The trade body for bus and coach operators has given a cautious welcome to the Government’s measures to support jobs but said it is seeking clarification.
On Friday, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new coronavirus job retention scheme under which any employer will be eligible for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but kept on payroll rather than laid off. Government grants will cover 80% of the salary up to £2,500 a month.
Cashless payment is preferred on Brighton & Hove buses
Before the announcement the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) called on the Government to provide £1bn in emergency support and warned that the closure of UK schools could put coach firms out of business.
CPT policy manager Alison Edwards said: ‘The chancellor’s announcement last week to support furloughed workers has the potential to support jobs in the bus and coach industry at a time when the industry is suffering unprecedented falls in revenue as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
‘Understandably operators have a number of questions about how the scheme will work in practice and CPT is speaking to the Government to clarify this. We will update members as soon as possible.
‘There remains a lot more to do to support the industry at this difficult time, including guaranteeing that home to school transport payments will continue alongside other forms of local authority funding, and CPT is continuing to work with Government and others to achieve these.’
A number of firms, including Stagecoach, which runs services across the country, have announced cuts to services.
On Monday, Brighton & Hove Buses announce that it had changed its timetables ‘to better reflect customer demand’. Most of the company’s routes will operate a Saturday service.
Managing director Martin Harris said the firm would ‘continue to review bus timetables’.
He said: ‘Passengers can really help our drivers by using contactless payments or mobile tickets to reduce contact and by only using cash when absolutely necessary.
‘Our drivers are still accepting cash but I know they would appreciate it if passengers could have the correct fare ready, where possible. Some drivers may ask you to put your money in a plastic bag. Please don’t be offended if this happens; it’s just an extra precaution.’