A Bus Network for Key Workers
During the current COVID-19 crisis, Plymouth Citybus’ management team is working flat out to respond quickly to the ever-changing needs of the citywide and regional community it serves. The company is calling on financial Government support to back the bus industry as it battles to provide essential services.
With a near 90% reduction in passengers, emergency timetables have been put in place, geared around key workers, whilst ensuring there is enough capacity to practice ‘social distancing’ for passengers whilst on board.
Members in Customer Experience, based at Milehouse Plymouth offices, have been closely monitoring requests and comments by both key organisations and key workers to ensure the company understands local needs for essential journeys.
Milehouse staff are gathering information via social media platforms and feeding this up to date information to network managers who are working tirelessly to plan and amend timetables in response. The staff are also dealing with an exceptionally high volume of telephone enquiries from passengers who still have to make essential journeys or rely on local buses to get them to pharmacies and supermarkets.
Many organisations and local leaders have been contacting Plymouth Citybus directly with requests for assistance in transporting the key workers they themselves are relying on. Plymouth Citybus has been in constant dialogue with the facilities team at Derriford Hospital, making sure changes are known by hospital staff in advance.
Services on main hospital routes including Derriford and Mount Gould have been under constant review, with services 34, 42s and 50/51 to Derriford maintaining frequent services to specifically accommodate key worker shift patterns. Service 5 which allows passengers to access Derriford services from Saltash and Plymstock has also been amended to allow early key worker travel.
From Monday 6th April there will be further timetable changes to allow Plymouth Citybus to continue to support key workers and as a consequence there will be some daytime reductions in services. Both Monday to Saturday and Sunday timetables will be published on www.plymouthbus.co.uk and passengers are advised to check before travelling.
To ensure safe social distancing rules for a busier routes, double deckers will replace single deckers after a direct request from the hospital.
Citybus is urging those who need to travel to buy tickets in advance via their app, or pay on bus using a contactless payment cards. This reduces the need to handle cash and minimises contact between passengers and drivers.
Additional cleaning resumes have been implemented, both whilst in service at Royal Parade mid trip and overnight at depots. Seats within two metres of drivers have been cordoned off, to aid social distancing.
Plymouth Citybus MD Richard Stevens commented:
‘Wherever possible we want to meet the requirements of key organisations in the city so that we can support their workers. This is a complicated but vital process; assessing needs swiftly as the situation changes and matching our resources accordingly if it is at all possible.
‘I am immensely grateful to Citybus staff who themselves are working flexibly and responding to ever-changing work patterns.’
Plymouth Citybus emergency timetables (COVID-19) are updated regularly on www.plymouthbus.co.uk