Government extends financial support for GM's trams and buses

Date published: 10 August 2020

The Government has announced it is extending coronavirus support to buses and trams outside London, with £44m allocated to Metrolink.

The extra support across England is worth up to £256m to help ramp up services ahead of expected increases in public transport use in September.

Currently, passenger numbers on bus and light rail services are significantly below normal levels, despite the bus network now running at over 80% of normal service levels, and the five light rail systems running at similar levels.

The funding will enable operators to mitigate the impact of the loss of revenue, while continuing to build back to normal service levels.

The latest round of funding – key to safely getting young people back in education settings and workers back to their offices – means total support during the pandemic for bus and tram services will reach at least £700 million.

This follows the £421 million already provided for buses and the £56 million provided for trams during the pandemic.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Getting the cities going again will be crucial to the recovery of the UK economy.

"As people think about returning to the office, it is vital that we are able to offer them a Covid-safe public transport service to build the confidence on which any recovery will have to be based.

“That’s why I am pleased that the Government has removed the uncertainty that has been hanging over Metrolink.

"But this latest deal only covers the next 12 weeks and I would ask the Government to consider making a clear commitment to cover all losses up to the end of the financial year so that we can plan for the city’s recovery with more certainty.

“Until the pandemic hit, Metrolink operated without subsidy, with its revenues used to operate the network and repay the borrowing used to fund its expansion.  

"Given the huge drop in ticket revenue, and without sufficient support from the Government, we would have a deficit running into tens of millions of pounds this year and next.

“I am grateful to the Transport Secretary for once again showing he is prepared to listen to us and for providing this support.

"But what we are asking for going forward to support the country’s largest tram network is a drop in the ocean compared to the transport package for London.

"The success of the Northern Powerhouse depends upon sustained investment in transport - both now and into the future.”

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