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Maintaining bus services during a public health emergency

As social restrictions across the globe aim to halt the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), mobility is still needed for essential workers. Transdev Blazefield CEO, Alex Hornby, and Operations Director, Vitto Pizzuti, outline the measures taken by the bus and coach operator to ensure its services can still be provided for those who need them most.

Bus drivers

Being part of a global organisation, we have found it extremely valuable to learn and share best practice from Transdev teams across the world. We are empowered to develop and refine our own ideas, some of which come from those serving on the front line, to ensure we carry on supporting our colleagues and our customers at this critical time as COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe. 

We’ve been humbled by the many messages of support received by our customers as we do all we possibly can to keep our buses on the road to support key workers, schools and those without cars.

Looking after our drivers

We’ve taken a number of measures to ensure drivers are safe at work. More are being considered too, as we continue to follow advice from the government and expert bodies about which measures are most effective.

In addition to our usual strict cleaning regime, additional cleaning of cash trays, ticket machines and cab areas is taking place through the day at bus stations. Our cleaning teams hop on and off the buses with disinfectant and ensure we are doing everything we can to keep as clean as possible.

Every driver and frontline member of the team have personal hand sanitisers in addition to the water and soap handwashing facilities.

headshot alex

Alex Hornby

To reassure our drivers whilst they’re driving, we have been blocking the closest seats to the driver’s cab, to give more space from the customers on the bus. We’re using a printed vinyl to carry the message, which can easily be wiped clean.

We’ve been humbled by the many messages of support received by our customers as we do all we possibly can to keep our buses on the road to support key workers, schools and those without cars

Our safety advice to customers has been recorded in new voice announcements as well as being displayed on the bus. Advice for customers not to sit close to the driver, and to use contactless or mobile tickets where possible, is being played when customers board and at other times along the route.

We’re also giving as many colleagues as possible the opportunity to work their usual hours and maximise their earnings by taking on rail replacement work, and by offering our driving services to councils and other businesses who are seeing shortages in their teams.

Measures are also in place to protect payroll and ensure everyone’s wages will be paid as planned, in the event that the finance team are affected.

Looking after our customers

We’ve seen considerable change to the number of customers travelling, and we have carefully revised timetables to take account of these numbers and our focus on key workers.

The buses we’re running represent a key network of journeys, at much lower frequencies than usual and critically providing maximum coverage over the day, with early and later buses where key workers need them. 

We’ve been humbled by the many messages of support received by our customers as together we do all we possibly can to keep our buses on the road to support key workers, schools and those without cars by providing essential travel.

Our six-point safety advice to customers is clearly displayed online, pushed out on social media to our 55,600 followers and as flyers, posters and digital displays on buses.

The government’s advice is very clear that people should only be travelling when it is absolutely necessary. Everyone is being advised to stay two metres apart from each other at all times, so we have a duty to ensure this happens on our buses and in our bus stations too

Asking customers to board the bus one at a time helps us to make sure customers aren’t getting too close together when they get on the bus. It also provides more space to the driver, so they are only speaking to one customer at once and at a safe distance.

headshot vitto

Vitto Pizzuti

As we’re seeing a lower number of customers travelling, we are able to ask customers to sit two metres apart where possible. We’re continuing to monitor the numbers we are seeing on board so we can make sure this is achievable.

We’re asking customers to make sure they wash their hands before and after travelling and to follow the guidance from the NHS and government on techniques for washing, and how long to wash for.

On our mobile app Transdev Go and on our website, customers can get any of our tickets over the £30 contactless limit, so we’re encouraging them to use mobile tickets as much as possible.

We’ve worked with local authorities to remove restrictions on concessionary bus passes so the elderly and disabled can access supermarkets at priority opening times by bus

Whilst being clear that people should only travel for essential journeys, we’re able to help those customers who do need to get out for work or for supplies.

To help NHS workers, the elderly, the vulnerable and carers, we’re highlighting priority opening hours in a summary and have shared this on social media to increase awareness amongst these groups.

We’re making it easy for people to find the right bus for their essential trips with summary articles about getting to hospitals and supermarkets on our website and on social media. 

Anyone supporting the elderly through a recognised group by taking supplies or making visits is able to get some free travel tickets from us, to help them to do so. In a quick and easy process, we’re able to send the volunteers a mobile ticket on our app Transdev Go for 12 journeys travel.

We’ve worked with local authorities to remove restrictions on concessionary bus passes so the elderly and disabled can access supermarkets at priority opening times by bus.

Our teams have also provided up to date PDF timetables for every route so customers can still access accurate information when real-time data is being updated.

We’re using real time information displays at bus stops and bus stations to provide scrolling messages for customers to ensure they know where they can go to access the most up to date information.

Our app Transdev Go allows customers to track buses and see live departure times from their bus stop. Working alongside partners this data is being updated as soon as possible after a timetable change.

Looking after key workers

Many people’s jobs are still essential at this difficult time and this includes healthcare professionals, supermarket shop workers and, of course, bus drivers.

Transdev bus displaying NHS sign

THANK YOU NHS … Bus driver John sends a message of thanks from Transdev’s The Keighley Bus Company to the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In changing our times to reflect the much lower number of people travelling, we’ve taken actions to ensure that this does not adversely affect key workers from getting to their work places.

At a time when healthcare workers are under a lot of pressure, and critical to helping us all get back to normality, we’ve taken the time to recognise their contribution too.

We’re basing our timetables on key worker journey patterns and have used our existing data and knowledge about when key workers usually travel when revising our timetables.

To fill in any gaps in our knowledge or data, we’ve also asked key workers what time they need to travel, so we can consider requests for journeys and have incorporated as many of these as possible.

To help get the information to those who need it most, we’ve widened our communication channels to include direct communication with employers where we know their teams are using our buses to travel.

Our buses have displayed ‘Thank you NHS’ on the destination blinds in a public show of support from us for their dedication and hard work.

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