First Buses reassure customers over safety as capacity set to increase

First buses number 25 and 25A that follow a route that allows visitors to get a good glimpse of the

First Buses will increase in passenger capacity so all forward-facing seats can be filled from Monday, May 17 - Credit: Archant

The number of people able to hop on buses around Norwich is to noticeably increase following months of restricted capacity. 

First Eastern Counties will be making almost all seats available on their buses from Monday, May 17 with the exception of rear facing seats. 

The company has stressed this move will be done safely in line with the government’s Safer Travel guidance. 

Customers will continue to be asked to wear face coverings unless exempt, while ventilation and enhanced cleaning processes will continue. 

Chris Speed, head of operations at First, said the buses in the Norwich area are starting to get busier as restrictions continue to ease as part of the government's roadmap. 

Head of operations at Frist Chris Speed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Chris Speed, head of operations at First Eastern Counties - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

It comes after concerned bus passenger Carolyn Ludkin contacted this newspaper to say she had hoped buses would follow government guidelines until June 21.

She said: "I have to travel to work and back every day on the bus and I’m very concerned that very soon the buses will again be full.

"Masks have to be worn and windows open but with someone sitting immediately beside you is no distance at all.

"I have been on the bus today [Wednesday] and my first job was to open windows. This was the mid-morning bus so I would have expected them to have been opened much earlier in the day." 

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In response, Mr Speed said: "With government restrictions easing and more people travelling and coming together safely, public places and buses are getting busier and we need to move safely to meet the needs of our customers, in line with increasing demand.

"We are doing this safely and in line with government’s Safer Travel guidance." 

He continued: "Seating capacities will increase from Monday with all forward-facing seats becoming available for passengers to use, however until further restrictions are lifted our rear facing seats will remain out of use.

"This is an England bus industry decision that has been taken following robust risk assessments and  collaboration with our trade body the CPT [Confederation of Passenger Transport]."

The process of cleaning and ensuring the buses are fogged is similar to what has been carried out on trains.