Public transport, especially the bus, has become even more important to the country to ensure that vital public services continue in the face of Covid-19.
The country’s biggest bus and coach operator has outlined the additional steps being taken to provide extra support for key sector workers. This includes dedicated shuttles and demand responsive transport for healthcare workers as well as measures to support local communities, the supply chain and distribution networks.
Helping the country’s valuable NHS workers
- In London, Stagecoach is working with Transport for London to run specific and dedicated shuttles for NHS staff working at the new 4,000 bed Nightingale emergency Hospital.
- A dedicated shuttle bus service is being provided for NHS staff at Hull Royal Infirmary, Kings Mill Hospital in Mansfield and the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital in Grimsby. The shuttle is only accessible for key workers, ensuring they have quick and easy journeys home after their shifts.
- In Aberdeen and the surrounding area, the NHS megarider ticket continues to offer discounts to NHS workers.
- In the Scottish Highlands, free travel is available for NHS staff in the Inverness area going to or from Raigmore Hospital and New Craigs between 0700hrs and 2200hrs through a dial-a-bus service that can be booked up to the day before.
- In Glasgow, Stagecoach is working with bus operator McGill’s to increase travel options for key workers with four buses an hour between Glasgow and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and shared ticketing.
- In South Wales, Stagecoach is offering free travel to NHS workers as part of the bus support package from the Welsh Government, and is serving eight hospitals in the region. Local authorities in other some parts of the UK are also introducing free travel for NHS workers.
- In the South West, as a result of a partnership with the hospital trust, NHS workers are being offered free travel to the Royal Devon Hospital.
- In the west of England, NHS staff at Southmead Hospital in North Bristol and NHS staff in Gloucestershire can access discounted fares.
- In partnership with Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Stagecoach has provided an extension to the 14/14A service between Oxford and John Radcliffe Hospital to provide access for hospital staff to a temporary parking facility.
Providing extra support for healthcare organisations
- In Hartlepool, the Tees Flex demand responsive buses are being kept on standby to help with patient transport services.
- In London, Stagecoach’s West Ham Garage is being used by the London Ambulance Service to commission new ambulances and also re-commission old ambulances with the support of the AA.
Supporting local communities
- In Inverness, bus drivers are helping Highland Council with deliveries to remote rural communities.
- In Aberdeen, a new shopper shuttle service has been introduced between the Countesswells housing development and local supermarkets.
- In Merseyside, Stagecoach and Arriva are accepting Merseyrail train tickets on buses at times when the rail network is not running.
Extra support for the supply chain
- Capacity on buses to the Europarc food production site in Grimsby has been doubled and all services are now running with double-deckers to help with social distancing. This service has also been duplicated between Cleethorpes Pier and Grimsby Town.
- Double the number of services are now running to Moy Park in Lincolnshire, one of Europe’s leading poultry producers, to help with social distancing.
- To help keep the supply chain moving, additional capacity is being provided to Amazon distribution sites in Fife, Northampton and North Bristol.
- In Manchester, extra services are being provided to service local business parks and the major Amazon distribution centre.
- In the Midlands, extra services are being provided for the distribution centres at the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal near Rugby, and the distribution centres at Swan Valley in Northampton.
Encouraging feedback to enable timetables to be improved for key workers
Across the country, Stagecoach has been revising its timetables to cater for the reduced demand in travel following the government’s advice to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel.
The timetables have been developed to continue supporting key workers on their journeys to and from work, but Stagecoach has also encouraged feedback from its customers on specific changes they would like to see. As a result:
- In West Scotland, extra journeys have been added between Cumnock and Ayr Hospital and between Cumnock and Kilmarnock to help cater for key worker shifts.
- In Aberdeen, temporary timetables have been enhanced to cater for morning shifts at hospitals as well as offshore workers connecting to the heliport.
In addition, discussions are ongoing with local authorities across the country on how Stagecoach buses not being used in public service might be able to provide extra support with food deliveries and other essential public services.
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Chief Executive, said: “Key workers across Britain are working incredibly hard as part of the national effort to beat the coronavirus. I’m extremely proud of all the great work that our own teams are doing to keep the country moving, including getting our vital healthcare workers to hospitals.
“Our own heroes behind the wheel and their colleagues in support roles are really putting their country and their local communities first. We know from the feedback we’ve received from many customers across the country how much their selfless efforts are appreciated and we are doing everything we can to keep our people and our customers safe.
“We are also trying to play our part through special initiatives in partnership with local authorities and the NHS to support key workers, the supply chain, distribution networks and other vital services.
“It’s important that we all follow the government and public health advice to tackle the epidemic and pull together to support each other at this time.”
Stagecoach is strictly following government and public health guidelines, including those from the World Health Organisation, to keep its employees and customers safe. A number of extra measures have been put in place including:
- Asking passengers to pay by contactless wherever possible, or have the correct change for their journey if they can. Alternatively payments can be made online or via the App.
- Supplied thousands of bottles of personal hand sanitiser to employees with larger refill bottles at depots.
- Ensured that nearly all buses are fitted with security screens which have been adapted to provide a barrier to help prevent transmission of the virus.
- Launched an enhanced cleaning regime of buses and workplaces, which is being strictly adhered to and includes extensive cleaning of the key touch-points such as the ticket machines, hand poles, and cash tray.
- Carried out extensive customer communications asking people only to travel if necessary, and to practice social distancing by using a single row per person if possible, avoiding the two rows directly behind the driver and keeping a safe distance between the driver and other passengers.