Metro gets further £8.5million bailout from Government
The Metro system has been given another £8.5million from the government to keep trains running as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to hit passenger numbers.
The cash, a third round of support confirmed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, is expected to prop up the struggling network until the end of October.
However, the 12-week grant is not the guaranteed long-term package of funding North East transport chiefs were hopeful of securing.
Nexus chief operating officer, Martin Kearney, said: “This is vital funding support that will enable us to sustain Metro services while customer numbers continue to recover.
“The Covid-19 crisis has had a major impact on Metro journeys and they remain around 40% of what we would normally expect. There has been gradual growth since lockdown has eased, shops have re-opened, and more people have returned to work, which is positive news.
“However, we expect the recovery to be slow going, which is why Government support is essential for Metro.
“We remain on dialogue with the Government about longer-term funding support for the services we deliver.”
Metro has now received a total of £24.7million from the government since May.
But bosses had been hoping for a long-term guarantee that the Department for Transport (DfT) would cover its losses until passenger numbers return back to normal levels.
The government has confirmed that it will be giving rolling support to bus companies – who will get £218million over the next eight weeks, plus up to £27.3million per week after that until funding “is no longer needed”.
Money for the Metro and other light rail networks will be reviewed at the end of this 12-week period, the DfT confirmed.
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “As we continue to open up the economy, more people are using public transport and need sufficient service levels in order to travel safely.
“That’s why we took swift action at the start of this outbreak to ensure that these services were maintained for key workers then – and would still be there for people when the economy opened back up.
“This extension of funding pushes our overall support past £700million, meaning people across the country will have access to the transport services they need.”