Transport secretary Grant Shapps has allocated £283m to bus and light rail services across the country, including funding for Manchester’s Metrolink until the end of July.
The funding is made up of £254m for buses and £29m for trams and light rail, and is intended to increase services to ensure there is enough space for passengers to observe social distancing guidelines.
Metrolink has been granted £13m.
This month also saw the Government allocating local authorities £225m to create pop up and permanent cycle lanes and reallocate road space, with the North West securing £33m from the pot. Around £500,000 has been put aside for making increased space at train stations for cycle spaces.
While the lifting of lockdown restrictions has meant more people have been returning to work, the Government advice has also been to avoid public transport where possible, leading to challenges over how to avoid congestion on roads, as well as how to increase capacity on public transport networks to allow for social distancing.
The use of Manchester’s Metrolink and Liverpool’s Merseyrail services dropped significantly during lockdown, with the drop in passenger numbers resulting in a significant reduction in revenue. Both services were running a reduced timetable but are set to return to normal this week.
In April, city region mayors Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham warned that, without Government funding, the networks could cease to operate and called on politicians to provide a support package.
Andy Burnham, metro mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Today’s announcement by the transport secretary gives us most of what we need to keep running Metrolink for the next two months and I would like to thank him for listening to the concerns I have raised.
“Of course, concerns remain about what will happen from August. I believe the recovery process in cities like ours would be strengthened by having the ability to plan for the longer-term. Last week, ministers announced a funding package for London that runs until October and I would encourage them to consider extending the timetable for Greater Manchester’s deal in the same way.
“We fully support the Government’s ambitions on creating more space for cycling and walking and welcome the additional funding that has been announced. The political consensus around prioritising active travel is becoming stronger by the day and this is emerging as one area where the country is set to build back better.”