Taking action to protect driving staff from Covid-19 

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Bus operators throughout the country are in the process of finding the best way to protect their driving staff against infection of Covid-19. Many different options are being used by operators, CBW  takes a look at some that have now been implemented and provide contact details for those operators still trying to find the right solution. 

An ADL Enviro400 from Abellio London is seen before having a new and improved forward screen fitted. RGI

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On 17 April, Transport for London (TfL) announced that it would only be allowing boarding through the centre doors of vehicles following a successful trial by Abellio. Additionally, TfL operators have also put stringent cleaning processes in place at depots, staff rooms and on buses and the sealing of air holes in driver protection screens.  

One London operator that has been quick to take action in permanently upgrading driver protection screens is Abellio. They have been working with Warwickshire-based RGI Bus & Coach Refurbishment Ltd. 

Managing Director Ross Cleaver told CBW: “It doesn’t matter what you do, Covid-19 is now a major part in our daily lives. It is more than likely to be around for a considerable longer amount than we were told. We have developed various enhanced forward assault screens. 

“In order to protect the driver, reduce the open space in the cab and provide a feel-good factor to the driver. These screens look ascetically pleasing. This is a one-off fix and you won’t need to revert back to what you have had previously. There’s little point in fitting something that isn’t fit for purpose

The after image, still with the film on from fitting, shows the 98% coverage of the new screen and the smaller area for customers to tap their Oyster cards on the ticket machine. RGI

“Our screens are made from 4 or 5mm Polycarbonate using quality materials and are CNC cut. We can supply ADL Enviro200 Classic 2012 onwards and ADL Enviro400 Classic 2012 (61) onwards. Other screens are under development, including designs for the ADL MMC range. Additionally, we can bespoke fit screens for any vehicle and have the capability to produce 500-700 units per week in our modern workshop.” 

 Engineering Director of Abellio UK Bus Jon Eardley told CBW: “We’ve been working on cab protection designs with RGI since the beginning of the outbreak using valuable intel from our drivers on which vehicles to target for maximum driver protection. With the swift work from Ross and his suppliers we’ve been able to add further protection to more than 200 of our older vehicles which have the larger screen gaps and we’re working on solutions for other vehicles in our fleet where required in priority order.

With the expectation that social distancing measures will remain in place for some time, the permanent modifications designed by RGI are a welcome addition to our driver’s cabs using high-quality laser cut 5mm polycarbonate providing significant extra protection by closing off more than 98% of the unscreened cab area without affecting driver vision.

We’ve had some fantastic feedback from our drivers on the work completed so far and are continuing to listen to them so we can collectively work together with RGI on further designs.” 

RGI Bus & Coach Refurbishment Ltd can be contacted on 01926 814777 , by email on [email protected]  or visit the website: www.rgibus.co.uk 


Outside of London, many of the large group fleets already have driver protection, or bandit, screens in place which can have the air holes covered and any other gaps closed up. 

East Yorkshire’s operational fleet has now been fitted with screens supplied by Hants & Dorset Trim. TWITTER

Go-Ahead Group owned Hants & Dorset Trim have been quick to supply many of its group fleets that don’t have protection screens, such as Go South Coast and East Yorkshire, with temporary screens. It has also been supplying many independent operators. 

A spokesperson for Hants & Dorset Trim told CBW: “We have supplied to operators all along the south coast and as far up as Edinburgh. From a single request to a batch of 200 in one order. All shapes and sizes appropriate to each bus type. Coach operators and council-run vehicles included. We are also working on a solution for London.

Screens being prepared at Hants & Dorset Trim. TWITTER

Hants & Dorset Trim can be contacted on 02380 644200, by email on [email protected] or visit the website at www.hantsanddoresettrim.co.uk

Go North East has started trailing protection screens forward of the cab door and has added social distancing floor tiles, in addition to existing cleaning and safety arrangements.  

Whilst FirstGroup vehicles generally come with driver protection screens from new, many vehicles at First South West do not have them fitted due to local agreements and for improved customer experience due to Cornwall being a major tourist attraction. Managing Director of First South West, Alex Carter told Cornwall Live: “Following the arrival of a number of vehicles from elsewhere in First Group to bolster our Cornwall operations, the usual refurbishment work was undertaken to ensure these vehicles provide a customer experience that is consistent with the rest of our Cornwall by Kernow fleet. 

“Existing screens were removed as part of the refurbishment, in preparation for the installation of so-called drop-down screens, which are due to be rolled out across our entire in-service fleet.” 

Plymouth City Bus and Go Kernow Bus have sourced face visors from Ivybridge-based Luminati and is additionally fitting ‘soft screens’ to vehicles inhouse. 

Managing Director Richard Stevens told Plymouth Live: “We are a safety-first organisation. We are literally following all the advice we have got. I come to work to run buses, not to put people in harm’s way.

“Public transport has been decimated by Covid-19, but it is an essential lifeline for people. 

“The overwhelming temptation is just to park everything up, but we can’t do that, we have got to keep communities connected.” 

Rotala-owned Diamond Bus has also issued its driving staff with Perspex face shields and left it to the discretion of the drivers if they want to use them. 

Comfort Delgro-owned Adventure Travel has been constructing and fitting temporary staff safety screens across its South Wales fleet.