Bus services in Thanet will be reduced by around 25% from Sunday (January 17) but time restrictions on concessionary passes will be relaxed from Monday.
The Government asked bus operators to adjust service levels to match travel requirements during the third national lockdown.
Bus operator Stagecoach has confirmed that most of its services in Kent and Sussex will be adjusted from Sunday, with slight reductions to service levels on most bus routes. The new timetables have been released and will operate until further notice.
Stagecoach says timetables have been carefully designed to preserve journeys for key workers and cater for essential trips. It’s also intended that the bus network will help support the vaccination roll-out by providing access to some vaccination centres.
Stagecoach Managing Director Joel Mitchell said: “Maintaining essential transport links is vitally important to our communities and it heartens me that in this lockdown we’re able to offer a greater number of services compared to the first lockdown last year.
“This time we will be running around 75 per cent of our normal service levels, retaining key local journeys that our customers told us were vital to them. We’ve worked closely with Kent County Council and East Sussex County Council, to keep people on the move that need to be.”
The new timetables coincide with the news restrictions on the use of concessionary bus passes will be relaxed. From Monday, concessionary passes can be used before the 9.30am threshold to enable elderly and vulnerable people to travel freely for essential shopping and to and from vaccination appointments.
Mr Mitchell stressed that Stagecoach is keen to step-up services again as soon as the vaccination programme advances and the situation improves. However he urged people not to make unnecessary journeys and to follow the government rules when using bus services. “It’s really important that we all follow the legal requirement to wear face-coverings unless exempt, and only make essential journeys. The sooner we reduce infections, the sooner we can start to get back to normal.
“I’m tremendously proud of our 1,300 remarkable and dedicated colleagues that have been through the turmoil of the last year along with everyone else, but maintain a determination to show-up, day-in-day out, to serve their community.”
Covid secure measures
Stagecoach says that it has a range of measures in place to ensure customers can use its services safely and with confidence. All its buses are subject to an enhanced routine cleaning plan which includes daily sanitizing of all touch points (including hand rails, seat backs and window sills) and floors mopped with hospital-grade disinfectant.
A wider-scope interior clean is carried out on a regular cycle and each one of its buses has its own vehicle history file, so an accurate record of all vehicle cleaning is kept to check and verify that nothing is missed.
Another of the measures the bus company has taken is to minimise cash handling by not issuing change on the bus. Stagecoach is continuing to accept cash on its buses, but its drivers are unable to give change back. Instead, overpayments are donated to Demelza Hospice Care for Children. The policy has so far collected over £56,000 for the charity.
The bus operator is encouraging all passengers to check its website for travel safety advice and information at www.stagecoachbus.com/SECovid19