EXCLUSIVE from ITThub: From Monday (17 May) many more seats will be available for bus passengers in England (outside of London), thanks to the easing of government restrictions and an industry-wide Risk Based Case review.
Transport for London remains responsible for social distancing requirements on buses in the capital, while buses in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales come under regulations of the respective devolved governments. As yet, these have not been changed.
With the move of England into ‘Step 3’ of the government’s ‘roadmap out of lockdown’ from Monday 17 May – meaning that indoor locations such as pubs, accommodation and hotels can re-open – the bus industry has come together to re-asses the capacities available on buses.
The result is that operators will make many more seats available, with only certain positions – such as rear-facing and face-to-face (for example rear bench seats) – still ‘out-of-bounds’.
To ensure a consistent approach across England, trade body the CPT has worked with operators to re-assess their risk-based safety case, issuing a seven-page document that develops the Risk Based Case it originally produced in July 2020.
“Wherever possible, operators should be encouraged to adopt a consistent approach across services to avoid confusion amongst passengers.” Baroness Vere, Transport Minister, Department for Transport
While it generally doesn’t mean that every forward-facing seat will now be available, the majority can be.
Each operator is assessing its specific vehicles, demand and networks, but the broad principles are the same.
It is a long-awaited response to issues of overcrowding – increasing as lockdown is eased – that is seeing people occasionally refused entry due to the bus being ‘full’ due to heavily-restricted seating capacity.
The approach will be pragmatic, for example standing may be allowed in certain cases, and the aim is also to ensure that for example on the last bus of the evening, people are not left behind.
Other measures, such as the wearing of masks, improved cleaning regimes, driver screens, stay in place, while the new measures still comply with the one-metre social distancing rules.
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