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Transport / Overall bus income likely to slump by more than one third

INCOME from Shetland’s public buses in the 2020/21 financial year may be down by around £260,000 as result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to estimates.

The figure was presented to a meeting of Shetland transport partnership ZetTrans on Thursday.

Bus usage has been reduced significantly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly with people furloughed or working from home.

Shetland Islands Council finance manager Jamie Mason told Thursday’s meeting that ZetTrans’ books will still be balanced at the end of the year, with the drop in income having to met by increased subsidy from the council, which is the partnership’s core funder.

ZetTrans lead officer Michael Craigie, meanwhile, confirmed that a review of fare policy across all of Shetland’s public transport is set to be held with a report potentially coming to councillors in November.

It came after south mainland councillor Robbie McGregor questioned whether free bus travel could be an option to decrease people’s reliance on using cars.

Craigie said that free fares is one option that could be considered in the review.

He said the study would link into objectives around issues like active travel and carbon emissions.

The income from public buses is usually around £668,000 a year.