Funding will not be cut to help South Yorkshire buses and trams companies 'severely' hit by Covid

South Yorkshire council leaders will agree not to cut the county’s transport levy used to help fund bus and tram services.

Thursday, 21st January 2021, 7:00 am

Figures show passenger levels have not risen above 60 per cent in pre-Covid-19 times on buses and 40 per cent on trams.

SCR bosses have said the pandemic has had a ‘significant impact’ on the public transport network.

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The transport levy is expected to be frozen in South Yorkshire when councillors meet

Initial restrictions followed by wider social-distancing measures have deeply affected public transport patronage, leading to a dramatic collapse in farebox income, they said.

A report seen by councillors also says if services left without support, the current level of passenger reduction would ‘likely lead to the systematic withdrawal of commercially unviable services’ and potentially the collapse of operators.

The transport levy contribution, calculated in terms of population, will be frozen at £54 million with Sheffield paying 41 per cent of the bill at £22.5 million.

Doncaster will pay £12 million, Rotherham £10.2 million and Barnsley £9.5 million.

For most of the last decade, the levy has seen reductions to reflect a decrease in Government finances to councils.

Since 2010, the annual levy has fallen by £40.3m from £94.7m to £54.4m for financial year 2020/21. Adjusting for inflation, this represents a cumulative reduction of over 50 per cent.

Gareth Sutton, SCR group finance director said: “Of most immediate concern are the intentions of Government beyond March.

“Whilst government has committed to a support package to January 2021, with an expectation of an extension of that support to March, there is little concrete support beyond that point.

“A withdrawal of government support, in full or in part, before patronage returns to sustainable levels will disturb the sensitive equilibrium that currently exists, and likely precipitate a request from operators for greater local subsidy or risk service withdrawals.

“The MCA does not have the resource to backfill a withdrawal of government support on a sustainable basis and recognises that a call on additional levy contributions at this time would be difficult.

“Maintaining the levy at £54.36m will support current investment levels and support mitigation of risk.”

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