The Metrolink could be shut down unless government bails it out "within days".
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has warned that the Manchester Metrolink system is currently "losing millions each month" and could be shut down unless the government provides extra funding for it within "days rather than weeks".
He has stated that regional leaders are very much at the point of considering "mothballing" the network until it receives a government bail out on a similar level to the one offered to rail and bus services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It is believed that a 95% drop in the number of passengers utilising the system over the last month or so could be the catalyst for the shutdown.
Speaking at a remote press conference this afternoon, along with the Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotherham, Mr Burnham said: “We are losing millions of pounds every month trying to run a public transport service in these circumstances."
“If there is no deal from the government in the way they’ve bailed out the bus and rail sectors, we are going to face the difficult decision of whether or not we need to mothball the Metrolink."
“It’s not something we have any wish to do because we want to support those crucial workers, those minimum wage heroes, because they still need to get to work for us."
"In absence of that [government] support, we are forced into a corner."
He continued: “We’re still weeks into this [lockdown] now and we don’t have an answer. Metrolink, in normal times, would bring in around £6 million a month and that is now down to well below £1 million."
“We cannot continue to face losses of this kind without any way of understanding how we will make that income up. Public transport would probably have to run with social distancing for some time, possibly months rather than weeks - the rest of this year."
"We’re going to need support to get public transport running to levels we would want to run again. I'm talking about a [government] deal within days rather than weeks."
Mr Burnham also added that he understands this is a move that is likely to cause inconvenience to NHS and social care staff using the system to commute to and from work, stating that: “They would find it difficult, and we don’t want that to happen.”
There has been no other official confirmation on the future of the Manchester Metrolink system as of yet, nor has a spokesperson from the Metrolink or TfGM responded to the comments by the Mayor of Greater Manchester.
More to follow.