The West of England Mayor Tim Bowles has welcomed the Government’s decision to cover the losses of bus companies over the next three months to ensure that bus services can continue to run.
The Regional Mayor wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and held discussions with the Transport Secretary and the Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, to put forward the case for further support for the region’s bus operators.
The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) is working with its local bus operators every day to manage the response to the emergency situation coronavirus has caused. WECA has committed to continuing payments to all bus operators for concessionary fare reimbursement and against supported service contracts.
Due to the impact of the coronavirus emergency, bus companies are facing hugely reduced passenger numbers, and a significant loss in revenue; meaning they are struggling to cover their operating costs.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “I’ve been calling for additional support for buses particularly as our region relies on them so much and I’ve been speaking with ministers and the M9 group of Metro Mayors regularly to make the case. I’m very pleased those messages and been listened to and acted on, and this demonstrates the real value of the Combined Authority being able to speak on behalf of the whole of the West of England.
“My team at the West of England Combined Authority is working daily with operators to understand usage and make sure that key workers are still able to get to their jobs. and help the most vulnerable.
“Maintaining support for our buses is essential to help our region emerge from this emergency with a functional network that residents are able to, and want to use.”
WECA is working with the region’s councils and transport operators to ensure that we have the right services in place to support key workers and others who need to travel.
As a result of coronavirus and news that some supermarkets are opening just for older people or those with a disability for their first hour of the day, WECA has extended the hours when concessionary bus passes can be used. Time restrictions for use of the Diamond Travelcard (concessionary pass) have now been relaxed, so people can travel free at any time on journeys starting in the WECA and North Somerset areas.
People are reminded to follow Government advice about travel and avoid non-essential use of public transport. For further travel advice visit: https://travelwest.info/travel_update/coronavirus-travel-advice.