(Wera Hobhouse taking part in the Zoom meeting)
Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse and Regional Mayor Dan Norris are both backing calls for the wearing of face masks to be made mandatory on public transport.
This follows a Zoom meeting with the Managing Director of First Bus, Doug Claringbold in which he raised concerns about funding from central Government, shortages of bus drivers, and concerns over people not wearing masks.
In response, Mr Claringbold reiterated the importance of wearing a face-covering while on board and the Bath MP and Dan Norris back calls to make this mandatory. Mr Claringbold is concerned that the Recovery Funding and financial support provided was based on the assumption that patronage would grow by an amount which has not been realised.
Commenting after both meetings, Wera said:
“Ultimately, we want to avoid any local bus services being cut. There is a cliff edge approaching in April and Government support must look to address this gap. Some residents are avoiding using buses because they can see that not all bus passengers are wearing face masks, putting others at risk. With Covid cases still high, people feel safer in cars. The Government should make it mandatory for passengers on all public transportation to wear masks. We need a long-term solution to a problem that has an impact on residents’ lives.”
Wera also met with Doug Claringbold, Managing Director of First West of England. He said:
“I was pleased to meet with Wera Hobhouse to discuss the issues affecting Bath’s buses. The last few months have been challenging given the national driver shortage, high levels of sickness and staff having to self-isolate when necessary to protect both our customers and colleagues.
“We have been grateful for the financial support from the government given through the pandemic. Buses have a massive role to play in providing connected transport to communities and addressing the climate emergency. However, the future remains uncertain with the level of bus patronage across the country being less than previously anticipated and financial support to the current network ending in April next year.
“It was very useful to discuss these issues with Wera and to recognise her very significant support and advocacy for existing and future bus customers.”
Cllr Sarah Warren commented:
“Government must provide more financial support to help bus services get back on their feet and deliver a service that matches our ambition in response to the climate emergency. We need to get more people feeling happy and confident to go on buses in the knowledge that they are both safe and reliable. I support calls for mandatory face coverings on public transport and look forward to working to bring back Bath’s buses.”