The majority of the €18.17 million allocated – €11.8 million – will be received by bus operators, while €6.37 million will be received by passenger train operators.
Ivo Ošenieks, president of the Latvian Passenger Transport Association (LPPA), explained that local bus carriers were more affected by the pandemic due to pupils not going to school.
“A large part of bus transport ensures the rides for pupils [to and from schools]. If we watch trends in the spring on the passenger train, the drop was there, but not as pronounced as in buses. There is a smaller drop in intercity coach transport, students are no longer travelling. But the most critical thing is with local transportation transporting pupils (..).
Unfortunately, there is no money to cover losses in November, but we hope that the state will not wait until the companies go bankrupt,” Ošenieks said.
Kristiāns Godiņš, Chairman of the Board of the Road Transport Directorate, said that in January this year 100 000 passengers were transported by buses and only 25 000 in March and April. In September, when schools resumed, 84 000 passengers were travelling daily, now their numbers have declined again. The closure of each route or the reduction in the number of rides is subject to careful analysis.
“In September, out of the 1900 rides cancelled in the spring, only 200 were not renewed. We have decided in November to cancel 20 rides temporarily until we can see how the situation is changing,” explained Godiņš.
He also acknowledged that without improving the situation with COVID-19 spread and restrictions, €18.17 million is likely to be insufficient to cover losses. “I can't rule out the possibility that more money would be needed at the end of the year. It is likely that (..) more funding than the standard will also be needed in 2021,” Godiņš said.