Regional transport leaders issue joint call to ministers for more funding

Six transport authority leaders, working together through the Urban Transport Group, have signed a letter to transport minister Baroness Vere, asking for funding to meet the challenge of increasing bus, rail and tram services during the new phase of lockdown, despite seeing a dramatic fall in fare income.

The letter says: “We have done what the Government has asked of us in support of the approach the Government has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial consequences for our organisations have already been significant, with all our organisations losing the vast majority of their revenue from patronage.

“You have now asked us to ramp up services as soon as possible now that the lockdown is being eased. The costs of doing this will be significantly higher than was the case during lockdown as we need to provide the biggest service we can, in order to maintain social distancing, whilst at the same time low passenger numbers will generate low levels of revenue.

“Without a sustainable funding package from Government something will need to give sooner rather than later. 

“We therefore need to move to single packages of funding support for transport authorities to cover the general and mode-specific costs of bus, mass transit and light rail, and devolved rail (backdated where necessary) which will fully close the funding gap created by COVID-19 for the lockdown, restart and recovery phases.”