TRANSDEV – which operates Keighley Bus Company – has welcomed a Government funding package to support vital bus services during the coronavirus pandemic.

The package, agreed jointly with operators, includes up to £167 million of new funding.

Ministers have also agreed to underwrite an existing £200m investment in the country's bus network.

Plus, up to £30m of extra funds – originally earmarked for starting new services – will now be paid to local authorities to maintain existing ones.

The extra cash will be made available to operators for at least 12 weeks, under a new COVID-19 bus services support grant.

As a condition of the funding, bus companies will be required to maintain essential services.

Whilst passenger demand has slumped as a result of the 'stay at home' advice, reduced-frequency timetables are in place to provide for NHS staff and other key workers.

Transdev's chief executive officer, Alex Hornby, said: "This welcome funding announcement will help us protect our bus network and will ensure that our colleagues can carry on helping key workers to travel to and from work, while protecting thousands of jobs across England’s bus industry.

“The Government and the industry have worked quickly and decisively here, and whilst challenges remain, this package will safeguard the future of bus networks here and across the north and ensure we are ready to get the country back on its feet once this crisis is over.

“We’ve been humbled by the hundreds of messages of support we’ve received from our customers for our efforts to continue providing an essential service. My sincere appreciation goes out to all our colleagues at Transdev who have been incredible in their efforts to keep people moving, and we remain totally committed in protecting them in their work."

Throughout the pandemic, Transdev is constantly reviewing and updating information on its bus operator websites, with updated timetables also available via its Transdev Go mobile app.

Councillor Kim Groves, chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority transport committee, said: "Buses are important to get key people to work during these difficult times. The massive fall in the number of people using public transport is welcome in the context of the response to coronavirus but it is putting huge financial pressure on transport authorities and operators.

"Funding from the Government and the combined authority will go some way to alleviating that pressure in the short term and we will be working with our partners in the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance to ensure this money helps support a resilient bus network for key workers and to ensure those that need to travel can do so while following social distancing guidelines.

"However, the impact of coronavirus will require a longer-term strategy for the recovery of the public transport network when the pandemic has passed."