19 March 2020
RMT Press Office:
RMT calls for emergency powers to ensure that vital bus services are maintained as routes are cut in response to Coronavirus
Bus workers union RMT called on the Government today to introduce emergency powers to allow local authorities to take control of their bus services and ensure our communities and the most vulnerable in society do not become isolated.
Responding to announcements that bus companies are planning to run reduced services during the Coronavirus crisis RMT says declining passenger numbers make it increasingly unlikely that bus services will run a full timetable, however, urgent action is required to ensure that the UK’s bus networks do not completely grind to a halt.
Bus workers are continuing to play a vital role in keeping those who need to travel, for instance key workers or the elderly, connected with their workplaces and other services and RMT had called for emergency legislation and full funding so that local authorities can regulate their bus services and take them into public ownership. This will ensure that local authorities can strategically plan how to maintain socially necessary bus routes.
The Government must also provide sufficient funding to ensure that the skills and jobs and conditions of all the UK’s bus workers are protected during this crisis. Bus workers have their jobs and income guaranteed and not be penalised because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Bus services are the lifeblood of our communities, and particularly during this crisis, they continue to connect key workers, the elderly and vulnerable with work and other essential services. The Government must maintain the integrity of the bus network, otherwise communities risk becoming isolated.
“To achieve this, the Government must, as a matter of urgency allow local authorities to take control of their bus services, so they can plan where they are needed the most. As bus passenger income continues to drop, the Government must also provide the necessary funding so bus services can continue to run, to protect the jobs of all the UK’s bus workers, and ensure those who are unwell or self-isolating receive full sick pay from day one.
“RMT will be raising these issues with the Government and bus companies as a matter of urgency.”