March 25 2020
The bus industry is doing all it can to support the health and wellbeing of its customers, colleagues and the general public at this time of crisis. We are playing our part in communicating the Government's public health advice to avoid unessential travel.
With school closures now effective, we have now seen an overall drop in passenger numbers of around 75% compared with normal levels, and we anticipate this reducing further as the situation escalates.
As part of upholding this Government advice, reducing the public health risks, and avoiding unnecessary resource running buses to empty offices, schools and leisure centres, our operators have changed their timetables to reflect the situation we are now in. In doing so, our operators are working hard to carefully ensure that key workers in areas like health care, food and other vital public services are able to get where they need to be.
Below are further details on the actions the bus industry is taking to help key workers move around, passengers safe and help those no longer able or wanting to travel. We have discussed these principles with passenger representative group Transport Focus who are supportive of the below measures.
Keeping the nation moving
We are working hard to ensure that the nation has the bus network it needs, in particular to get key workers to where they need to be. Services have been and will continue to be altered to reflect large falls in the number of people travelling. Before we do that we are taking steps to let our customers know including:
- Notices on buses and staff presence at key locations
- Working closely with local authorities on any changes
- Highlighting via company website and social media channels (where available)
Operators will especially endeavour to maintain services at appropriate times to suit the requirements of key workers in their local areas, including services to hospitals and will look at altering routes where possible in light of feedback from key workers.
We will keep our service provision under review to reflect changing conditions and ensure we can continue to provide a reliable, resilient service and enable key workers to continue to move around.
Bus and coach operators have extensive cleaning regimes that maintain high levels of hygiene for passengers to protect the health and well-being of their customers and employees. In response to the covid-19 outbreak operators have introduced enhancements focusing on high touch points such as hand poles and grab rails.
As the situation evolves, the industry will continue to engage with government, follow the guidance from public health bodies, and provide advice and updates to customers on their services.
We recognise that those customers that have bought tickets in advance and who may now not wish to travel in the way they had originally planned. Such customers are advised to seek information regarding refunds and/or deferment from their local operator.
Ways of working
The industry has taken measures to stop non-essential internal activities to ensure that all employees can focus on delivering the best possible service for passengers as well as up to date information during the outbreak.
Operators have generally relaxed travel restrictions for concessionary passes so that those with a pass are able to travel before 9 30am to allow them to access services such at all times and especially early in the morning when supermarkets in particular are likely to be better stocked.
Here to help
With many buses and coaches potentially not being required in the coming weeks the industry is also ready to discuss with the Government and local authorities how these vehicles could be put to use. For example, it may be possible for the industry to provide special services to community hubs such as shops and potentially make deliveries to those who need them.
We want to support the UK’s efforts in tackling the crisis by providing unutilised buses to transport NHS workers, supporting supermarkets with food deliveries and delivering essential goods to cut off and self-isolating communities.