Tyne and Wear Metro gets fourth bailout due to Covid pandemic

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Nexus says the system 'continues to face the biggest challenge in its 40 year history'

The Tyne and Wear Metro is to get an extra £8m help to keep services running for the next three months, while Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The emergency government transport funding will cover operating costs and replaces fare and other revenue losses incurred due to the pandemic.

It adds to the £39m of government bailouts received during the pandemic.

Nexus, the public body which owns and manages it, said the cash was "vital" with low passenger numbers.

At the height of the first national coronavirus lockdown, the Metro was losing almost £1m every week as passenger numbers plummeted by up to 95%.

Passenger numbers are now at about 30% of normal times.

'Recovery could take years'

John Fenwick, director of finance and resources, said the system "continues to face the biggest challenge in its 40 year history".

Labour councillor Martin Gannon, chairman of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said he welcomed the funding but wanted "further talks" with government over the "longer term picture".

"It is going to take months, maybe even years, for public transport to recover from the effects of the pandemic on ridership.

"We need the government to commit its support throughout that recovery period."

The emergency funding is part of £33m announced to support local transport networks across England.

Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: "As the country opens up in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we want light rail and tram services to be available to passengers and running as normal.

"That's why we're continuing to fund these vital transport systems, ensuring that they're available now and are ready for people to use when restrictions ease."

A review on further funding will be made within the next 11 weeks, the government added.

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