Changes to bus services during the Coronavirus pandemic
- What is happening to bus services?
- Concessionary travel for older and disabled people
- Bus services for schools and colleges
Commencing 3 January 2021, some bus operators are once again having to reduce their services. This is due to driver shortages.
The current timetables are shown on our main area timetable pages on this website, with a link to temporary timetables where appropriate.
Current and advance information or known changes will be published in good faith by Surrey County Council. If in doubt it is suggested that you visit the operator website or social media before travelling.
There may be further changes at short notice; please also check the forthcoming bus time table changes page regularly.
Bus timetable information is also available from Traveline www.traveline.info or call them on 0871 200 2233, 0700-2200 (calls cost 12p per minute plus your phone company's access charge)
What is happening to bus services?
Surrey bus operators are following the guidance issued by the government. Before travelling please take a moment to read the government advice for passengers: Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers
Safer travel for passengers information sheet from Gov.uk.
Please note: From 15 June 2020 it has been mandatory to wear a face covering or mask when using public transport, unless in an exempt category.
Current government travel advice is that you should not use public transport except for essential journeys. A very significant reduction in passenger journeys and fare income for bus operators mean that an appropriate balance has been necessary between safeguarding services that are important for key worker travel or essential shopping, the availability of drivers and what is sustainable for bus companies, to ensure they survive on much-reduced income so as to be ready for when life returns to normal.
Bus operators are receiving substantial financial support from Surrey County Council and from central government, to help them through this difficult time. To protect the public and bus company staff, extra strict cleaning regimes and driver-shielding measures have been adopted with social-distancing on-board being encouraged. Some operators are no longer accepting cash or are not giving change and all are encouraging payment by contactless card where this is an option.
Bus service levels may be reviewed as and when government travel advice on 'Tiers' alters, or to take account of any local lockdowns that may be put in place.
Concessionary travel for older and disabled people
To assist the elderly and disabled who may be travelling by bus for an essential journey we have asked bus operators in Surrey to allow free travel for holders of disabled/older persons concessionary bus passes before 9.30am.
The following bus operators have confirmed they will participate from Monday 18 January 2021:
Arriva, Carlone, Compass, Cruisers, ESRTP, Falcon, First, Hallmark, Metrobus, Reptons, Safeguard, Stagecoach, Southdown, Waverley Hoppa and White bus.
Bus services for schools and colleges
Some bus services are operated to primarily serve schools or colleges, to co-inside with session times. From 1 September 2020 many of these services will only be available for use by students at the school or college being served. These are identified on the main area timetable pages.
Department for Education guidance removes the requirement for social distancing on these "Closed Door" services, but face coverings are required, unless exempt.
Travel to and from School or College
The government produced updated guidance on 11 August for transport to school and other places of education for the autumn term 2020 (see link at the bottom of the page). The guidance includes the managing of capacity and demand on public transport and measures relating to reducing risk.
Managing demand for bus public transport
Extra capacity on busy journeys
Some additional funding has been made available to the council by the government to ease pressure on public transport when schools are open.
Surrey County Council has worked with bus operators to identify those journeys at school times where capacity may be an issue with social distancing, depending on the number of passengers including students that wish to travel on those journeys. On those identified, a second bus will run at the same time as the normal one, morning and/or afternoon. In these cases, the second bus will be restricted to students and social distancing need not apply, as confirmed in government guidance to bus companies and local authorities, for bus journeys that are not open to the general public.
A list of journeys being provided with a second bus, The list may change as time goes on.
Should any bus service be identified as over-subscribed, either on a journey open to the public or one closed to students, the council and bus operators will use best endeavours to provide extra capacity for students as swiftly as possible.
School and college students may of course also travel on buses that are open to the general public, but subject to a reduced number of passengers for social distancing, as determined by the operator and the type of bus used.
Local bus services primarily for schools or colleges
Some schools and colleges are served by local bus services that are specifically designed for the travel needs of students. These are additional to the main bus network and run on school/college days only, typically with one journey in the morning and one in the afternoon. Although these services could normally be used by anybody, most now are restricted to students at the educational sites served and are no longer available to the general public. As that is the case, the government guidance does not insist on social distancing being applied.
The timetables for bus services designed primarily for students are included on the bus timetable pages of the Surrey County Council website and are highlighted as 'Service only available to school or college students'.
Check before travel
Further information is available from bus operators. Some services may have adjusted timings. The operator's website or social media should give details of current timetables for the services they operate and may also give details of fare payment options, season tickets available for purchase and measures they are taking to keep their customers as safe as possible.
The Surrey County Council website shows the latest timetables advised to the council, which bus services operate to schools and operator contact details.
For students taking local bus services to school, we reiterate the need for them to follow the government guidance on using public transport safely – including the wearing of face coverings (unless exempt), which are mandatory.
In addition, please note that local bus operators are encouraging payment by contactless methods or pre-paid ticket, for those not entitled to a SCC Education Season Ticket. Some are not giving change, therefore pupils should be encouraged to have correct money if they buy tickets from the driver.
Bus operators have enhanced cleaning in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and some provide sanitiser on board. However, we advise passengers to take their own hand sanitiser and use it before and after travelling on the bus and to avoid touching surfaces as much as possible.
Measures to reduce risk on bus services to schools or colleges
Government guidance suggests that social distancing should be maximised within vehicles where possible. However, the council and bus operators are unable, for example, to arrange for multiple buses to segregate different year groups of students. However, other measures can help reduce risk of virus transmission and there may be other travel options.
Precautions and general hygiene:
- not travelling if anyone in the household has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or has tested positive
- hand washing before and after each journey
- wearing a face covering – mandatory on bus services.
- additional cleaning of vehicles
When travelling on or waiting at a bus stop for vehicles:
- following any loading/unloading instructions
- sitting on board with others in 'bubbles', although may not always be possible
- maintaining distance with other passengers whenever possible
- active travel – consider walking and cycling, particularly if students live up to two miles from school or college
- congestion – not driving to the school gates, dropping off elsewhere
11 August guidance – Transport to school, for schools and other places of education: autumn term 2020