Bus companies in south and west Yorkshire are believed to be the first in the UK to introduce a policy limiting the number of passengers on buses from 1 June in the battle against coronavirus.
Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union, has spent the last month hammering out the policy with the bus companies and the two passenger transport authorities (PTAs) covering the region.
The policy will see double decker buses take a maximum of 24 passengers, with 13 on the top deck and 11 on the bottom. Single deckers will carry a maximum of 13 people. These figures represent between 25-30 per cent of normal passenger numbers.
Once these numbers have been reached, a ‘full’ notice will be displayed at the front of the vehicle. The number of buses in operation will be reviewed regularly, with extra buses being put into service with the intention of running a regular service and reducing waiting times.
The cities and towns covered by this policy include: Barnsley, Bradford, Doncaster, Halifax, Harrogate, Huddersfield, Keighley, Leeds, Rotherham, Sheffield, Wakefield and York.
Earlier this month, Unite, which represents over 80,000 public transport workers across the UK, warned that the government must establish clear rules about maximum passenger capacity on buses and trams, as the union said that the government’s guidance on safer transport for operators lacked clarity on this issue.
Unite regional officer Phil Bown said: “We have worked constructively with the bus companies and the PTAs over the last month to formulate this ‘limited passenger’ policy which, we believe, will be an effective barrier to the spreading of coronavirus.
“Nationally, we have called for clearer ministerial guidance on this issue and I understand that what we have achieved with bus operators serving south and west Yorkshire may be a UK ‘first’.
“Unite would strongly encourage other bus operators to follow the agreement that we have hammered out.
“Obviously, passengers will need to show patience and understanding as this is rolled-out during the pandemic. It will be reviewed regularly and we expect more buses to come on stream to cater for increasing demand as the lockdown is eased.”
The bus operators who have signed up to the policy are: Arriva, First Group, Powells, Stagecoach and Transdev. They employ between 5,000 and 6,000 bus drivers across south and west Yorkshire.