Up to £9 million will be spent by the Scottish Government on “emergency support” for the Edinburgh Trams and the Glasgow Subway, it was announced today.
The cash will be made available to the transport providers from July until the end of September to help support services during the summer, and comes after “detailed discussions” with both Edinburgh Trams and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT).
Both companies have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic which has lead to plummeting passenger numbers and revenues.
Chair of Edinburgh Trams, Martin Dean, said the pandemic had been “challenging” for the transport operator.
He said: “Throughout this pandemic, we have continued to operate a service for our customers who are key workers or who’ve relied on us to make essential journeys.
“With strict social distancing requirements and significant loss of revenue, this has been challenging. However, our colleagues have acted quickly to make necessary changes to our services and worked with us to protect jobs through the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. For this, we are extremely proud.
“This funding will help to support our efforts and keep our services operational. However, 2020 will remain a challenging year for the organisation.”
The news comes less than a week after Edinburgh City Council announced their intention to re-organise the council-owned transport companies in the Capital.
If approved by councillors, the plans will see Edinburgh Trams and Lothian Buses merged into one company with more direct control by the council.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson said that restrictions to the Trams and the Subway would have lead to “unsustainable demands” on other modes of transport.
He said: ““The Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams provide key connections within our two biggest cities and as we emerge through the stages of lockdown demand for public transport will continue to rise. The services provide essential capacity and link with bus, rail and park and ride facilities.
“Over the next three months we will provide up to £9 million of financial support to operators to enable services to continue. Any restrictions on these services could have placed unsustainable demands on other modes, especially bus and so this funding will assist capacity across all public transport.
“I would like to thank all the people working across the light rail sector who have, and continue to, provide these important connections. These services have allowed our key workers and others who needed to travel for essential journeys to do so during very challenging circumstances. Going forward the subway and tram will help our wider society and economy recover as we emerge through the next phases of easing lockdown.
“We will continue to monitor the demand, capacity and costs of support across all transport modes over the coming months.”
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