The Department for Transport (DfT) will make available up to £3m to support an enhanced network of scheduled coach services over the Christmas travel window. It will allow the provision of up to 80,000 additional seats between 23-27 December.

DfT says the money will enable operators to boost provision to 75% of pre-pandemic levels over that period. Megabus, National Express and Snap are among the providers who will benefit from the funding.

Both Megabus and National Express will serve more locations during the travel window as a result. National Express Coach Managing Director Chris Hardy says the operator will “double the mileage of the network and further increase the number of vehicles and seats available on routes as necessary.”

Megabus will account for 5,600 of the extra seats. MD Mark Venables adds that it has already sold 50% of the capacity that it had available on the busiest days in December. “It’s great news that we are working with DfT to increase the number of seats on our services in the run up to the festive break.”

Snap founder and CEO Thomas Ableman says that Snap’s network of coach operators will provide its services through the festive period.

DfT has explained that the money to support scheduled coach services is being made available to account for additional transport requirements and to provide alternative options should the rail network come under pressure over the festive period.

Separately, Megabus says it saw patronage rise by 90% during the week that university students travelled home when compared to the previous week. National Express earlier revealed that it also saw a major rise in passenger numbers over the same period.