Devon bus use is ’35 per cent of pre-pandemic levels’, Exeter traffic chiefs told

The number of passengers using buses in Devon is currently 35 per cent of pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, Exeter traffic chiefs have been told. 

Stagecoach managing director Mike Watson said people are slowly returning to using public transport, with the firm still only operating 80 per cent of its usual services in the city.

He added that a full service had been resumed on Sidmouth, Cranbrook and Tiverton routes due to passenger demand, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

Mr Watson told the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee at its July meeting that, at the height of lockdown, patronage had dropped to just ten per cent.

Mr Watson said: “We are starting to see more discretionary journeys made as the Government softens its advice and we can start to get the business back to where it was.

“The cost of running 80 per cent service, with only 40 per cent revenue is a challenge, but at the moment we are being supported by the Government who are making up the difference so the costs are covered.”

He said that compliance with wearing face coverings was initially at around 60 per cent of passengers – but this has since risen to a much higher level.

“They are mandatory for passengers and if a driver goes into the bus, they should wear a mask, but we have other measures like screens to protect them,” said Mr Watson.

“We are taking a sympathetic approach and drivers are to advise and challenge, but they are not there to enforce it as there are quite a number of exemptions, some of which are hidden disabilities.

“We are encouraging people to have a journey assistance card so people or the driver won’t challenge them if they are not wearing a covering, and want to act sympathetically to deal with the situation.”

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