We’ve just received the following update on bus services, which boils down to a commitment to maintaining sufficient services to support key worker movements.
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The West Yorkshire Combined Authority has set out its commitment to supporting a resilient bus service for key workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Combined Authority is combining its own financial resources with Government funding to commission the key worker bus timetable through the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance. The Department for Transport is providing emergency funding to be managed in West Yorkshire by the Combined Authority which will oversee the bus service during the emergency and the recovery period afterwards.
In addition, the Combined Authority usually pays operators more than £6m per month to fund socially necessary bus services and the free and cheaper concessionary fare schemes. It will continue to do so during the pandemic despite huge falls in passenger numbers as people heed the instruction to stay at home.
Through the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, operators will agree to hold bus fares at current levels, make changes to timetables in partnership with the Combined Authority, observe social distancing and hygiene standards and provide regularly updated information on how the network is operating. The Government has set out a package of direct support for the bus industry based on minimum continued service levels which will be reflected in the key worker timetable.
Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:
“The number of people using buses in West Yorkshire is only 10% of usual levels which shows they are listening to instructions to stay at home but poses a massive challenge to the finances underpinning the network.
“We will continue to fund bus operators and work through the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance to commission the key worker bus timetable to ensure those who have to travel can do so and in a safe way that allows them to follow social-distancing guidelines.
“It is also increasingly clear that the long-term impact of the pandemic on public transport will be significant and sustained. I am committed to safeguarding the interests of West Yorkshire customers and businesses during this period and the recovery. We will need continued Government support to restore and strengthen the network when normality returns.”