The light rail networks that serve Liverpool and Greater Manchester city regions may have to suspend operations as severely reduced passenger numbers hit revenues, metro mayors Steve Rotheram and Andy Burnham said.
The leaders warned that, without Government funding, the networks could cease to operate and called on politicians to provide a support package to keep services operational.
Manchester Metrolink generates, on average, £6m a month for Greater Manchester, according to Burnham, but he told journalists on Tuesday that the figure has dropped to less than £1m per month since the Government imposed lockdown restrictions amid the Covid-19 outbreak. Passenger numbers have fallen 95% compared to the usual monthly average, Burnham said.
Rotheram echoed Burnham’s concerns, saying that Merseyrail is “keeping its head above water”, but that passenger numbers are down 83% compared to the monthly average of previous years.
Burnham said: “In the absence of support, we are being forced into a corner and I make that appeal to Government to work with us and recognise that economic recovery will require a functioning transport system.
“We are weeks into this now and don’t have an answer for Metrolink.”
Rotheram added: “The fare box has literally fallen through the floor. We are still running services that need staffing, but we aren’t getting the returns through the revenue stream, so something will need to happen.
“Although the Government has helped nationally with rail, we need a local settlement. The Government has been slow and it needs to help us now and step up the pace.”