Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has promised that England’s buses “will continue to serve those who rely on them” thanks to a funding boost totalling £397 million for vital bus operators.

He explained that the package, agreed jointly with the bus industry, will keep key routes running.

“Our buses are a lifeline for people who need to travel for work or to buy food — including our emergency services and NHS staff — and it’s absolutely vital we do all we can to keep the sector running,” Mr Shapps said.

New funding of up to £167 million will be paid over 12 weeks under the new COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant.

As a condition of the funding, bus operators will be required to maintain necessary services at a level which is sufficient to meet much reduced demand, but also to allow adequate space between passengers on board.

This is expected to be up to 50% of normal service levels.

Operators will also be required to keep passengers properly informed about revised timetables to ensure that people know which services are running and when.

The Government has also promised that £200 million of existing funding under the Bus Services Operators Grant (BSOG) will continue to be paid as normal even though not all services may run during this time.

This funding is usually paid according to fuel consumption, and so the commitment to pay this on pre-COVID-19 levels will help ensure that bus companies are able to benefit despite fewer fare-paying passengers travelling.

This is in addition to up to £30 million of extra government bus funding, originally earmarked for starting new services, which will instead be paid to local authorities to maintain existing services, Mr Shapps pointed out.

Welcoming the news, Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Chief Executive Graham Vidler said: “Bus operators of all sizes across the country are providing an essential service at a time of national emergency, and we thank the thousands of staff doing an incredible job to keep routes running.” 

Last reviewed 3 April 2020