A cash boost of almost £400 million has been granted to ensure bus services throughout England continue to run during the coronavirus crisis.

The financial package of £397 million is designed to keep key routes open so those who rely up on them, such as NHS staff, can continue to use services to carry out critical work.

The cash, which was agreed upon by the government and bus industry, includes new funding of £167 million, which will be delivered over three months, an extra £30 million to safeguard services, on top of an existing pledge to provide £200 million in investment.

As a condition of the new Covid-19 Bus Services Support Grant, bus operators must run services frequent enough to ensure passengers can maintain social distancing.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it's "absolutely vital" that government does all it can to ensure critical workers can rely upon bus routes.

He said: "This multi-million-pound investment will protect crucial local transport links across England, bolstering the sector and minimising disruption for passengers in the long term."

"We have been very clear during the outbreak that the best way to stop the spread of the virus and protect the NHS, is to stay at home if possible," he added.

"Our buses are a lifeline for people who need to travel for work or to buy food – including our emergency services and NHS staff – and it’s absolutely vital we do all we can to keep the sector running."

Operators will be required to keep passengers properly informed about revised timetables to ensure that people know which services are running and when.

Councils have been encouraged to maintain existing subsidies for concessions to ensure older and disabled people can still travel when they need to.

The government said the existing pledge of £200 million in investment under the Bus Services Operators Grant will "continue to be paid as normal even though not all services may run during this time".

The additional £30 million, which had been originally earmarked for starting new services, will instead be paid to local authorities to maintain existing services.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, said: "It’s vital people protect our NHS by staying at home during the outbreak – but we also need to ensure that doctors, nurses and other key workers, can travel to and from their jobs.

"This funding will provide a lifeline for those on the frontline as well as those who cannot work from home."

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