Nottingham City Council is putting pressure on the Government to extend support grants for public transport to aid a greener recovery from Covid-19.
Like many businesses, bus and tram operators have been hit hard by the pandemic, seeing a significant reduction in patronage during multiple lockdowns, and a nervousness from passengers around travelling in enclosed spaces.
At the same time, operators have played a crucial role in keeping Nottingham moving during the pandemic, ensuring that key workers have been able to get to work, and residents to education and shops.
The Government has offered financial support through a Bus Recovery Grant and Light Rail Recovery Revenue Grant, but both schemes are due to be withdrawn after March 2022.
Now the council is calling on the Department for Transport to extend that support for at least another six months.
Councillor Rosemary Healy, Portfolio Holder for Transport, said: “We’re immensely proud of our local operators, who have taken every measure possible to reduce risk to customers and provided an essential service during an incredibly challenging time.
“Access to hospitals and vaccination centres has been maintained, children have been able to access their education, and the local economy, in a city where two in five do not have access to a car, has been able to continue to function effectively during the Covid-19 crisis.
“Withdrawing grant funding at this stage in the recovery of our public transport networks puts at risk the gains and investment in infrastructure that, pre-pandemic, had delivered one of the most successful networks in the UK. It’s also one of the most environmentally-friendly networks in the UK, and with the current climate crisis it’s vital we maintain services that allow people to choose a greener way to travel and reduce our collective carbon footprint.
“We believe it’s important to continue the funding support for at least six to 12 months beyond March to enable a full recovery from the Omicron variant, and to allow time for people to regain confidence in the safety of public transport.
“Without the continuation of the recovery grants, it is very difficult to see how the ambitions of the Government’s National Bus Strategy, economic recovery and climate change goals can be achieved.”