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Millions more in coronavirus funding to maintain ‘vital’ bus services

A bus amid the Covid physical distancing measures in Union Street, Aberdeen.
A bus amid the Covid physical distancing measures in Union Street, Aberdeen.

Millions of pounds has been pledged to protect “vital” bus services across Scotland through a coronavirus-prompted fall in fares.

An extra £29 million has been committed to helping operators maintain routes by Scottish ministers.

Due to the effect of physical distancing on passenger capacity and more people working from home, income from fares has decreased drastically through the pandemic.

Usually, it accounts for around 75% of all public transport use.

The funding, covering the cost of making vehicles Covid-safe and reduced passenger numbers, will be available from mid January until March 31.

It comes on top of £162.3m provided by the government since June.

Announcing the pot of cash, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “We know how vital bus services are in keeping Scotland moving during the challenges faced by the Covid-19 pandemic – ensuring people can travel to work, access health services, or visit their loved ones.

“While we remain committed to supporting our transport network and doing all we can to help the bus industry deliver services, we also ask the public to follow the latest travel guidance and walk, wheel or cycle wherever they can.”

SNP Aberdeen Central MSP Kevin Stewart added: “This funding will be absolutely vital for bus operators here in Aberdeen, and across Scotland, whose passenger numbers have been massively hit by the pandemic.

“Buses are the only mode of transport for many and it is absolutely vital they are still accessible to those who need to travel.”

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