Stagecoach confirmed, this week, it will be increasing bus service levels in England from next week to ‘help get the country moving’ as lockdown restrictions start to ease.
Emergency bus timetables have been in place since March to help key workers get to and from work and for other essential journeys.
Following the announcement by the UK Government of a new bus, tram and light rail restart programme, Stagecoach has confirmed plans for a phased step up in services as more people return to work and other parts of daily life re-open.
From Monday June 1, bus network timetables across England will initially return to around 70 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels with a further uplift to around 80 percent planned by mid-June.
Discussions are continuing with the Scottish and Welsh Governments about the timetable for stepping up bus services in these parts of the UK in line with the plans laid out by the devolved administrations.
Stagecoach has put in place extensive enhanced measures to keep buses clean and passengers and staff safe and ensure people can feel confident about using buses, Britain’s most important transport mode.
Thousands of engineers and drivers are returning to work to undertake vital preparations to ensure the bus fleet is ready for the ramp up in services.
Buses which have been parked up during recent weeks will all be deep-cleaned and will undergo stringent checks in advance of going into service.
Stagecoach’s enhanced cleaning regime includes at least daily cleaning of all buses with a government-recommended sanitiser, with a particular focus on key touch points, and additional in service cleaning where possible.
All buses will continue to have a protective screen to provide a physical barrier between the driver and passenger.
Face masks are available for drivers, and in line with government advice, Stagecoach is encouraging passengers to wear a face covering.
Social distancing measures are now in place on all bus services, which means that each individual bus has around 20 percent of normal passenger capacity.
Stagecoach has also issued a ten-point guide to help people understand the measures in place and to help them continue to safely use bus services.
The increase in bus services from June 1 will ensure that passengers can have confidence in using the bus to get to work, education and connect them to leisure facilities as they re-open.
Bus planners have worked hard to ensure that the new timetables meet the needs of local communities and help to support the national effort.
Stagecoach is continuing to work with local authorities to ensure the bus fleet is deployed where it is needed most.
Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach, said: “We are hugely proud of the fantastic efforts of all of our employees in recent months. Our own key workers have made a huge contribution to the national effort and we’d like to thank every one of them and our customers for their support.
“Buses are going to continue to play a crucial role in the country’s recovery ahead. As well as helping restart our economy, they are vital in bringing normality back to many areas of our daily lives.
“They keep families and communities connected and have a major role in delivering a safer, cleaner and healthier country.
“We are proud to serve communities right across the country and we are delighted to be stepping up our services from 1 June. It means we can provide significantly more regular services and more capacity overall as people start to return to their everyday lives. We will continue to work with government and local authorities to ensure we can target services where they are needed most.
“The safety of our customers and employees remains our top priority. With the extensive measures we have taken and the support of our passengers, they can be confident our buses will be clean, safe and ready to go.”
Details of the new timetables can be found here.