Written by Kunal Sawhney, CEO, Kalkine Group
The government of the United Kingdom has thoroughly supported all the departments, allocating sufficient fundings to revive the critical functions across the country. In a bid to improve transportation services while the country prepares to withdraw the social distancing guidelines, paving the way for large indoor as well as outdoor gatherings, the government has assigned a multi-million pound funding to maintain and improve the bus services.
Local and international travel have been widely affected by the repeated pandemic-induced curbs, while buses were allowed to service in a moderate frequency after the withdrawal of national lockdowns. Following the month-after-month of planned easements laid out in a phased manner, the local transportations services were given a green signal to operate with a larger frequency.
There is a certain likelihood that the number of daily travellers will escalate to the pre-pandemic levels following the abolition of social distancing guidelines. In order to swiftly accommodate the passengers on the existing infrastructure, the bus operators will be entitled to receive benefits from the £226.5 million in government funding.
The funding is designated to help the operators to make sure they continue to shuttle the bus services on adequate routes as they were doing so before the first national lockdown. The bus operators will remain eligible to receive monetary benefits from the funding between the active timeline as the funding is slated to run from September 2021 to April 2022.
Majorly, the bus operators across England, except London, will be supported under the scheme. The monetary grants, to be distributed to bus operators, will cushion the government’s commitment to levelling up the transport links, in line with the spike in the volume of passengers.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has received as many as 35 expressions of interest (EoI) for the share of the first tranche for the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme. Under the first issue, £120 million will be rolled out to introduce zero emission buses for which the local transport authorities across England will be competing for a share.
Moving forward, other local transport authorities will be announced as being selected to produce business cases under the standard procedure set by the DfT. The government is on track to launch a large number of zero emission buses on every major route, facilitating the services and connecting all the remote locations.
Earlier in March this year, the government announced a mega £3 billion fund to improve the bus connectivity and services under the national bus strategy. Both the schemes are outlined with an intention to achieve a net zero emission status by 2050, gradually reducing the carbon footprint in upcoming years.
The recovery fund of more than £200 million will be provided on a formula basis to ensure that the bus operators can return to full-scale commercial operations as the passengers return.
Additionally, the fund will encourage the local transport authorities, as well as bus operators, to work together with a comprehensive objective of delivering improved bus services and time-bound connectivity.