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Payments to be cut for cross-GLA bus routes


24 July 2020

London Councils has published proposals to gradually withdraw special Covid-19 payments to non-TfL bus operators who provide routes entering Greater London.

Seventeen bus operators provide 36 routes that straddle the Greater London Authority boundary. London boroughs normally reimburse them just under £1m a year for carrying Freedom Pass holders. 

Boroughs are currently complying with the DfT’s request that councils continue paying concessionary travel reimbursement at pre-Covid-19 levels, to help stop operators from going bust.

But Stephen Boon, London Councils’ chief contractor officer, told the transport and environment committee that continuing to do so was “not financially viable for boroughs given their own budgetary pressures”. 

London Councils proposes that operators continue to be paid according to pre-Covid Freedom Pass trip rates until the end of the second quarter of 2020/21 (end of September). 

In quarter three, payment will fall to 75 per cent and in quarter four it will fall to 50 per cent. Operators will be paid according to actual journey numbers in 2021/22.  

London Councils transport and environment committee will be asked to approve the final proposal in October. 

The biggest recipients of Freedom Pass payments are Arriva the Shires, FirstGroup, and Arriva Kent. Their payments in each of the first two quarters of 2020/21 will be £60,844, £39,166, and £30,443 respectively. 

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