OXFORD City Council is calling for the government to provide support for bus companies so that doctors, nurses and other key workers can get to work.

On Monday, the Department for Transport provided new support for train companies, temporarily suspending normal train franchise agreements and transferring all risk to the government.

The government said this would 'ensure that trains necessary for key workers and essential travel continue to operate', adding that railways have already seen up to a 70 per cent drop in passenger numbers as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

But no similar support has been provided to bus companies – and Oxfordshire’s providers have seen up to a 90 per cent reduction in passenger numbers and are operating at a loss.

The only government support applicable to buses is to furlough staff, with the government then picking up 80 per cent of the wage bill during the furlough.

Oxford Bus Company has said there is no level of service it can keep running that will cover its costs.

Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council, said: “It is crucial that the government provides urgent support for Oxford’s bus companies – something similar to that already provided to rail companies – to ensure this does not happen.”