Industry warns of job losses without state aid
The UK bus industry has stepped up its call for state assistance today, collectively telling government ministers to get behind the industry now or risk the decimation of a national bus network that is getting critical sector employees to work during the current crisis and is central to communities and regional economies all year round.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, the Confederation of Passenger Transport says passenger numbers have fallen by 50%. Revenues outside London are set to fall by £50million per week, threatening the ability to pay the wages of nearly 100,000 drivers as well as all the support staff and then indirect employees required to deliver a national network. It says the decision to close schools – and the widely trailed stay-at-home policy for over-70s – could push this fall to 75%, even before any lockdown.
The industry is asking the government to guarantee budgeted sources of income for bus and coach operators and to support up to 80% of staff costs. The CPT says this would enable major operators such as Arriva, First, Go-Ahead and Stagecoach – as well as numerous smaller bus companies – to maintain routes vital for taking NHS staff and other key workers such as refuse workers, cleaners and supermarket staff to their places of work. It says the industry accepts the necessity of the government’s advice to avoid unessential travel to protect all of our health.
“Bus companies stand ready to help the national response to the coronavirus crisis in any way possible and are drawing up plans to use buses as mobile grocery stores for people forced to self-isolate and as mobile testing units for the NHS. But without extra funding, the bus network outside London could disappear. A rescue package now will ensure an industry vital for the country remains in place once the crisis in over.”
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