The Scottish Government will provide a funding package of £46.7m to bus operators over the coming eight weeks to support service increases.
The funding will cover the anticipated difference between revenue and the cost of operation that will come with continuing physical distancing and lower vehicle capacities. Additionally, it will be available towards one-off remobilisation costs for vehicles that have been out of use while service provision had been reduced.
Revenue support will be paid on a pence per kilometre basis. That will be based on either specific operator figures or an industry average, a Transport Scotland spokesperson says. A periodic reconciliation process will take place to ensure payments are matched to actual costs and revenues.
All bus operators in Scotland will be able to opt into the scheme. When doing so, they will be required to enter into a public service contract with Transport Scotland. Capacity will be targeted on “lifeline” routes and those where demand is highest, the agency says.
The Scottish Government has already maintained concessionary travel reimbursement and BSOG payments at pre-coronavirus COVID-19 levels. That has seen £34.3m paid to 155 operators, says Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson.
“But this is a difficult time for our bus industry. Physical distancing will impact fare-paying passenger revenue significantly. Communities rely on bus services and this additional funding seeks to serve their anticipated travel needs,” he adds.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has welcomed the announcement of funding for Scottish bus operators. CPT Scotland Director Paul White says that operators are now “working around the clock” to get more vehicles ready for service as soon as possible.
225,000 passenger journeys per day are currently being made on public transport in Scotland. Mandatory use of face coverings on public transport will be introduced from 22 June.