Further funding for bus services in Scotland of up to £35.4m has been approved by the Scottish Government through its COVID-19 Support Grant – Restart (CSG-R) mechanism. It comes against a backdrop of continuing engagement towards enabling the usable capacity of buses in the country to be increased in line with higher limits in England.
The latest round of CSG-R will enable operators to maintain services between 28 June and 3 October. It follows multiple previous tranches, including of up to £61.4m so far in 2021/22.
Says Minister for Transport Graeme Dey: “This additional funding of up to £35.4m means that we can continue to fund operators between June and October, helping to fill the gap between the additional costs of running services due to COVID-19 and reduced ticket income while vital restrictions remain in place and demand is supressed.”
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Scotland has welcomed the further extension of CSG-R. Director Paul White adds that CPT Scotland remains in discussion with Transport Scotland about increasing the usable capacity of buses in the country.
Documents that supported the same work by CPT in England, where since 17 May the use of almost all seats on buses has been permitted with the agreement of the Department for Transport, have been passed to Transport Scotland for consideration and dialogue is ongoing.
Mr White says that there is no indication of when, or if, any decision may be made by Transport Scotland. However, he notes that limited vehicle capacity has become a headache for some bus operators, who are pushing for limits to be relaxed. If usable capacities were to increase, demands on CSG-R funding would reduce, Mr White adds.
The Scottish Government made available £191.3m of support to the bus industry in 2020/21 through CSG-R but it forecasts that only £119.5m of that will be spent. Reconciliation exercises take place at least every 12 weeks to ensure that operators are not being under- or over-paid.