All forward-facing seats on buses in Wales may again be occupied from Monday 21 June, subject to appropriate mitigations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 being in place. The change has been made possible by the Welsh Government’s acceptance of a risk-based case developed by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) that was first adopted in England from 17 May.
CPT Cymru says that the uplift follows “a period of correspondence [with the] Welsh Government.” The Confederation adds that it follows increased passenger demand, but CPT expects that the usable capacity increase “is only likely to impact a small number of services at busy times of the day.”
Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters AS/MS wrote to trade bodies representing the bus industry in Wales on 27 May recognising the CPT risk-based case. Since then, its practicalities have been worked through with the Welsh Government.
Mr Waters accepts that “social distancing can constrain capacity, and that capacity can vary between and within fleets.” He also notes that Welsh Government guidance for operators outlines that if maintaining a 2m distance in all cases would make their operations commercially unviable then operators could feasibly go below 2m, but only if reasonable mitigations are put in place to prevent virus transmission. Ventilation is key to those measures.
In his letter, Mr Waters further says that operators must “carefully consider in their risk assessments the extent to which alternative protections may minimise their passengers’ and employees’ risk of exposure to the virus.” All “reasonable measures” to enable 2m social distancing when possible should be maintained, he adds.
In a related move, CPT’s separate risk-based case for the use of all forward-facing seats on coaches when appropriate mitigatory measures are in place was submitted to the Welsh Government at the same time as that for buses. It has also been accepted.