A support package worth up to £3 million that will enable coach operators to provide additional scheduled services over the Christmas travel window, has been announced by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on December 12th.
The government is working with the coach industry, including National Express, megabus and Snap – who together provide a network of coach services covering Great Britain – to ensure extra scheduled services are provided over the Christmas travel window (23 to 27 December), including on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
People are reminded that however they choose to travel this Christmas, they must plan carefully and book ahead where possible to avoid disappointment, as availability could become limited and they may not be able to travel on their preferred service.
They should also make sure they:
- regularly sanitise their hands
- wear a face-covering unless exempt
- social distance where possible while travelling
Coach operators are currently running reduced networks due to the impact of COVID-19 on demand. The funding announced today will enable scheduled coach operators to boost services to up to 75% of pre-pandemic services – helping more people travel safely to their Christmas bubble should they wish. The move will make up to an additional 80,000 seats available.
The government has set out that people can travel to form a Christmas bubble, composed of no more than 3 households, between 23 and 27 December. Anyone travelling to or from Northern Ireland may travel on the 22 and 28 December.
To minimise disruption and help people travel safely to their bubble, the government set out a series of measures last week, including:
- lifting 100s of miles of roadworks
- enhancing rail services
- postponing and accelerating rail engineering works
- cutting ticket charges
The new support for scheduled coach services builds on this and ensures that, should there be pressure on rail services, people will have alternative travel options.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: "We’ve already set out important measures so journeys can run as smoothly as possible this Christmas. Today’s funding announcement for the coach sector goes one step further, ensuring there are more options available for people wanting to travel to celebrate with loved ones and friends. We remind everyone that it’s essential to plan their journey and book ahead, be considerate of other passengers and staff across our transport network, and follow the guidance, including keeping space and wearing a face covering, unless exempt, on public transport."
Alison Edwards, Head of Policy at The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, said: "The pandemic has made it challenging to run scheduled coach services. It’s welcome to see this recognised by government. Coaches provide a vital means of transport during the Christmas period and will be running throughout the festive period, including on Christmas Day. This funding will mean more coaches on our roads to help people travel safely and ease overall pressure on public transport."
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