Bus user shocked and concerned face masks weren’t being worn
Woman fearful of using bus again: “it is a serious issue and safety rules must not be flouted”
A Banbury woman has told Banbury FM she will not be using the bus service into town again after her most recent experience left her worried she wasn’t properly protected against coronavirus.
The lady, who has asked to remain anonymous, took a trip from Hardwick to Banbury town centre last Wednesday. She told us, “Several passengers boarded the bus after me with no face covering and I was shocked and rather concerned that the driver didn’t say a word”.
The lady told us she is in an at-risk group. We asked her why she simply didn’t exit the bus. She told us, “[There was] no point getting off as I would have to pass them”.
She acknowledged steps had been taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus on the vehicle, telling us, “The bus seats were clearly marked to show whether they were in use or not”.
Stagecoach operate the B9 route from Hardwick to Banbury. On their website is states, “Wearing a face covering is now mandatory on all public transport in England and Scotland and we’d urge you to wear a face covering in Wales, if you can. It’s important that you follow the new government law for your safety and the safety of your fellow passengers and our employees”.
There are a number of exemptions to the requirement to wear a facemask and Stagecoach acknowledge these on their website: “We’ve updated our Journey Assistance scheme so that anyone who is exempt from wearing a face covering will be able to show the card to their driver”.
We contacted Stagecoach with details of the situation as described above but they have not responded to our request for a comment.
On the Stagecoach website the issue of preventing bus users without facemasks from using busses by the driver is addressed. Stagecoach say, “In line with the government guidelines, we are asking our drivers to engage, encourage and explain the new regulations to customers. The regulations are still very new and it will take time for everybody to adapt. Our drivers do reserve the right to prevent people from boarding the bus if they feel this is the right course of action”.
The Stagecoach website also suggests what bus users should do if someone else is travelling without a face covering. It says, “Please bear in mind that some people are exempt from wearing a face covering and the reason why may not be immediately obvious. This is a big change and may take a little time for people to get used to, our drivers will remind passengers that face coverings are now compulsory when travelling by bus unless they are exempt”.
However Stagecoach suggest it is not their responsibility to implement the rule to wear face masks: “Ultimately, only police forces have the powers to enforce the new regulations by fining those not wearing face coverings as required. We’ll continue to appeal to customers to act responsibly and follow the Government’s rules. Our drivers do have the discretion to refuse customers or contact the police where they think it is necessary. Under exceptional circumstances, we may need to take further action by involving local police, but this would be a last resort”.
The lady who spoke to us noted her return journey was problem free. She said, “Coming home was ok as everyone was wearing a mask”.
The requirement to wear a face mask on public transport is widely advertised. She told us, “There were messages about mask wearing and being refused bus entry posted on the town bus shelter”.
The experience has left the lady not wishing to use the bus service again. She said, “I believe it is a serious issue and safety rules must not be flouted due to the seriousness of the virus.
“I believe Stagecoach themselves need to really stress the importance of passenger safety”.
Published: by Banbury FM Newsteam