Calls for Government to support transport links following COVID-19 economic shock 

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Metro Mayor
Credit: Liverpool City Region

With COVID-19 seeing passenger numbers, and therefore revenues, drop to very low numbers, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram has warned many local transport links could have to take drastic actions to survive.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected businesses across the UK, especially passenger transport related firms. Since the lockdown was put into place in late March, advice has been to avoid using public transport where possible, a policy still ongoing on the railways.

Although this is essential to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and free up capacity for key workers across the UK, the falls in revenues have major implications for transport companies.

Passenger fare income has plummeted up to 90% in some cases in just the Merseyside area, let alone the whole UK.

To start the process of resolving the issues Steve Rotheram sees across his region, he addressed the actions he would like to see in front of the Parliament’s Transport Select Committee via a video call.

These actions being:

  1. Government to provide significant, flexible and long-term funding for local transport services.
  2. For transport support funding to go directly to Mayors and transport authorities, who plan region-wide services, rather than going to private bus and rail companies.
  3. Government to make the powers in the Bus Services Act easier to use, to give Mayors greater flexibility in planning and delivering improved local buses.

These measures would hopefully allow for the key transport links to be provided with the funding required to keep operating and run services fit and which meet the needs of it’s users.

Steve Rotheram commented saying: “I want to build a truly integrated transport network in the Liverpool City Region, one that is affordable, reliable and simple. Devolution gives us the chance to change our transport system for the better by giving local people more control over the way their transport network is run. The Coronavirus has obviously disrupted our plans, but I am trying to work with Government in a way that will help our region through this crisis and enable us to build the world-class transport network we deserve.

I have been doing everything within my power to protect people’s safety while keeping the region moving but this crisis has exposed the problems with the way our country does public transport. The status quo is unsustainable for local transport. Without significant support from central government, many authorities will be forced to make cuts which will seriously damage our economic recovery.”

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