Continuation of vital Covid recovery grant (Network Support Grant Plus (NSG+)) will help bus passengers and provide space for operators to plan for the future
CPT Scotland welcomes the announcement that Transport Scotland are extending NSG+ for the bus sector until 9th of October 2022.
NSG + was introduced to help cover the difference between reduced revenue and increasing costs, largely due to the continuing impact of Covid-19. The £40m scheme was frontloaded to give support to the network primarily over the first four months of the financial year. However, CPT was informed in May the scheme would likely end early.
CPT Scotland has been working with its members to make the case to government that this vital grant needed to continue at current rates to provide a protective roadmap through the summer. In the autumn, the bus network will hopefully be in a stronger position due to the return of students, an increase in commuter travel, and the expected launch of a government supported national marketing campaign to encourage people to take the bus.
The bus sector is facing the most challenging landscape it has ever faced. We are experiencing driver shortages, surging fuel, energy, maintenance, and staff costs, along with supressed passenger numbers, as people’s travel patterns evolve and concerns about the safety of public transport use post-Covid linger. Many of these challenges will remain when NSG+ ends in October and difficult decisions will continue to have to be made as our bus networks adapt this year to the ever-changing landscape. However, although this funding will not stop all changes currently happening now, continuation of NSG+ funding until October will likely help mitigate the scale of changes that will be required come October.
Paul White, CPT Scotland Director, says:
“We welcome that Transport Scotland has listened to the concerns of the bus sector about the impact this would have had on passengers and agreed to continue vital recovery funding until October this year. By working constructively with Transport Scotland and securing this funding, CPT Scotland hopes bus operators now have the certainty and time to carefully consider what routes and services may look like in a world where transport needs are evolving, making sure they provide the best possible services to passengers. The announcement means this recovery and planning can happen while the sector continues to operate a comprehensive network of sustainable, reliable, and affordable services, rather than to the likely background of deeper cuts that would have followed had a continuation of funding not been forthcoming.”