'Passengers and bus drivers at renewed risk'
Mask wearing and reduced capacity on buses must be enforced and extended for public safety, warns Unite
Unite, which represents tens of thousands of bus drivers, is calling on the government to ensure that the current rules on mask wearing and reduced capacity on public transport are properly enforced and that the measures continue beyond July 19 when the UK’s remaining restrictions are set to end.
Unite has made its case directly to the government that with Covid-19 rates increasing it is essential that the existing rules are properly enforced. Bus drivers from across the UK are reporting increasing non-compliance with the existing rules. Ensuring masks are properly worn and capacity limits are adhered to is essential to protect passengers and drivers alike.
Since the rules on mask wearing and reduced capacity for buses, as well as the ban on standing, were introduced, Unite has made it clear that it is not the responsibility of bus drivers to enforce the rules. The drivers’ responsibility is to drive the bus safely in what are difficult circumstances.
Instead the bus companies working alongside the police should be providing enforcement officers to ensure that the rules are compiled with.
Tragically, since the beginning of the pandemic, bus drivers have had a very high fatality rate after being exposed to Covid-19.
As well as ensuring that the current rules are enforced, Unite is also calling on the government to ensure that mask wearing and reduced capacity rules continue after other restrictions are relaxed on July 19.
Unite nation officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton said, “The increasing Covid-19 infection rates are putting passengers and bus drivers at renewed risk.
“Unless there is clear enforcement of the existing rules on mask wearing and social distancing on public transport, drivers and passengers will be needlessly infected,” he added.
“Sadly, anecdotal evidence is showing that some members of the public are becoming increasingly lax with following the rules.
“It is the absolute responsibility of the bus companies, working alongside the police and other enforcement bodies, to ensure that the rules are followed,” Morton went on to say.
“Equally with the danger of Covid infection set to continue for some time, the rules on mask wearing and rules on reduced capacity need to continue well beyond the current four-week extension.
“This is in order to protect the health of the travelling public and provide clear reassurance for those who are nervous and reluctant to return to public transport.”
By Barckley Sumner