First Bus unveils new social distancing measures

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First Bus is set to introduce a number of measures to ensure that social distancing guidelines can be adhered to across its bus fleet, reassuring customers about the safety of bus travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new measures include a passenger counting facility – which the operator says is the first of its kind – and follow on from the Government’s publication of guidance to ensure the ongoing safety of First Bus colleagues and customers as plans to ease restrictions progressively unfold.

The most visible sign will be on board where passengers will be clearly directed to only use seats that are at an appropriate distance from each other.  This will reduce the capacity of each bus by over 75% and seats will be clearly marked on all First Bus’s vehicles by Monday 25 May.

Drivers have a key role to play in ensuring the buses do not become overloaded against their reduced capacity limits. Over the next few days there will be a facility added to the Ticketer machine, which is on each bus, that allows drivers to count passengers on and off and which advises them what, if any, available capacity remains. Where a bus is full, the driver can show a ‘SORRY BUS FULL’ display on the destination screen.

This passenger counting functionality will have been delivered by Ticketer in less than two weeks since conversations began.

Dave Lynch, Chief Information Officer of FirstGroup, said: “Since the Government’s announcements last week, we have been working round the clock to find ways to innovate so that on our buses we can ensure safe, socially distanced space for our passengers.

“We are immensely proud that we have been able to develop this new system so quickly with Ticketer, empowering our drivers to be able to manage the capacity of each bus. We fully support the Government’s guidelines and urge passengers to only travel if their journey is essential.”

John Clarfelt, CEO of Ticketer added: ” We are once again delighted to be working closely with First Bus in developing this ground-breaking technology, which will be so vital for drivers as the number of passengers using buses over the coming weeks increases.”