Coronavirus: Bus Operator Financial Assistance Scheme

News article

This scheme closed to applications on Friday 18 December 2020.

£5m scheme will target private coach and bus operators who have faced significant adverse impact as a result of the pandemic

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has opened a £5m financial assistance scheme for private coach and bus operators.

Eligible private coach and bus operators will receive £8,000 for the first vehicle and £4,450 for each additional vehicle in their fleet, or their actual loss for the period April to September if the loss is lower.

The scheme payment to an individual operator is capped at £100,000.

Scheme eligibility

To be eligible to apply for the scheme each private coach or bus operator must:

  • Hold a valid Northern Ireland bus operator licence and their main business activity needs to be the carriage of passengers and their luggage by road for reward. 
  • Demonstrate a loss of income due to COVID-19 over the period 1 April to 30 September 2020 of at least 40% compared to previous years.
  • Provide evidence of their income and expenditure from April to September 2020 and have this signed off by a qualified accountant.

The following are excluded from the scope of this scheme:

  • Translink
  • Education Authority
  • Any operator that has received funding from DFI under the Transport Act 2011 in the period beginning on 6 April 2020 and ending on 5 April 2021.
  • A bus operator licence holder where the transportation of passengers is ancillary to their main business, this includes but is not limited to, childcare facilities and car park shuttle services.
  • Operators that do not hold a Northern Ireland bus operators licence.

You can find more information on the DfI website about scheme eligibility criteria, including:

  • state aid
  • finance eligibility
  • exclusions

Documents needed when applying

To complete an application you must provide the following information:

  • A valid Northern Ireland bus operator licence.
  • V5 Registration documents for any bus or coach that was not listed on your licence on 23 March 2020 which you acquired between 1 January 2020 and 23 March 2020.
  • V5 Registration document and new vehicle order form supplied by a main agent or manufacturer showing that you ordered a newly manufactured bus or coach prior to 23 March 2020 and acquired it between 23 March 2020 and 30 September 2020.
  • During your application, you will be asked to submit financial information in the form of an electronic attachment and your accountant will be required to submit an electronic attachment declaration in support your finance eligibility.

How to apply

You can find full guidance on the scheme, the application process and download the required forms from the DfI website.

Bus Operator Financial Assistance Scheme - apply online

The scheme is open to applications until 23:59 on 18 December 2020. Late applications will not be accepted.

Applications will be processed as quickly as possible as they are received. It is expected that it may take up to 3 weeks to process applications.

Urgent queries about the scheme can be sent to, with 'Pre-application query' in the subject line of your email.

First published: 27 November 2020