In an update to customers issued today, Graeme Macfarlan, commercial director of First Bus Scotland, said:
"At First Bus, we’ve been working hard throughout the pandemic to deliver journeys for key workers and keep everyone safe. As Scotland gradually continues on its journey out of lockdown, we’ve been preparing to welcome you, our customers, back on board, as we embark on the road to recovery.
"With social and physical distancing still very much a part of everyone’s day to day lives, First Bus has rolled out a wide range of new measures to make travelling with us as easy and as safe as possible. These include:
"Revised seating capacity on our buses with each vehicle layout altered to help customers with physical distancing on board. At present, buses are limited to around 50% of their usual capacity, with seats not in use easily identifiable with dedicated sashes. Supported signage is also installed throughout each bus.
"Our service timetables on most routes are now operating more frequently, as we strive towards 100% of pre-covid levels.
"Enhanced daily cleaning of our buses with particular focus on touchpoints such as push bells, handrails and in/around the driver’s cab. Buses are now also treated with a viricidal fog, which kills coronavirus on contact with any treated surfaces for 28 days.
"Installation/enhancement of screens at the driver’s cab to keep them and our customers safe.
"Drivers provided with face coverings should they need to come out of their enclosed cab to assist customers. Drivers also have hand sanitizer to use over the course of their duties.
"Our upgraded First Bus App now has a number of new functions, such as live tracking your bus on a map and live seat availability information on all journeys, including the availability of the wheelchair space. The app also still has its usual great features, such as route planning, favourite journeys, and mobile mTickets.
"For customers who prefer to buy tickets on board, we continue to support contactless payments using credit/debit cards, as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Cash can still be used on board too, although exact fare systems operate in Glasgow and West Lothian.
"In Aberdeen, Tap and Cap, our capped contactless payments function, makes sure that you never pay more than the best value daily or weekly rate, regardless of the number of journeys you make.
"Our new Space Checker function, which allows customers to plan their journeys in advance by being able to check which times of the day services are busy, and which times they’re quiet. This function is live right now in Glasgow, with Midland, West Lothian and Aberdeen also joining in from around the middle of next month.
"While all of these measures and enhancements are designed to make your trips with us as easy and safe as possible, our customers must also play their part with complying with the Scottish Government’s mandatory instruction to wear a face covering on all public transport.
"Our drivers will remind anyone attempting to board without one of this requirement, unless you have a medical condition that exempts you from wearing one. For customers that are exempt, we offer a discreet ‘Better Help to Travel’ card that can be discreetly shown to the driver at the time of boarding. This card can either be printed off at home from our website, or saved to any mobile phone screen for showing.
"As a forward-thinking transport operator, First Bus recognises the key role that bus will play in helping the city economy get back on its feet and, as part of that process, support businesses and their workforce in adapting to any changes in their travel planning policy.
"One way that we help businesses with sustainable travel is through our Commuter Travel Club, which is a bespoke employee benefits scheme. Companies who sign up to become a First Bus travel partner can offer discounted First Bus travel to their employees.
"We’re also keen to learn from businesses about the ways in which travel for them and their workforce has changed. We’d therefore love to hear from members with any insight on changes to travel patterns brought on by shift alterations, location changes, etc, and whether they envisage further changes to those requirements in the future that we can support.
"While the world that we know may well have changed, First Bus is very much looking forward to bringing everyone back on board as part of their travel needs. All that remains for us to say is… welcome back, and thanks for joining us on the journey towards a new normal."