Urban Transport Group responds to new Plan B rules on COVID

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Urban Transport Group has responded to the Government’s decision to move to Plan B rules to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID.

The new rules, which include asking people to work from home where they can, were announced by the Prime Minister yesterday evening.

Responding to the news, Laura Shoaf, Chair of the Urban Transport Group and Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said:

“As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, as transport authorities we will continue to support local economies by supporting and investing in public transport. However, the work from home guidance will inevitably affect public transport revenue when patronage had already started to plateau even before the emergence of the new Omicron variant. This adds to a cocktail of factors, which also includes uncertain and fragmented funding and driver shortages, which we fear could result in significant reductions in urban public transport networks. This would also undermine both the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the National Bus Strategy and the wider levelling up agenda.

“The Plan B announced yesterday underlines the need for a new deal on funding for urban public transport which routes sufficient, long term and consolidated funding to city region transport authorities so that we can maintain and protect public transport networks during this extremely challenging period.”