Greater Manchester secures £2m for thousands of extra bus seats to support safe return to school

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Greater Manchester has secured more than £2m in funding from the Department of Education to boost capacity on the bus network at peak times and help children get back to school safely.

Approximately 90% of schoolchildren who use the bus to get to and from school travel on the commercial network, and with capacity on the commercial bus network significantly reduced due to coronavirus social distancing measures, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has worked with operators to run around 300 additional bus journeys each weekday across the region. Duplicate buses exclusively for school and college students will run behind the original scheduled service at set times, with the usual route number starting in ‘S’ to show they are school services.

Around 150 duplicate journeys will run in the morning and afternoon, and TfGM has set up a dedicated web page where parents, carers and students can find all the latest information on the extra services. Duplicate journeys will be in place until the autumn half-term holiday, subject to demand, and TfGM says it will monitor usage to make sure capacity is running in the right place.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We’re committed to making sure children can return to school as safely as possible. While we’d still encourage pupils to travel on foot or by bike to school where they can, especially for shorter journeys, we know that isn’t an option for everyone.

“For those that must use public transport, these extra services will hopefully provide further peace of mind to parents and pupils that it is safe to travel on public transport. However, I must stress again that we need everyone to play their part by following safety rules and thinking about how and when they travel. These simple measures can have a big impact.”

Pupils using public transport, including the new duplicate journeys, will need to follow safe travel guidance and take responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe, including wearing a face-covering on-board unless they’re under 11 or are exempt.