The Government Department for Transport have allocated two more rounds of funding to the Tyne and Wear Metro between the end of October and the end of March 2021.
This brings the total financial support it has received since the start of the pandemic to £33.2 million. The money will be given in two instalments: one of £8.5 million lasting until January, and a similar amount to follow until March if needed.
This announcement comes, in the words of the Metro operator Nexus, as it ‘faces the biggest financial crisis in its 40-year history’. With passenger numbers currently at 35% of normal levels, the underground transport system has been struggling to meet its operating costs and cover fare and commercial revenue losses. Bosses now report a weekly deficit of about £500, 000. Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, welcomed the emergency funding, but said, “we need longer term certainty to avoid future cuts which would have a significant impact on the North East economy.”
Indeed, cuts are already being made as ticket prices, which usually increase every January, are set to be frozen until April as talks continue on how to make the Metro more financially stable amid passenger losses. It’s clear that the pandemic is taking its toll on this key public service for the North East.
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