May 11 2021
Carla Stockton-Jones, UK Managing Director of Stagecoach, writes this week’s blog post on the role buses will play in the recovery from Covid-19.
With all eyes now firmly on countdown to the likely full re-opening of the country on 21 June, there’s never been a more important time to highlight the vital role that public transport – particularly buses – will play in re-connecting people and safeguarding the economic future of the UK.
As pubs, restaurants, theatres and other hospitality venues prepare to fully open their doors, we are already hearing reports of restaurant tables being booked up for many months ahead. This is great news for the UK economy, particularly the struggling hospitality owners who have had a very rough time during the pandemic. But we need to ensure our transport infrastructure provides the ability to help the country recover and reconnect and help people to enjoy the things they want to do.
Buses have been absolutely crucial during the pandemic in helping to keep key workers moving and at every stage of the journey, we have adapted timetables, provided more capacity and done everything within our gift to make sure we could support our local communities.
As restrictions ease, the proportion of the population covered by the vaccine accelerates and more people begin to move safely around our towns and cities, it's critical public transport is treated consistently and is not left behind in the government’s Social Distancing Review. Guidelines on bus capacity need to adapt to the new environment so passengers can get to work easily, support local shops, bars and restaurants and re-connect safely with family and friends.
Bus operators have put extensive measures in place to help customers travel safely, such as extra cleaning more often, clean air filters and open windows, encouraging contactless payments and introducing new technology to check for quieter buses.
With the recently published National Bus Strategy, we now have the best opportunity in a generation to ensure that bus supports the country in delivering a green economic recovery, tackling climate change, ensuring cleaner air, and supporting well-connected and inclusive communities.
To achieve this, we must ensure that bus travel remains attractive, easy and convenient and most importantly be capable of connecting people with all the things they want to do as we come out of the pandemic.
Bus operators have proven that they have the right safety measures in place and we now cannot afford for people to turn back into their cars as they cannot access public transport – this would be devastating for the public health and economy of our country.