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FIRSTGROUP PLC - Statement re UK government funding for bus industry

·3-min read

FIRSTGROUP PLC STATEMENT RE:
UK GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR BUS INDUSTRY

FirstGroup plc (‘FirstGroup’ or ‘the Group’) welcomes the announcement by the Department for Transport (‘DfT’) of a bus recovery funding package to support the provision of vital services by regional bus operators in England as pandemic restrictions ease.

The new funding of £226.5m over six months will reinforce delivery of local bus services across England as passenger numbers rebuild. The funding package will support the industry’s transition away from the COVID-19 Bus Service Support Grant (‘CBSSG’) programme, which has been in place since May 2020 and will formally come to end on 1 September with the introduction of the new package.

In keeping with the industry, passenger volumes in First Bus have seen an encouraging increase in recent weeks, particularly since certain restrictions on travel began to ease from April.

In March, FirstGroup welcomed the publication of the National Bus Strategy in England, which provides a clear framework and substantial funding for bus operators and local government to work together to increase bus use, reduce urban congestion and accelerate the transition to zero emissions. First Bus has already built close and effective relationships with many local transport authorities across the UK, and continues to work to develop the Bus Service Improvement Plans and future statutory partnerships with stakeholders that will deliver on the full potential of the National Bus Strategy, and the similar strategies in place in the other nations of the UK.

Commenting on today’s announcement, First Bus Managing Director Janette Bell said:

“We welcome today’s announcement by UK Government of a bus recovery funding package for England which will ensure that an effective bus network can be provided for customers as the economy and the communities we serve emerge from the pandemic.

"We will continue to build on the successful partnerships we have created with local authorities to meet our customers’ needs by developing joint plans for further improvements and innovation over the coming months. It is vital that Government continues to work together with us to encourage more people onto buses in order to deliver economic revival, improve air quality and meet the UK’s net zero ambitions.”

Contacts at FirstGroup:
Faisal Tabbah, Head of Investor Relations
Stuart Butchers, Group Head of Communications
corporate.comms@firstgroup.com
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7725 3354

Contacts at Brunswick PR:
Andrew Porter / Simone Selzer, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7404 5959

Legal Entity Identifier (LEI): 549300DEJZCPWA4HKM93. Classification as per DTR 6 Annex 1R: 3.1.

About FirstGroup
FirstGroup plc (LSE: FGP.L) is a leading provider of transport services in the UK and North America. With £7.8bn in revenue in the year to 31 March 2020 and around 100,000 employees, we transported 2.1bn passengers. Whether for business, education, health, social or recreation – we get our customers where they want to be, when they want to be there. We create solutions that reduce complexity, making travel smoother and life easier. We provide easy and convenient mobility, improving quality of life by connecting people and communities. Visit our website at www.firstgroupplc.com and follow us @firstgroupplc on Twitter.

About First Bus
First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks. We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland.

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