Social distancing will see ‘people left at bus stops’, Stagecoach MD tells Exeter transport chiefs

Social distancing means passengers will be left waiting at bus stops,  the managing director of Stagecoach has told Exeter transport chiefs. 

The firm will resume full services from June 1 – but they will operate at a maximin 20 per cent of capacity.

Its MD Mike Watson addressed an emergency transport and travel round table hosted by Exeter City Futures on Wednesday.

He said drivers will begin counting the number of people getting on and off its vehicles, adding: “There will be times when people will be left at bus stop.”

Once the passenger limit is reached, drivers will not allow anyone else to board, leaving passengers at bus stops in the hope the next service will be quieter, said Mr Watson.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had told people to avoid public transport if at all possible when he addressed the nation earlier this month.

Mr Watson said: “The challenge we are facing is that we are running 40 per cent service levels, but with 10 per cent of the patronage.

“We are purely operating as a social service with no commerciality and are being propped up by government funds.

“The immediate challenge is to continue to run with reduced capacity and to exercise social distancing on the buses.

“From June 1, we plan to return to 100 per cent service levels, but to deal with greater social distancing measures, capacity on the buses will be no more than 20 per cent.

“There will be times when people will be left at bus stops and the Government are aware of that.”

Mr Watson added that measures had also been installed to protect Stagecoach staff such as screens, hand gels, face masks, and touch-point cleaning systems.

Stagecoach plans changes to bus routes and timetables in Exeter and East Devon