Public transport may be 'mothballed' say cities' mayors

City centre public transport services may have to be mothballed if they do not receive Government support, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has said.

In a joint press conference with Liverpool City Region metro mayor Steve Rotheram on Tuesday, Mr Burnham said passenger numbers on Manchester's Metrolink tram service were 95% down due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Mr Rotheram said the Merseyrail services, which operate in Liverpool and surrounding areas, were losing £1.2 million a week.

Last month, the Department for Transport announced traditional rail franchise agreements would be suspended to avoid train companies collapsing, but Mr Burnham and Mr Rotheram said the light rail systems in their cities had not been given any support.

They called for Government support as they spoke about plans for the North West to recover economically following the pandemic.

Mr Burnham said:

He said a deal was needed in "days rather than weeks".

Mr Rotheram said that in Merseyside they were "determined" to keep the services going but were reducing to a core service for essential workers.

During the press conference, which was held remotely, Mr Burnham also called for more funding for local authorities and for the regions to have a "seat at the table" of a national recovery council, as proposed by the TUC.

He said:

Mr Rotheram added: