Devon buses are ‘turning people away’, Stagecoach boss tells Exeter traffic committee

Buses across Devon operating at 50 per cent capacity are having to turn away passengers, Exeter traffic chiefs have been told. 

Stagecoach’s managing director Mike Watson also told councillors that social distancing means the firm’s business model ‘doesn’t work’.

Speaking to the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee on Tuesday morning, Mr Watson said it will face a ‘real challenge’ when government funding runs out next year.

Members heard how the coronavirus pandemic means most Stagecoach buses are operating at 50 per cent of ‘pre-lockdown’ capacity.

Mr Watson said: “There are some occasions when this isn’t happening as the driver has to evaluate the safety and care of customers with the needs of people needing to get on, but we are looking at broadly speaking 50 per cent loading capability on service.

“This has restricted what we have been able to do and we are turning people away, with signs saying ‘bus full’ and then we stop additional people getting on.

“That’s not great for us at all, but is what we have to do at the moment.”

He added that passenger adherence to the wearing face coverings has been good with limited issues around compliance.

Mr Watson said that, at present, a revenue shortfall is being made up by the Government but this scheme runs until January.

He added: “If it is not extended, we will face a real challenge and have to take action on the network. Social distancing means our business model doesn’t work.”

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