Bristol’s bus operator will shift to an emergency timetable that aims to best support key workers reliant on public transport to get to work.
The boss of First said that just a few weeks ago, current restrictions would have been “almost inconceivable” as he issued assurances that everything possible is being done to keep vital staff, such as those in the NHS, mobile.
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The changes will come into force from Monday, March 30 and will see the switch to a Sunday service, with additional routes and extra early morning buses to ensure key workers can travel and those without a car can still collect medical prescriptions or do their essential shopping.
They follow strict new measures issued by the government on Monday, March 23 that stipulate everyone must stay at home other than to travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, shop for essential items and to fulfil any medical or care needs.
James Freeman, the managing director of First West of England, said: “With much of the UK effectively ordered to stay at home for at least the next few weeks, we have made the decision to move to an emergency timetable, based on Sunday frequencies but covering additionally those routes that don’t normally run on Sundays in order to support those who still need to get to and from work and get out to shops and pharmacies, whilst fulfilling our own role as vital key workers during this time of national crisis.
“Just a few weeks ago it was almost inconceivable that these restrictions would be in place, which only underlines what a challenging, dynamic and rapidly evolving situation the UK faces, and which First is monitoring and responding to day-by-day, hour-by-hour.
“Rest assured everything is being done to keep key workers mobile as the nation comes together to limit the spread of coronavirus.”
Freeman added: “We are doing everything possible to deploy staff across our operations with a view to minimising the impacts for everybody.
“Regular customers can be assured we will endeavour to get more frequent services back up and running as soon as the Government decides it is safe to do so.
“Please bear with us as given the fast-changing nature of the situation it will be difficult to keep all our communication channels updated with the latest information.”
Main photo by Martin Booth