The importance of being ‘bus kind’ 19/11/2020

This week’s blog post is written by Dawn Badminton-Capps, Bus Users Director for England. Dawn writes about the importance of being kind to each other when travelling by bus so that everyone can feel confident and safe when making their journeys.

Despite unprecedented challenges, operators have been working tirelessly to make travel safe and accessible for passengers. The results have been extraordinary and for the second time, research from Imperial College London has found no trace of Covid-19 on public transport in London. Operators have also been making innovative and creative use of technology with apps for live bus-tracking, e-ticketing, capacity-checking and even electronic booking.

And passengers themselves have a role to play. In September, Bus Users ran a short survey to find out how people were feeling about bus and coach travel as they returned to work, schools and universities.

One issue of particular interest, face coverings, was proving an increasingly divisive issue since becoming mandatory in June. Five months on and we are still receiving complaints from passengers who have been challenged, faced abuse or even refused travel for not wearing a face covering, despite having a medical exemption.

The majority of people who responded to our survey said they hadn’t experienced any abuse themselves but were nonetheless deeply concerned. 63% told us they didn’t feel comfortable travelling without a face covering, despite having an exemption, and 39% opted to wear one anyway. It seems this unease is well-founded, with 70% of respondents saying they are concerned about other passengers not wearing face coverings.

To find out exactly what it’s like to travel with a medical exemption our Programme Manager, Victoria Walker, spent a day with bus passenger Anne Broughton. Like many people, Anne’s medical exemption isn’t visible and she often wears a face covering to avoid confrontation. When Anne reluctantly agreed to travel without a face covering, she drew attention from other passengers which caused her anxiety and distress. When she travelled with a face covering, and had to climb the stairs to find a seat, she was left struggling to breathe.

Millions of us need to travel by bus, even in the parts of the UK currently in lockdown, so it’s critical that passengers like Anne feel safe and confident about travelling. Our ‘Be Bus Kind’ campaign on social media aims to highlight these issues and calls on passengers to keep their distance, to wear a face covering if they can, and to respect those who can’t. Above all, it calls on passengers to be kind to one other so we can get through this together.

You can read the full article about Victoria Walkers’ bus journeys with Anne and Tony on Coach and Bus Week https://cbwmagazine.com/splitting-opinion/

You can keep up to date with the latest Bus Users UK activity by following them on Twitter @BusUsersUK