First West of England to trial new social distancing measures ahead of workers’ return
First West of England will begin a trial of new social distancing measures on its route 24 service as part of its plans to be well prepared for workers returning to work, as and when government guidance changes.
Under the new measures being piloted by First West of England signs will be put in place to advise passengers on where to sit and some areas will be taped off.
All buses on route 24 will display the new social distancing signage from Monday 4th May, as part of the trial.
The bus operator intends to roll out the new seating arrangement to all First West of England services, if the trial proves successful in helping customers to social distance.
Alongside the new seating arrangements for passengers, selected services in Bristol and Bath will also see an increase in capacity from the beginning of this week (w/c Monday 4th May), to ensure a safe social distancing environment in line with government guidance as some workers start to return.
Bristol services 2 (Cribbs Causeway to Stockwood), 4 (Cribbs Causeway to City Centre), 17 (Southmead to Keynsham), 24 (Southmead Hospital to Ashton Vale) and Bath Service 5 (Bath Bus Station to Whiteway) will double in capacity at specific times on weekdays between selected stops. On Bristol services 43 (City Centre to Bitton), 45 (City Centre to Cadbury Heath) and 48/49 (City Centre to Emersons Green) capacity will also double at specific higher demand times, with extra buses running 5 minutes ahead of schedule on parts of the route.
James Freeman, managing director at First West of England said: “We are closely monitoring our services to ensure that social distancing is being observed at all times for the wellbeing of our passengers and drivers.
“Now that we are seeing the first signs of workers returning, we have reviewed our social distancing arrangements on our buses. In addition to creating extra capacity at busier times of the day, our new seating pilot on service 24 will act as a visual guide to show customers how they can maintain social distancing whilst travelling by bus. If it proves effective in helping both our customers and drivers, we will introduce it to all of our services across the region in preparation for more employees returning to work.
“I’d like to thank all customers for their ongoing co-operation at this time and would ask that they follow this new seating advice so we can do our utmost to keep everyone safe.
“We continue to regularly clean all touch points on our buses and our drivers are supplied with protective equipment such as disposable gloves. NHS advice is also displayed on our buses reinforcing the need for passengers to follow Government guidance.”
Freeman added: “We are working closely with West of England Combined Authority and the Local Authorities across the region to maintain a sufficient level of service. As we see a small rise in patronage on some routes, we are putting on extra buses for certain stops, to ensure there is the right level of capacity for social distancing.
“The situation is constantly changing and I’m extremely grateful to all our drivers and staff who are working hard to keep our vital bus services running for key workers.”
More information about latest changes can be found at the First West of England website: www.firstgroup.com/coronaviruswoe