The emergency funding to maintain bus services in England was welcomed by major bus companies and campaign groups.
Transport Focus and London TravelWatch Chief Executive Anthony Smith says: “Around half of bus passengers tell us that the bus is the only real means of transport available to them, so it is right that the Government has recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by coronavirus.
“Bus operators and transport authorities must keep services running for key workers and those who must travel for medical care and essential shopping. It is vital that services are protected so they can get back up and running as soon as this crisis is over.”
Paul O’Neil, Arriva managing director for UK Bus, adds: “The Secretary of State’s announcement of support for operators means that we can continue to deliver this vital service up and down the country. It also means that we will be ready to gear up to a full network as quickly as possible when appropriate.”
Matthew Gregory, FirstGroup chief executive, says: “I am pleased that by working with the DfT, devolved government and local authorities, we are demonstrating that we are able to secure the necessary support to continue running bus services, recognising the unique and essential role they play in sustaining our local economies and communities.
“These arrangements will enable us to continue working closely with councils and our other local stakeholders to ensure that key workers can reach their destination, be it hospitals, supermarkets or distribution centres. When the present restrictions on travel are over, we will be ready to work quickly to re-connect people and communities as the country emerges from the effects of the pandemic and a return to normality is sought. I want to express my gratitude and thanks to all our employees who are working so hard to keep buses going at this difficult time.”
Darren Shirley, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, says: “This funding should help ensure essential bus services are kept running to allow millions of key workers to keep doing crucial jobs around the country. Buses are the backbone of our public transport network and without them many people would be left stranded. This announcement should also mean households can remain isolated, but are not entirely cut off from shops and other vital services whilst helping retain a viable network for beyond the crisis.”
Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users is delighted that bus services are being recognised and supported by Government: “Buses have been a lifeline during the current crisis. They have ensured key workers get to where they are needed, and that people without access to private transport can make essential journeys to buy food and medication and to care for others.”
Transdev CEO Alex Hornby says: “This welcome announcement will help us protect our bus network, and will ensure that our colleagues can carry on helping key workers to travel to and from work, while protecting thousands of jobs across England’s bus industry.
“The Government and the bus industry have worked quickly and decisively here, and whilst challenges remain, this package will safeguard the future of bus networks here and across the North, and ensure we are ready to get the country back on its feet once this crisis is over.”