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‘Publish Covid-19 bus guidance’


01 May 2020

Labour wants the Government to publish guidance for the bus industry on social distancing  to protect passengers and drivers from contracting Covid-19.

Shadow transport secretary Jim McMahon has written to transport secretary Grant Shapps urging the Government to act. As well as calling for advice on passenger social distancing (see front page), McMahon says guidance is needed on whether drivers should be handling cash or if there should now be a total ban on using cash on buses.

“If the latter is supported, then that can only be realistically achieved by the Government covering all revenue risk, in the same way it has with train operators,” said McMahon.

He said other aspects of the guidance should cover: 

  • whether drivers should be issued with gloves, masks, and other personal protection equipment items and, if there isn’t sufficient PPE, whether buses should run
  • whether physical barriers (ie. screens) for drivers should be in place on all buses
  • how frequently buses should be cleaned and to what standard 
  • if a set number of seats from the driver should be unusable
  • how queuing and boarding should be managed
  • whether, if possible, all passengers should board from doors other than the front, as in London

McMahon conceded that the issues were complex. “There is a mix of overlapping and at times contradictory scientific advice and guidance in circulation. While this is understandable during an unprecedented time, the job of Government should surely be to cut through that noise and give those that need it clear, unified and constant guidance and direction. 

“The fact that different bus operators have diverging views on the best approach is confusing matters further. 

“It does appear that the fragmentation of the bus market has, in part, caused the lack of clear guidance and advice from being passed both from Government to drivers but also from drivers up to your Department.”

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