South Wales operator NAT Group is gearing up for an increase in passenger numbers as lockdown measures are reduced and people begin to return to work.
The company, which has depots across the region and operates more than 150 vehicles, says it is adapting to current safety measures, having been running reduced services since the ‘Stay at Home’ message was first announced in March, as well as free travel for key workers and a contactless payment system. It is currently carrying around 9 per cent of the passengers it would normally carry, although there has been a slight increase starting around two weeks ago.
NAT is also switching its entire operation to just domestic operations and is voluntarily amending its operating licence to a standard national one and now focusing on UK private hire and bus operations.
Limited seats are available on each NAT bus journeys to ensure passengers can socially distance and is considering a number of further measures including increased signage and physical seat restrictions.
In addition to temporary protective driver screens, NAT says it is now considering specifying adjustable protective screens on any new vehicles purchased.
“The safety of our customers and staff will always be our priority and we are complying with all requirements the government has asked of us, however, it has been incredibly hard to get hold of PPE, with many bulk orders understandably being diverted to the NHS,” says NAT Group managing director Adam Keen. “Social distancing will mean much lower passenger numbers and a lightly loaded bus is generally loss-making for the company.
“Putting more buses on to cope with additional passenger numbers is going to be very difficult financially.
“We, and other operators, are now in regular discussions with Welsh Government officials to try and secure stimulus funding to support us through this very difficult period of time.”