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First Bus Scotland announces new innovative measures to enable social distancing on board

Posted: 22nd May 2020

First Bus in Scotland and across the UK is introducing a number of measures to ensure that social distancing guidelines on public transport can be adhered to across its bus fleet, giving customers further reassurance about the safety of bus travel. The new measures include a ground-breaking passenger counting facility and follow on from the UK Government’s publication of guidance to ensure the ongoing safety of our colleagues and customers as their plans to ease restrictions progressively unfold. First Bus is maintaining regular contact with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland and will follow guidance on further measures in due course.

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 necessary step to ensure that buses are safe for everyone 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.

Our 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 will 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.

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director of First Bus in Scotland, said: “Our priority is and always has been ensuring passenger safety on our bus services. Social distancing measures are being introduced across our buses this week to ensure the safety of our colleagues and customers.

“Our buses will be operating at a reduced capacity with around 1 in 4 seats available, but thanks to passenger data monitoring, we will be in a position to provide double deck buses on the busiest journeys and have a limited number of duplicate buses ready to add to routes where appropriate to try and provide the best service possible for essential journeys.

“We will be working closely with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to ensure safe distancing measures are in place and await further guidance on measures for services in Scotland moving forward.

“We are committed to keeping customers informed of the latest travel advice and information though our online channels and signage across our buses. We have been working closely with our colleagues and trade unions on the measures we are taking to enable social distancing for our colleagues and customers.

“We would ask for people’s patience during these challenging times as we adapt our service provision around the Government’s guidance. Together we can all play a crucial role in getting Scotland back on its feet again.”

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 numbers of passengers using buses over the coming weeks increases”.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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