Reading cuts services as passenger numbers plummet
Reading Buses has announced a reduction in service to match a fall in customer numbers caused by the coronavirus situation.
After the government announcement on Monday that people should work from home where possible, the council-owned company has seen a dramatic reduction in numbers of people travelling on its services and has acted quickly to match demand.
From today, Claret 21a buses will not run after the announcement by the University of Reading that students will no longer have face-to-face lectures for the foreseeable future. Students and staff at the university, as well as other customers, will still be able to use the Claret 21 which will run up to every 15min during the day.
Most services will, from next Monday, run to their Saturday timetables during Monday to Saturday, with Sundays remaining normal. Most schoolday-only journeys will continue to run while schools stay open, but will be removed should schools be closed.
Notable variations to help those still commuting are: Jet Black 1 (Reading-Newbury) will have a Saturday timetable, but with buses adjusted to run into Arlington Business Park; Greenwave will run a Saturday service with an extra 61r service that runs every 30min between central Reading and Mereoak park-&-ride via Reading International Business Park, Lime Square and Brook Drive.
To reflect the reduced demand in the evening, overnight services on its 24/7 routes will be reduced to run at Monday to Thursday night times on all nights of the week, journeys after midnight that usually run only on Friday and Saturday nights will be cancelled.
The company says that amended timetables are being worked on as quickly as possible and should be online as soon as possible. There may also be some disruption to the electronic information system while the amended schedule is being created and loaded in.
This reduction in service is designed to match the fall in customer numbers and to ensure that the company can best manage resource during this unprecedented situation in a way that can be easily communicated.
Says Robert Williams, Reading Buses chief executive: “We are currently facing a situation that no one could have predicted. We are having to reduce our service level to balance low customer numbers and available resources. With the government advising more people to stay at home and avoid public gatherings, the number of people travelling on our services has fallen dramatically and we expect that to continue this week.
“We have, therefore, made the decision to switch to a Saturday service from next Monday to compensate for this. We will still be running buses around the town and beyond for those who can still travel.
“Obviously, the safety of our employees and customers are of vital importance to us. As well as reiterating Public Health England’s best practice guidance on hand-washing and hygiene to all our employees, we already have extensive cleaning programmes in place for all of our buses each evening, now supplemented with further cleaning to ensure all potential hard-surface contact areas, including bells and hand-poles, are regularly sanitised. Fortunately, we already have a fantastic team of cleaners who maintain all our vehicles to high standards every day.”
Williams also outlined how the company will operate during this period. “We are already planning for which members of which teams can follow government advice and work from home and which workers need to be physically on site.
“Obviously, our drivers, engineers and cleaners cannot work from home, so we will be monitoring their health and wellbeing during this critical time. It is important that we all stay calm and keep things moving where we can. We will, of course, continue to monitor both the number of customers travelling on the buses and the advice of the government.”
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