More people can get on buses as lockdown eases

More people will be able to get on buses from Monday (17 May) as the government relaxes some social distancing guidelines.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has agreed new Covid safety measures for buses and trains, while retaining many others.

The government has said that all forward-facing seats can now be used with people sitting side by side as on trains and tube. Passengers may also sit on side-facing seats.

What stays the same, is that rear-facing seats and seats within 2 metres of the driver must be empty and passengers are not allowed to stand.

Brighton & Hove and Metrobus Managing Director Martin Harris welcomed the new arrangements, which have been specifically approved by government.

“It’s an encouraging sign and I am pleased it will mean more people can get on buses. As the safety rules gradually relax and more social and work activities return toward normal, public transport will be increasingly able to play its part in a more sustainable recovery. I am delighted to welcome more people back on to our buses, which are clean, safe and ready to go.”

Martin said it would still be compulsory to wear a face covering for the whole journey - unless exempt - and the company would stick to its enhanced cleaning regime and providing hand sanitisers on buses.

He said bus windows were currently being modified to keep them open because research showed this completely refreshed the air inside the bus between 20 and 30 times per hour. Bus doors opened frequently, which also helped.

The bus company fitted its entire fleet with air filters in February as an extra safety precaution. These filters remove 99% of viruses and bacteria.

To plan their journey, passengers can use the bus company’s app, which contains live data about how busy buses are, and the journey planner on the bus company’s websites.

These new arrangements are expected to remain in place until 21 June when the government may further ease restrictions.