Go-Ahead Group plc (LON:GOG) today welcomed the announcement from the Department for Transport (DfT) regarding a funding package to be provided by the UK Government to enable the continuation of vital bus services across England.
The package, which includes £167m of new funding, will be available to bus operators for at least the next 12 weeks. This is a positive development for our regional bus division and we are working with the DfT to optimise this funding to benefit key workers and other people using our services to make essential journeys.
Reflecting the Government’s guidance to avoid non-essential travel, bus passenger numbers have fallen by around 90%, therefore this financial support is crucial to ensuring we are able to cover the costs of providing essential services.
In our regional bus business around 30% of revenue is derived from contracts and concessionary income. In the vast majority of cases, local authorities across the country have agreed to continue paying for these services at pre-crisis levels. The Bus Services Operators Grant, relating to fuel duty, will also continue to be paid at the same levels as before the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK.
In line with other measures undertaken to ensure the sustainability of the business, the Board and the Executive Directors have decided to take a 20% reduction in fees and base salaries during this challenging period.
Go-Ahead Group plc CEO, David Brown, said:
“The health and wellbeing of our colleagues and customers continues to be our priority. Go-Ahead’s companies have extensive cleaning regimes and guidance is being provided to customers to maintain social distancing when travelling on our services.
“Our companies continue to provide an essential service during this crisis, and I would like to thank colleagues across the business who are working tirelessly to ensure these vital services keep running. People in key roles such as NHS workers, emergency services and those in the food supply chain depend upon these services, and our companies have been liaising with local authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that timetables meet their needs.
“We are really pleased the Government has moved quickly to recognise the necessity of providing these vital lifelines and is working with the bus industry to ensure services continue in a sustainable manner.”