Telling bus passengers about service changes

01 May 2020

The impact on bus services for passengers and operators since the Government’s advice to avoid non-essential travel was both instant and dramatic. With so many developments it’s vital that that passengers are kept up to date about changes to  local services.

Bus operators responded by making a number of incremental changes to their networks to address the needs of providing a service for key workers alongside a dramatic fall in the number of passengers travelling. It is right that the Government recognised the exceptional circumstances posed by coronavirus through its COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant.

In these unusual circumstances, it is particularly important that passengers are kept informed of service alterations in a timely fashion. The Government has therefore asked Transport Focus to set out guidance on how best to do this.

As Government communications have made clear, all bus operators who receive the grant will be expected to run up to 50 per cent of scheduled commercial mileage and to engage with the relevant local transport authorities to determine what bus services should be operated, when and on which routes.

This guidance is aimed at operators of bus services and local transport authorities. The guidance is also designed to represent best practice. We acknowledge that in these extraordinary circumstances it may not always be possible to meet these high standards. For example, there may be occasions where changes to timetables have to be made at short notice to ensure safety and meet passengers’ needs and it will not be possible to meet all the information guidelines set out in our new document before the change is implemented.

We are grateful to all of the organisations who commented on the first draft of this guidance and provided us with examples of how they have been communicating changes. Given the fast-changing environment in which we are all currently having to operate, we wanted to publish this guidance at the earliest opportunity. We see the guidance as a living document and hope to include examples of best practice in future versions.

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