All Go North East buses will run to emergency timetables from Saturday 28 March, with services running at least hourly. Extra early morning journeys for key workers, added following customer feedback, will also be maintained daily.
The company remains committed to ensuring transport links for key workers and those with essential travel needs to access shops and healthcare, but bus use has plummeted by some 85% and the company also needs to manage the safety and wellbeing of its colleagues.
Routes will run every hour and the busiest services will run up to every half an hour. In the run up to earlier service changes in response to the Coronavirus crisis, customer feedback led to extra early morning journeys being added for key workers across 12 routes. These will continue, exactly as they are today.
The company has been closely monitoring passenger numbers on all buses to ensure passengers can keep a distance away from each other, even with a reduced frequency. The number of depots that buses run from will be consolidated and the most appropriate buses will be allocated to each route, meaning that, whilst all routes will continue to run, buses may not be in their usual colour scheme.
Martijn Gilbert, managing director at Go North East, said: “We’re working hard to provide the right level of service as we balance the needs of our communities in connecting key workers and providing essential journeys for those who need them, as well as the safety, wellbeing and long-term job security of our colleagues.
“Having seen an 85% drop in passenger numbers means we must adapt our operations. We also need to reduce the number of colleagues working, following the Government’s advice for as many people as possible to stay at home, especially those with any vulnerabilities themselves or with family members.
“I am immensely proud of the hard work and resilience shown by our team as we continue to play our part in keeping the essential parts of society moving during this crisis. You can be assured that we will continue to do all we can to keep every part of our network connected with services for key workers and essential journeys.”
The bus company added that everyone’s health and safety is its top priority, so is asking customers to help by…
- Social distancing – try and sit 2 metres apart, so one person to a seat, at least every other seat where possible.
- Boarding one at a time – only one person should stand on the entrance platform at a time, and stand behind the new line.
- Paying with contactless or buying in advance on the app – wherever possible, only use cash as a last resort.
- Coughing or sneezing hygienically – if you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your arm.
- Not travelling if you are unwell – if you feel unwell, please do not travel. If you have coronavirus-like symptoms call 111.
- Washing your hands – try to wash with soap and hot water, or hand sanitiser, for at least 20 seconds before and after travelling.
Those intending to use the bus services are advised to check Go North East's website, Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest updates, as its customer services team will be very busy assisting those with no Internet access.
The new emergency bus timetables can be viewed by visiting www.gonortheast.co.uk/coronavirus.