Bosses at First Aberdeen have revealed the stark impact coronavirus lockdown has made on passenger numbers – but have praised the public from heeding stay at home advice.
Operations director David Phillips told The Press And Journal 85% of the bus firm’s customers have opted out of the service, but moved to reassure people it is safe to return to buses when they need to.
Confirmation of the devastating effect on bus use comes as city councillor Bill Cormie praised safety measures on board First’s vehicles.
The 65-year-old admitted he had “some fear” before stepping on to the bus to travel to an appointment recently.
“You wouldn’t know what measures First have in put in place, the lengths they have taken, until you are there,” the veteran Midstocket and Rosemount member said.
“I was so impressed as I got on, saw the driver behind the screen with gloves on and that the bus was spotless and appropriate social distancing was clearly marked out.
“There are many in the city, including the elderly and disabled, that might have a level of anxiety about using these services – I can reassure them it feels very secure indeed.”
In the face of vastly reduced trade, First Aberdeen has significantly altered its services – focusing on maintaining routes used by key workers.
The safety measures, including blocking off seats to separate different households, have meant an average of only 10 passengers on First’s single deck vehicles and around 20 on its double deckers.
First operations director Mr Phillips said: “We have tried to go even further than the government guidance.
“We obviously want people to follow the latest advice but as we come out of this lockdown we want people to not switch off to public transport.
“We have gone to a great deal of effort to enhance cleaning, protect staff, encourage contactless payment – we have looked at every step in the process of getting the bus.
“People have been sensible and stayed at home but for those who have had to use our services, seeing our safety measures has no doubt been reassuring.”