Transport Secretary pronounces as much as £three million for coach companies to satisfy Christmas journey demand
- Up to GBP 3 million are to be made available to provide up to 80,000 additional seats in bus transport over the Christmas travel window (December 23-27, 2020).
- This is in addition to the recently announced measures to support safe travel during the holiday season
- Passengers are asked to plan carefully, book in advance, and follow directions if they choose to travel
Today (December 12, 2020) Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a support package worth up to £ 3 million to allow bus companies to offer additional scheduled services over the Christmas travel window.
The government is working with the bus industry including National Express, Megabus and Snap, which together offer a network of bus services for the UK, to ensure that additional scheduled services are offered over the Christmas travel window (December 23-27), including on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
People are reminded that whatever they choose to travel this Christmas, they must plan carefully and book in advance if possible to avoid disappointment as availability may be limited and they may not be able to to travel with their preferred service.
You should also make sure that they:
- disinfect your hands regularly
- Wear face covering unless otherwise specified
- social distance where possible when traveling
Bus companies are currently operating reduced networks due to the impact of COVID-19 on demand. With the financing announced today, bus companies can increase the services to up to 75% of prepandemic services and thus bring more people safely into their Christmas bubble if they wish. The move will provide up to 80,000 additional seats.
The government has stipulated that people can travel between December 23rd and 27th to form a Christmas bubble made up of no more than three households. Anyone traveling to or from Northern Ireland can travel on December 22nd and 28th.
To minimize disruption and help people get into their bladder safely, the government set out a number of measures last week, including:
- Lifting hundreds of kilometers of road works
- Improvement of rail transport
- Postponement and acceleration of rail construction work
- Lower ticket fees
The new support for public buses builds on this and ensures that people have alternative travel options if the pressure on rail transport occurs.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
We have already taken important steps to ensure that the trips for Christmas go as smoothly as possible. Today’s funding announcement for the bus sector goes a step further, ensuring more options are available for people who want to travel to celebrate with loved ones and friends.
We remind everyone that it is important to plan and book your trip in advance, be considerate of other passengers and employees on our transport network and follow instructions, including staying seated and wearing a face covering for public transport, unless this is excluded.
Sir Peter Hendy, Christmas Travel Coordinator said:
This is very much to be welcomed as it offers additional and flexible COVID-safe public transportation for the Christmas season. I will continue to ensure transport supplies so we can get everyone to their Christmas bubbles safely. Please book early to achieve this.
Alison Edwards, Head of Policy at the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, said:
The pandemic has made it difficult to operate public buses. It is welcome to see this recognized by the government. Tour buses are an important means of transport during the Christmas season and run throughout the entire Christmas season, including Christmas Day. This funding means more coaches on our roads to help people travel safely and to ease general pressure on public transport.
Chris Hardy, General Manager of National Express Coach said:
Maintaining the UK’s largest public service bus network has been a challenge, but we have worked hard to ensure safe, low-carbon travel over the Christmas season.
With this financing we can increase the frequency of some routes, introduce new direct connections and add additional locations to our timetable from December 23rd to 27th.
We will first double the mileage of the network and further increase the number of vehicles and seats available on routes as needed. Thanks to the flexibility of bus traffic, we can respond to demand and increase capacity quickly and safely by taking Covid-Secure measures.
Mark Venables, Managing Director of Megabus said:
Public transport continues to play an important role in networking communities. This is even more important this year as people travel to reunite with their families and loved ones for Christmas.
We are delighted to have worked with the UK Department of Transport to provide thousands of extra seats on our Megabus buses this Christmas and we will be driving direct throughout the Christmas season, including Christmas Day.
Places are selling fast so we urge people to plan ahead and book their trip as soon as possible. Our Megabus services offer safe, environmentally friendly, easy, hassle-free and flexible travel and are a great alternative to traveling by car.
Thomas Ableman, Snap’s founder and CEO said:
We love to help people see their families for Christmas. Our network of local bus companies of incredible quality is ready to get people where they need to go with safety and a smile. We know people really appreciated their local small businesses this year. So you are sure to keep doing this by booking your trip through Snap with a local bus company.