7 July 2021
RMT Press Office:
RMT warns that the end of the Government’s Covid-19 Bus Service Support Grant must not lead to a service cuts crisis.
With confirmation from the Government that the Covid-19 Bus Services Support grant will end in August 2021 and be replaced by a lower level of ‘recovery funding’ from September 2021 until April 2022, bus union RMT has warned that with passenger numbers still far below pre-Covid levels, action must be taken to prevent the commercial bus operators slashing services as the CBSSG comes to an end.
Under the CBSSG, rolling funding of up to £27.3m per week was provided to bus operators in England, outside London, whereas the recovery funding announced today commits £226.5m for the seven months from September 2021 – April 2022, averaging less than £8m per week. With bus passenger numbers currently averaging around 64% of pre-Covid levels, RMT is demanding that the Government take action to ensure that the commercial operators do not look to cut services that are not guaranteed to make them a profit from September.
At the same time, the Government is still in the slow lane over its commitment to reverse the illogical ban on local authorities establishing new municipal bus companies. RMT is calling on the Government to urgently reverse this ban to ensure that local authorities are best placed to deliver the local bus services their communities require without needing to rely on commercial operators whose main motivation is maximising private shareholder profit.
General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“While it is welcome that the Government will provide a level of recovery funding from September until next April, RMT believes that with passenger numbers still much lower than pre-Covid levels, the Government must take action to ensure that the commercial operators, which have received significant amounts of public money throughout the pandemic, do not prioritise profits at the expense of bus services and passengers when the CBSSG ends in just a matter of weeks.
"The National Bus Strategy acknowledges that the UK’s bus market has been in decline for many years, and that local bus services have a key role to play in maintaining social cohesion and fighting climate change, and any cuts to services will only worsen this decline and run counter to our climate change goals.
"Two months ago, an RMT survey of local councillors warned of an impending bus cuts crisis, with just 12% of councillors believing that the commercial operators would not cut services in their area, and with the end of CBSSG fast approaching, the Government needs to set out as a matter of urgency how it will ensure that services are protected from September 2021 and when it will reverse the irrational ban on new municipal bus companies.”
- DfT announcement regarding level of rolling funding via the CBSSG -https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-extends-coronavirus-support-for-buses-and-trams-total-funding-tops-700-million
- DfT Transport use during the Covid-19 pandemic statistics -https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/transport-use-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic
- RMT survey of local councillors on bus funding - https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/rmt-warns-of-an-impending-bus-cuts-crisis/