How Northumberland's transport budgets have been bearing up during covid pandemic

The pandemic had very little impact on Northumberland’s public transport budget as bus subsidies continued to be paid in full.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 20th January 2021, 12:33 pm

A report to the Tuesday, January 19, meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee explained that the latest forecast indicates that the year-end position will be a £40,000 underspend on the original 2020-21 budget of £6.234million.

It explains that following the Covid-19 outbreak, the majority of supported services in the county (those subsidised partially or wholly by the council) – which account for £1.23million of the budget – continued to operate, albeit for the most part at a reduced frequency.

The county council ‘has continued to pay operators at full contracted prices with the exception of some seasonal services that had been due to commence from April 5, when these services were suspended until the resolution of the Covid-19 crisis or such point when it was deemed fit to resume’.

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The majority of the budget – £4.8million in the current year – relates to concessionary fares.

The local authority makes payments to operators under the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS), which entitles pass-holders to free off-peak travel after 9.30 am on local bus services.

But again, while patronage using the scheme was significantly reduced due to coronavirus, transport authorities continue to reimburse operators at pre-pandemic levels ‘to ensure the viability of routes and operators is maintained’ in line with Government guidance.

The 2021-22 public transport budget and levy for Northumberland will be £6.328million, an increase of £94,000 ‘due to an allowance for some inflation’.

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