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Safeguard of Guildford Weathering The Storm Covid-19 Has Put On Bus And Coach Industry

Published on: 8 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 10 Aug, 2020

By David Rose

Guildford’s long-established and respected independent bus and coach firm Safeguard is weathering the storm Covid-19 has placed on public transport.

One of Safeguard’s buses on its Guildford and Park Barn circular route.

The firm says it has “continued to provide local bus services in Guildford and has gained valuable experience of providing transport services in the Covid-19 era”.

And adds; “We are ready and waiting for when our valued coach hire customers want to travel again, and want to assure you that Safeguard Coaches will have done everything reasonable to ‘safeguard’ its customers”.

Safeguard’s managing director Andrew Halliday pictured after winning the Gold Award as Top Independent Operator at the UK Bus Awards 2015.

However, managing director Andrew Halliday, confirmed: “Unfortunately, we have had to let some drivers go as a direct consequence of the Covid situation.”

He points to a summary from the UK’s bus and coach industry trade body, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), that highlights the difficulties the coach transport and tourism sector faces.

The CPT is recognised by the government as the voice of the bus and coach industry. Points in its summary regarding the coach industry warn that its long-term viability is at risk.

It states that around 80% of the coach industry’s income (around £4 billion) is derived from tourism-related activities, and the pandemic has meant that tourism [as far as the coach industry is concerned] is temporarily extinct and looks set to remain that way throughout most, if not all, of the peak summer period.

In addition, the CPT points out, only a handful of home to school journeys were [until the summer holidays] still running and scheduled coach services have now ceased, leaving only around 2% of the UK fleet operational in any capacity. 

Although the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and payment of many local authority contracts at pre-pandemic levels have been enormously helpful, says the CPT, even with all staff furloughed and its doors closed, the average coach company faces around £1,900 in standing costs per day (£83 per coach), and refunding customers has left coach operators with severely depleted cash reserves with no revenue coming in for the foreseeable future. 

The short- to medium-term outlook for the coach industry continues to look bleak, warns the CPT, adding that social distancing requirements along with continued suppression of parts of the economy and society will make it impossible to operate commercially viable services for a while; leisure and tourism is likely to be the last sector to return to business as usual; and customer confidence in coach travel is likely to take a while to return.

Looking ahead, the CPT says the coach industry has a vital role to play when tourism picks up and its school transport service can resume, and so on, therefore it is crucial the sector is able to withstand the current crisis.

It is asking the government to continue with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for the coach industry, and provide support for it through a hardship scheme to help with the standing costs of coaches being faced by most coach operators.

Safeguard’s Andrew Halliday adds: “We are not immune and have engaged with CPT, explained the situation to local MPs and to many others.”

Despite all this, Safeguard reports: “We are open for business, both for bus customers (Routes 3s, 4 and 5) and for coach hire, and have implemented a full Covid regime.

“Our buses and coaches are deep cleaned every day before they start service and often again during the day as well. We are using new, highly effective anti-virus techniques such as virucidal fog as part of our regime to combat Covid-19.

“Drivers clean touchpoints and exposed surfaces throughout the day. We’ve installed plastic screens to protect them and you and provided our drivers with appropriate PPE. As a further protection we temperature-test all drivers when they report for work.

“You being safe and comfortable means everything to us, so you’ll see some new advice displayed on our buses. You can help us keep you, our drivers and our other customers safe too.

“Wash your hands before you use the bus, bring hand sanitiser if you can, and wash your hands again after you get off the bus too. Wear a face covering on board. Hand sanitiser is available onboard for customer use.

“You’ll notice that we’ve removed the onboard litter bins. But please don’t drop litter and be sure to take all your personal belongings with you when you leave the bus to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

“Use your contactless card or device if you can. Our machines work with any contactless card, smartwatch or phone payment systems.

“When you’re on board, space out and sit apart, except when you are travelling with someone you live with. To reassure and protect you, our drivers and our other passengers, you’ll see that some seats cannot be used. Take a look around and see if you can give yourself more room as people leave the bus.

“Our buses are ventilated best when the windows are open so the air can flow through, so please don’t close these during your journey.

“Once you’re ready to get off, please ring the bell to alert the driver. Stay seated until the bus has come to a stop – it helps to give our drivers some space.”

Additional advice for coach passengers includes: “Listen for advice from our drivers as to boarding and alighting from the coach (eg fill from the back of the coach first) to maintain social distancing rules as much as possible.

“Whenever practical, our drivers will get off the coach prior to customers boarding and alighting to help with social distancing. And when waiting to board keep your distance from others as long as it is safe and practical to do so.

“Unless all passengers are part of a (single school or similar) ‘bubble’ we ask that you follow these guidelines: When you’re on board, space out and sit apart, except when you are travelling with someone you live with. To reassure and protect you, our drivers and our other passengers, you’ll see that some seats cannot be used. Take a look around and see if you can give yourself more room by moving seats.”

Safeguard’s We’re Good To Go certificate, confirming the business has followed government and industry Covid-19 guidelines.

Safeguard will be pleased to talk to people to discuss further any of the above aspects or discuss your upcoming travel plans. Call 01483 561103 (office hours) or email sales@safeguardcoaches.co.uk

More details are posted on Safeguard’s Twitter feed(@guildfordbus) and Facebook page(@safeguardbuses1)

For Safeguard’s website, click here.

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test One Response to Safeguard of Guildford Weathering The Storm Covid-19 Has Put On Bus And Coach Industry

  1. Alan Cooper Reply

    August 9, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    What a great example to the rest of country Safeguard have been and we in Guildford should be proud of their extremely high standards, not only during the Covid-19 pandemic, but over the last few decades.

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