Lancashire bus and train passengers told: 'Keep your masks on from Monday'
Passengers travelling on bus and train services across Central Lancashire from Monday (19th July) will still be expected to wear a face covering - in spite of it no longer being a legal requirement as of that date.
Preston Bus, one of the city’s main operators, says that it will be following recent government guidance that recommends people continue to cover their face “in crowded areas such as public transport”.
Thomas Calderbank, commercial director for the company, said that the firm would “respectfully ask that customers continue to protect themselves and others by choosing to wear a face covering onboard unless they are exempt”.
A post from the Preston Bus Twitter account last week put the requirement for continued face covering in stronger terms, stating that they “must” be worn, apart from in cases of exemption.
However, Mr. Calderbank told the Post that “to avoid any confusion or conflict, we will not be asking our drivers to enforce any wearing of face coverings from 19th July”.
Only forward-facing seats will be used on the company’s services - while passengers are also being told to keep windows open on board, give each other space and sanitise their hands before and after travelling.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport, representing other bus operators in the area - including Stagecoach - says that they will also be recommending, but not demanding, face coverings for people using their services.
A spokesperson said that bus companies “will expect people to think of others and wear a face covering on board, if they can, in line with government guidance”.
“We expect many passengers will do so, as they will in other busy public spaces.
“Operators are continuing to do everything we can to ensure people can travel with confidence. This includes delivering enhanced cleaning regimes, ensuring buses are well ventilated and providing tools such as apps to allow customers to see how busy their bus is and help plan their journey in advance,” the spokesperson added.
Transdev, the firm that operates the Hotline bus services between Preston, Blackburn and Burnley says it will “recommend that our customers continue to wear a face covering when travelling with us, especially at busy times, and just as they may choose to do in other busy places”.
A message on their websites adds: “A limited number of people have been legally exempt from wearing a face covering under the existing restrictions – and we ask everyone to remember that this may be why some customers will choose not to do so from Monday.
“Our buses are clean, safe and ready to go, just as they have always been, and we will continue with the highest standards of cleaning on every bus and at our bus stations, including nightly deep cleaning inside buses using anti-viral fog, while hand sanitiser dispensers will remain on each bus.
“Colleagues may also continue to wear face coverings, we will maintain the use of screens around the cab area on board and they will also continue to be issued with their on-board cleaning kits.
“We’ll also continue to encourage keeping bus windows open this summer, so fresh air can circulate freely. This all helps everyone feel comfortable on board.”
The firm says that the Transdev Go app will continue to give live information about the space available on board its services and will help enable “everyone to travel confidently with us”.
Meanwhile, train operating companies say they have worked together to ensure there is "a consistent approach" to wearing face coverings from next week - with masks continuing to be required.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, issued on behalf of operators including Northern and TransPennine Express, said: "Train operators will be implementing the government’s new guidance and expecting passengers to wear a face covering in crowded spaces, out of respect for others.
“In addition to expecting people to wear face coverings in crowded spaces, train operators will be continuing with extra cleaning. Trains are well ventilated, with air regularly refreshed - and we’ve improved information about the busier and quieter times to travel. This all means that people can continue to travel with confidence.”