County Council pledges support to Hampshire bus operators during Coronavirus outbreak
As people heed advice to stop non-essential travel and bus passenger numbers drop across the country, Hampshire County Council has confirmed it will support Hampshire’s bus operators during this time by continuing bus subsidy, concessionary fares, and home to school transport payments where students use bus services.
Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said: “Government figures released this week show that travel by all forms of public transport has dropped by at least 75% as people play their part in reducing the spread of Coronavirus and stay at home.”
“National guidance urges local authorities to continue to support bus and coach operators for local bus contract reimbursement at the same levels as before the Coronavirus outbreak, and Hampshire County Council will certainly comply with this request. This approach seeks to offer at least some protection to the income of local bus operators and helps them to continue paying their staff and suppliers with the aim of ensuring that when things return to normal, the bus operators are in a strong enough position to go back to providing the same levels of service that we had before.
“In the meantime, I’d like to thank all those working at bus companies, and particularly bus drivers, who are continuing to provide a much needed service to help ensure key workers can get to work and people who rely on public transport can get essential supplies.”
The County Council will also provide financial assistance in a different way to those contractors who provide taxi and minibus journeys for Home to School Transport purposes, through the payment of a retention rate.
Given these difficulties, most bus services in Hampshire are currently running to a Sunday timetable with additional early and late journeys to cater for key workers and essential shopping journeys.
In addition, in response to supermarkets offering priority opening hours for senior citizens, the County Council recently relaxed all restrictions on the Concessionary Travel scheme so that older people can travel by bus using their free pass before the usual 9.30 am threshold.