More than £650,000 is shared out to protect the county’s bus services
- Credit: Archant
More than £650,000 has been shared out among bus operators in Norfolk to help them keep subsidised services running amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department for Transport gave the COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant to Norfolk County Council so County Hall could decide how best to split the money between bus companies.
Just under £660,000 was made available and, using delegated powers, Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure at the council, has allocated the cash.
The money covers a 12 week period, from March 17 to June 8.
Ten operators benefited from the cash, with Holt-based Sanders the biggest beneficiary with an award of just over £195,000.
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Acle-based Our Hire was second, with just under £140,000.
The council worked out how to split the cash by gathering information from operators about the subsidised services they operate, including the distance of those services and how much revenue was collected in a typical week before coronavirus restrictions were introduced.
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A report produced by Norfolk County Council said: “The COVID-19 situation has been particularly challenging for bus operators, who are finding it difficult to run services due to the availability of drivers and other staff, as well as passengers’ unwillingness to use the bus following government advice for the public to avoid any non-essential travel and to work from home where possible.
“Without this funding there is a real risk bus operators would not be able to continue to operate, putting service provision at risk and leading to significant extra funding having to be provided in the future.”
First buses was awarded almost £19,000 through the grant.
Chris Speed, head of operations, said; “We welcome all support that can improve bus services to make buses an attractive proposition for local residents and visitors to the area.
“Funding made available for bus travel needs to be sustainable and allocated to areas that can bring benefit either through supporting existing commercial services with evening and weekend journeys, or to new/existing conurbations that are in need of public service provision.”
From Monday, it will be mandatory for people using buses and other public transport to wear face coverings.