Bus passengers to be counted to ensure distancing

Only a quarter of seats on First Bus services will be available.

A pre-Covid bus queue.
A pre-Covid bus queue.

Drivers at one of Britain’s biggest bus firms will count passengers on all services from Monday to ensure they can stay apart on board.

The move, which will be introduced on some buses this week, could mean passengers being forced to wait at bus stops for the next service.

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Passengers will be counted using a device added to ticket machines.

Only one in four seats on First Bus services will be available. Picture: First Glasgow.

Aberdeen-based FirstGroup is the main operator in Glasgow and Aberdeen, and also runs services in Stirling, Falkirk and West Lothian.

Once the new 25 per cent seat occupancy limit is reached, drivers will not allow anyone else to board.

Passengers who are able to board will be directed to use seats at an "appropriate distance" from each other, according to First Bus.

First Bus in Scotland managing director Andrew Jarvis said: "Social distancing measures are being introduced across our buses to ensure the safety of our colleagues and customers.

“Our buses will be operating at a reduced capacity with around one in four seats available.

“We would ask for people’s patience during these challenging times as we adapt our service provision around the UK Government’s guidance.

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“Together we can all play a crucial role in getting Scotland back on its feet again.

“Travel advice is being shared across all our communications channels and on signage across our buses.

“We have been working closely with our people and trade unions on the measures we are taking to enable social distancing for our colleagues and customers.

“We are also monitoring passenger data to provide double deck buses on the busiest journeys and have a limited number of duplicate buses ready to add to routes where appropriate, to try and provide the best service possible for essential journeys.

FirstGroup spokesman Dave Lynch said: "Since the [UK] Government's announcements last week, we have been working round the clock to find ways to innovate so that on our buses we can ensure safe, socially distanced space for our passengers.

"We are immensely proud we have been able to develop this new system so quickly.

"We fully support the Government's guidelines and urge passengers to only travel if their journey is essential."

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FirstGroup chief executive John Clarfelt said the "groundbreaking technology" for counting passengers will be "vital for drivers" as demand for public transport increases.

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