AsI write this Covid funding for bus services ends on March 31, concessions begin to reduce to actual levels (65% of passengers or thereabouts compared to pre-Covid), National Insurance and the minimum wage increase, and fuel costs continue their upwards spiral. Oh, and we’re all short of drivers who are looking for double-digit pay rises.
For a typical bus company, I estimate costs have risen by 11% since March 2020, and the March 31 changes alone will reduce revenue by 10%. It does not take an accounting genius to realise that there will be significant service cuts, both of commercial and tendered services. And as I write this in mid-February, none of the councils we work for have indicated what they plan to do, if anything. That’s England, however – the Scottish Government has announced its 2022/3 support scheme, so operators there can now plan with some certainty.
I understand both the Government and Local Authorities finances are severely stretched, and frankly if they don’t intend to do anything and services will be cut, so be it. But it would be nice to know. Because as real businesses faced with an overnight revenue drop we have to take action, and once services are cut and passengers are lost they will not return.