The scheme will provide direct grants to compensate PSO operators for losses incurred while providing services between March 15 and August 31 2020.  

The Dutch government closed schools, childcare centres, cafes and restaurants, extended home office arrangements and social distancing rules, and placed restrictions on gatherings and events in order to contain the virus.  

These measures have severely affected regional and long-distance public transport. Passenger numbers fell to as low as 90% year-on-year, resulting in a significant drop in revenue. However, operators continued to incur the cost of operating an almost complete service.  

The EC says the situation was exacerbated by the additional costs of enhanced sanitary and hygiene measures to maintain public safety. This has led to serious liquidity problems, which the EC says has the risk of driving many operators out of the market.  

The government will ensure that individual operators do not receive more in compensation than they suffer in damages, and any payment in excess of the actual damage will be recovered.  

“Continuing to provide transport services to citizens is essential during the coronavirus outbreak,” says executive vice-president, Ms Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of the EC’s competition policy. 

“We continue working with all member states to ensure that national support measures can be put in place as quickly and effectively as possible, in line with EU rules.”