The Scottish Government has given bus operators a further £35.4 million to maintain services during Covid-19.

The investment means up to £252.7 million has been given to the sector during the pandemic, although spending in the last financial year is forecast to be more than £70 million less than the cash made available by Government.

Covering the period from the end of this month until early October, the funding is expected to cover the earnings gap for operators caused by limited passenger numbers due to physical distancing measures and remote working.

Transport minister Graeme Dey said: “Bus services have played a vital role in keeping Scotland moving safely during the coronavirus pandemic – helping people attend vaccination appointments and other essential travel, as well as starting to return to some sense of normality.

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“This additional funding of up to £35.4 million means we can continue to fund operators between June and October, helping to fill the gap between the additional costs of running services due to Covid-19 and reduced ticket income while vital restrictions remain in place and demand is suppressed.

“While we will continue to do all we can to support our bus industry and our public transport network, it is important that the public continue to follow the most up-to-date travel guidance and to walk, wheel or cycle where possible.

“As restrictions ease further, we’re asking everyone to play their part in maintaining a safe travel environment for everyone who needs it.”

Paul White, director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport in Scotland, welcomed the announcement and added: “This funding extension will help meet the costs associated with running the network at a reduced capacity.”