'Avoid public transport': South Yorkshire bus companies fear overcrowding as people return to work

Bus and tram providers in South Yorkshire have warned against the unnecessary use of public transport as people return to work during lockdown in a bid to prevent overcrowding.

Friday, 15th May 2020, 4:26 pm

This week the government said that anybody with a job that they cannot do from home should return to work, however said that these workers should try to commute on foot, cycle or use a private vehicle.

The Government also loosened lockdown restrictions, allowing people to travel more.

Transport companies are working to take measures to ensure their vehicles remain safe for the increased number of passengers and have appealed to the public to leave the networks empty so workers with no other option can use them safely.

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South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive’s Executive Director, Stephen Edwards, said: “The Government’s roadmap will mean changes need to happen to the way in which people travel.

“We need everyone to play their part, so services can safely continue to connect people to places, as coronavirus restrictions ease. “Public transport should be avoided where possible to allow those that need to use it, who have no alternative, to stay safe.”

Among the measures taken by bus companies to keep their transport safe is the decision by Stagecoach to accept exact change only.

A statement from Stagecoach South Yorkshire said: “From Monday 18 May we'll be taking exact fares only on our buses to help prevent the spread of COVID19.

“As we’re unable to give change we'll be donating any extra cash to the COVID19 Appeal to help NHS workers and volunteers.”

A company spokeswoman added: “For many weeks, the government and public health authorities have stressed that people should only travel if necessary and that they should observe social distancing, including on public transport.

“We will continue to monitor the numbers of passengers travelling on our services and review this wherever possible. We will also be working to further adapt our services in line with the new government guidance.

“In line with government advice, people travelling on our services should follow the social distancing rules and aim to keep 2m apart from other passengers. This significantly limits the amount of available capacity on our public transport services and we would recommend customers consider this in planning their journeys.

“The latest government advice also acknowledges that there are situations where full social distancing may not be possible, for example when boarding or alighting and on busier services or at busier times of day.”

A spokesman for First South Yorkshire said the company is working through the guidance published yesterday to determine how this can be implemented and supported.

He added: “We are updating our risk assessments and operational plans to ensure the ongoing safety of our colleagues and customers as Government’s plans to ease restrictions progressively unfold.

“Our bus services are essential for governments, local communities and our customers. We will continue to work with local authorities and our industry partners on the safe resumption of services, reflecting levels of demand, and in keeping with government and public health authority guidelines.”