Currently, the government is still asking everyone to avoid using public transport unless absolutely necessary, to help prevent spreading the coronavirus in communities. But bus operators at the BCP Council are working together on preparations that will limit the risk of exposure moving forward.
Before the coronavirus hit, residents living in Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch made a combined total of around 25 million bus journeys each year, making the area the third highest in the country for bus travel. Looking carefully at protecting the public long-term from the virus, for which there is still no cure and no vaccination, work is underway to help protect bus users and make it a safe form of transport once more.
Work is already being undertaken at Poole Bus Station, where some of the stands are being relocated to create more space that allows for social distancing, and work will soon begin in Bournemouth at both Gervis Place and the Travel Interchange. In addition to the relocation of stands and bus stops at key locations, temporary barriers are being created where queuing is most likely, and the buses themselves are undergoing improved cleaning regimes. To create more distance between passengers, some seats on buses are being blocked from use.
Councillor Andy Hadley, Cabinet Member for Transport on BCP Council, said: “I am pleased to support our local communities and bus operators by carrying out these urgent works which will enable people to socially distance at key locations across the towns.
“With more people being encouraged back to work we know some residents will be feeling anxious about using public transport again. We have worked extremely hard in getting more people to use the bus as their preferred choice of transport and we will continue to work with both bus operators while we move through the next stage of the pandemic building confidence again for our residents.”
There are also steps you can take to help protect yourself and fellow passengers if you need to travel by bus. The government advice suggests that you should:
- Travel at off-peak times
- Take a less busy route and reduce the number of changes
- Wait for other passengers to get off before boarding
- Keep 2 metres away from people where possible
Most importantly, whether you have travelled by bus or visited any public location, you must remember to wash your hands thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds on your return home.