With patronage falling and social distancing limiting passengers onboard during the pandemic, CBSSG funded up to 100% of pre-COVID-19 service levels, ensuring key workers continued to be able to travel easily and safely. Critically, as restrictions are lifted and passengers return, the bus sector is important in helping the economic recovery.
Grant Shapps, minister for transport says he appreciates that this presents bus operators with a fundamental financial challenge. To encourage passengers back, local bus services should be as available as they were prior to the pandemic. Without support, however, it may not be possible for operators to maintain the services they have provided up until now.
Therefore it has been announced that a further £226.5 million in financial support in the form of recovery funding has been made available for the bus sector. Funding operators and local authorities from 1 September 2021 until the end of the current financial year, this will succeed CBSSG, which ends on 31 August.
In addition to helping maintain services, recovery funding will support the key aims of the National Bus Strategy of encouraging local authorities and operators to work together to deliver better bus services. In return for receiving funding, operators will be asked to commit to co-operating with the process for establishing Enhanced Partnerships or franchising.