown and get the people of the West Midlands back to work. We know that 77% of all job seekers, and 87% of young jobseekers, have no access to a car, van or motorbike and are completely reliant on their local bus networks, and 75% of bus users have jobs which mean working from home is not possible. So buses are part of the solution.
“And of course as a transport operator, we always want to persuade more people to get the bus. It’s good for us and it’s good for the environment – travelling by bus is the quickest and easiest thing we can all do to bring clean air to our cities and tackle climate change.”
National Express had fewer buses running during the in the early days of lockdown, meaning thousands of the company’s drivers, engineers and back-office employees were furloughed, although most of them are back working now. Under the government’s Job Retention Bonus scheme, employers are able to claim a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee who was furloughed and stays employed to the end of January 2021.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This move by National Express is an incredibly innovative one, and one that will help the West Midlands economy bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. Not only will cheaper bus travel allow more people to get to town and city centres to support local shops, but it also helps those travelling to work or to a job interview. Keeping people in work or supporting those who fall out is a critical part of our region’s recovery plans, and there is no question this gesture by National Express will help us achieve that.
“On top of the economic benefits, lower fares stand a better chance of persuading people to leave the car at home and use public transport, which we know is critical in the fight against climate change.”