Bus Services: Coronavirus

Department for Transport written question – answered on 21st October 2020.

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Photo of Selaine Saxby Selaine Saxby Conservative, North Devon

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to provide support to bus and coach industries to mitigate the effects of covid-19 outbreak on those industries.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Department for Transport is working closely with representatives from the bus and coach industries through the Confederation of Passenger Transport, and colleagues in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and other Government Departments, to discuss the concerns of the coach and bus industries in England and review our approach to mitigating the effects of covid-19 on these industries.

The Department has published Safer Travel Guidance for Operators which helps transport organisations in England understand how to provide safer workplaces and services for themselves, their workers and passengers.

On 8 August, the Department announced funding at up to £27.3 million per week to support the bus sector, through the Covid-19 Bus Services Support Grant (CBSSG) Restart scheme, until a time when the funding is no longer needed. CBSSG Restart funding also covers costs for essential PPE such as hand sanitiser and protective screens for drivers’ cabs. This is in addition to the £397 million the Government announced on 3 April 2020 so that England’s buses will continue to serve those who rely on them, and the £254 million announced on 23 May to support services returning to 100% service levels.

On 31 July 2020, the Department announced that a further exemption from Public Service Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) until 31 July 2021. Whilst many coach operators are PSVAR-compliant, we understand the COVID-19 outbreak may have constrained some operators’ ability to invest in PSVAR-compliant vehicles. This further exemption enables operators to redirect their revenue streams to those areas most needed for the immediate future.

The Department of Education (DfE) has announced over £70 million to local transport authorities to provide dedicated, additional capacity in our transport system, helping students journey to and from their schools and colleges whilst social distancing reduces the capacity of existing public transport. This has been provided in two tranches that were announced on 8 August date and 14 October and will provide additional capacity to the end of the autumn term.

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