Steer report highlights the need for continued COVID-19 financial support for public transport

Steer has produced a new report for the Urban Transport Group, the UK’s network of city region transport authorities, highlighting the risk to local public transport services should the UK government cease COVID-19 financial support.

The report emphasises the importance of the Government’s funding support thus far, which allowed public transport to continue running during the national lockdown (enabling key workers to travel to and from work) and now to provide a comprehensive service at a lower, socially distanced capacity following the end of lockdown.

Our report, however, reveals that should financial aid be withdrawn prematurely, both bus and light rail systems would suffer. Likely impacts include:

  • a minimum reduction in bus services of between 30% and 40%
  • pressure to increase public transport fares, which would also have a negative impact on passenger numbers
  • increasing pressure on local transport authorities to step in and procure socially necessary bus services (but with increasingly limited budgets to act)
  • temporary closures of tram and light rail systems

Our findings is that local public transport demand is likely to be well below pre-COVID levels for some time. Local public transport faces a situation where its core demand has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic-induced recession, while at the same time provision of local public transport is particularly important if people are to be able to return to employment. Maintaining local public transport supply is therefore integral to the post-pandemic recovery.

Our team produced this report to support the Urban Transport Group’s Comprehensive Spending Review submission on the HM Treasury in which it recommends a number of approaches to closing the COVID-19 funding gap for public transport towards longer-term funding arrangements.

Read the full report – The COVID-19 funding gap: The case for continuing support for urban public transport


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