Coronavirus NHS free travel scheme to end from Monday 13th July

Merseytravel has confirmed that free travel for NHS workers will come to an end from Monday 13th July.

The scheme was one of the first regional free NHS travel schemes to be introduced during the coronavirus lockdown and is the last to be brought to an end.

Put in place when only essential travel was taking place, the scheme provided additional support to NHS staff during the height of the peak of COVID-19, allowing free travel for NHS staff on buses, rail and Mersey Ferries, rather than on single transport modes.

The scheme is being brought to an end now that the Government has taken several steps to ease lockdown measures – including reopening of retail and hospitality industries – and more people are travelling on public transport.

A vital consideration in this decision is the financial sustainability of the city region’s public transport network, which continues to operate with greatly reduced capacity due to ongoing social distancing measures. At the peak of the lockdown period, the Combined Authority, which oversees public transport in the region, was losing around £5m a month in revenues with operators incurring significantly reduced revenues from fares.

A spokesperson said:

“We all continue to have huge gratitude for the work and bravery our NHS heroes have shown during  the COVID-19 crisis and we were pleased to be able to offer a little additional support to them in the form of free transport.

“Our scheme started first and lasted the longest. But, now that lockdown has eased on several fronts and more people are travelling for work, retail and leisure reasons, it’s important that we now focus on making sure that the whole public transport system is financially sustainable going forward.”

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