Operators across England are preparing for increased services in anticipation of schools returning in September.
Stagecoach South West has already announced it intends to introduce 50 extra dedicated vehicles across its network, where pupils will only travel alongside their peers and dedicated drivers will be exclusive to school transport.
Stagecoach East announced changes to its bus services and Busway routes in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire to help returning students and workers after the summer holidays while maintaining social distancing. It will increase provision in time for the reopening of schools in September as well as simplify its Busway network from 30 August. It will also operate some separate, dedicated school buses in Bedford.
Michelle Hargreaves, Managing Director of Stagecoach East, says: “As many people prepare to return to work and school, we are pleased to introduce new routes and additional services to provide sufficient capacity across our network. We are also making sure those living in outer towns and villages have access to vital connections to the main Busway corridor.”
Arriva is updating its services in Merseyside and Halton from 30 August, with the majority of its services to return to pre coronavirus COVID-19 levels across the region. It will continue to operate vehicles with social distancing in place.
Regional Managing Director for Arriva Phil Stone says: “Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have been committed to supporting key workers and our customers with their journeys. We have strived to make any disruption to services and timetables as minimal as possible during this period and I am delighted that we are now able to return to a Pre-COVID-19 service level for the majority of our routes.
In Brighton and Hove, children are being welcomed back with extra buses on the Brighton and Hove and Metrobus network, with dedicated school-only services and a heightened cleaning regime.
Brighton and Hove and Metrobus’ Managing Director Martin Harris says: “We are really pleased to welcome children back on our buses now that schools have reopened for everyone.
“Our top priority is to get children swiftly and safely to and from school and we’ve been doing everything possible to make sure our buses are clean and safe, in line with government guidance.”
The operators buses are now to be cleaned up to five times a day using hospital grade products. Social distancing has been put in place and Mr Harris says the operator is working closely with local councils to anticipate and meet demand.
Capacity limits will not apply on the dedicated school services, which will carry children up to the age of 18.