The industry prepares for lockdown measures to ease

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As the weeks go on, and we hopefully get closer to easing of lockdown measures, Richard Sharman looks at measures operators are taking to prepare for returning to operating services and contracts.

As I write this feature we have now reached our 50th day of lockdown in the United Kingdom. Whilst many aspects of the bus and coach industry have come to a complete stop and many vehicles will have not turned a wheel for weeks, there is still a lot going on behind the scenes with operators and some vehicle manufacturers working on ideas and plans on how they can move forward once lockdown is eased. With social distancing expected to last for many months to come, operators are starting to look at new ways of continuing to operate, but still being able to comply with social distancing requirements.

Local bus services
Many operators have been running a reduced level of public bus services during this lockdown period, but as operations are scaled back up there is a need to mark out the 2 metre rule as the slow increase in patronage begins.

Operators of mini and midi buses face quite a challenge, especially if they are operating an infrequent rural service that can only be operated by a smaller vehicle. For example, to adhere to the government advice of passengers staying 2 metres apart, for an operator using an Optare Solo 7.9m Slimline it means that total seated capacity is reduced from 24 seated passengers to just 7 or 8. First West of England’s trial shows 75-seat double-decker is reduced to just 20-seated passengers.

First West of England’s local trial on service 24 reduces seating capacity to 20 seated passengers, although duplicate vehicles are provided during the peaks. FIRST
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