The funding will help to plug the gap between the additional cost of running services as a result of COVID-19, and decreased ticket revenue collected by bus operators. The funding is designed to keep bus services running in Edinburgh and other Scottish cities.
The Scottish Government has approved funding of up to £42 million between 4 October 2021 and 31 March 2022 to enable bus operators to maintain services while patronage recovers from the effects of COVID-19.
Transport Scotland says this is in addition to maintaining concessionary reimbursement and bus service operator grant payments at pre-COVID levels. “Bus services played an essential role in keeping Scotland moving safely during the coronavirus pandemic – and have an equally important part to play as we gradually start to return to some sense of normality,” said Minister for Transport Graeme Dey.
“Although passenger numbers have grown, additional support is still currently required. This funding of up to £42 million means we can continue to fund operators between October 2021 and March 2022, to fill the gap between the additional costs of running services due to COVID-19 and reduced ticket income as demand recovers.
“It is important that the public continue to plan their journeys in advance, allowing extra time to avoid busier services, and keep following the rules on the wearing of face coverings unless exempt. I’d also encourage people to keep up good habits by continuing to walk, wheel or cycle where possible. The virus hasn’t gone away, so we need everyone to play their part in keeping our transport system safe.”
The funding has been welcomed by a sector getting back on its feet after the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“CPT welcomes the Scottish Government’s continued recognition of the vital role the bus network plays and the requirement to extend support while the impact of COVID-19 continues to suppress passenger numbers,” said Director for the Confederation of Passenger Transport in Scotland, Paul White.
“CPT will continue to engage with the Scottish Government to ensure that bus services remain resilient and that the sector is best placed to facilitate increasing passenger journeys and play its part in other shared objectives such as decarbonisation, social inclusion and accessibility.”