June 22 2022

Continuation of vital Covid recovery grant (Network Support Grant Plus (NSG+)) will help bus passengers and provide space for operators to plan for the future

CPT Scotland welcomes the announcement today (22nd June 2022) that Transport Scotland are extending NSG+ for the bus sector until 9th of October 2022.

NSG + was introduced to help cover the difference between reduced revenue and increasing costs, largely due to the continuing impact of Covid-19.  The £40m scheme was frontloaded to give support to the network primarily over the first four months of the financial year. However, CPT was informed in May the scheme would likely end early.

CPT Scotland has been working with its members to make the case to government that this vital grant needed to continue at current rates to provide a protective roadmap through the summer. In the autumn, the bus network will hopefully be in a stronger position due to the return of students, an increase in commuter travel, and the expected launch of a government supported national marketing campaign to encourage people to take the bus.

The bus sector is facing the most challenging landscape it has ever faced. We are experiencing driver shortages, surging fuel, energy, maintenance, and staff costs, along with supressed passenger numbers, as people’s travel patterns evolve and concerns about the safety of public transport use post-Covid linger. Many of these challenges will remain when NSG+ ends in October and difficult decisions will continue to have to be made as our bus networks adapt this year to the ever-changing landscape. However, although this funding will not stop all changes currently happening now, continuation of NSG+ funding until October will likely help mitigate the scale of changes that will be required come October.

Paul White, CPT Scotland Director, says:

“We welcome that Transport Scotland has listened to the concerns of the bus sector about the impact this would have had on passengers and agreed to continue vital recovery funding until October this year. By working constructively with Transport Scotland and securing this funding, CPT Scotland hopes bus operators now have the certainty and time to carefully consider what routes and services may look like in a world where transport needs are evolving, making sure they provide the best possible services to passengers. Today’s announcement means this recovery and planning can happen while the sector continues to operate a comprehensive network of sustainable, reliable, and affordable services, rather than to the likely background of deeper cuts that would have followed had a continuation of funding not been forthcoming.”

Notes to editors

  • Confederation of Passenger Transport Scotland is the trusted voice of the bus and coach sector, with over 100 members across Scotland.
  • CPT’s Scotland Director Paul White is available for interview upon request.
  • CPT Scotland’s contact details: Paul White, CPT Scotland Director, M: 07300 444 444 E: paul.white@cpt-uk.org
  • The Network Support Grant Plus is currently paid at 79.4 pence per kilometre, the NSG+ rate is intended to help offset lost revenue while patronage recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The current NSG+ rate will be paid out until 14th August 2022. From 15th August until 9th October a reduced rate of 50.4ppkm will be paid.
  • After October 9th operators will revert to the standard Network Support Grant rate of 14.4 pence per kilometre, this is intended to contribute to the costs of running services primarily to keep fares down and less viable services run. It replaces the previous Bus Services Operator Grant (BSOG).
  • Latest figures show average passenger rates at 75% of pre- COVID-19 levels across Scotland.
  • Latest survey by CPT Scotland shows overall cost increases for operators over 20% in last 12 months- Most notably,
    • Average fuel costs rises of around 30% for most operators across Scotland, with some smaller operators reporting increases over 60%.
    • 100-250% increases in utility prices which are causing huge increases in depot costs as well as powering electric buses
    • Most operators’ staff costs have gone up over 10% in last year
    • Tyres have gone up in price around 20%
    • Price of most spare parts has gone up by around 15%.
  • During the pandemic (up to April 2022) bus operators have been unable to make any profits due to conditions set in the Covid Support Grant- which was needed to support bus routes and passengers during height of pandemic.
  • Facts About Buses in Scotland and the Myths they Challenge