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What's happening: Preston's Public Transport

There's been a lot of movement in the past couple of days around public transport and social distancing, particularly around the Preston and South Ribble areas.  With the announcement of new services being laid on and the reduction in social distancing guidelines it looks like bus users around the area can start to return to some semblance of normality, face coverings at the ready.  I've got my very own penguins of madagascar one ready to go!

So what do these changes actually mean for public transport users?

There's been a lot of talk lately in the industry about how people are actually going to manage to socially distance of buses.  Although many of these discussions took place before the '1 meter or more' rule came in to play, 1 meter was discussed in detail.  It helps, but there are still major problems.

You see, most of us know that public transport was supposed to run at full capacity.  There were never supposed to be empty seats.  And yet even before this started, we were more than familiar with the ghost bus.  When I lived in Plymouth, I used to see double deckers 6-8 times a day thundering down our lane, which was far too narrow for them, with 1 person on board.  This was never a good use of resources. 

My next door neighbour used to call it the peasant wagon.  Coming from quite a sheltered background I'll never forget the shock at hearing that, considering the area we lived in wasn't exactly salubrious.  But that is the attitude of many who don't use public transport.  Certainly for many who don't or won't use it, there is the perception of it being unsafe, dirty and unreliable.  This is a stigma that needs to be removed if there is to be any hope for the future.

It's the age old problem for suppliers though, how to balance cost effective with need whilst removing stigma.  Traditionally costs have been cut to rural locations, which to me has always painted the image of the tired old lady with very little left in the cupboard looking folornly at the bus stop where the bus has been cancelled.  It might not be the reality for most but it is a reality somewhere out there!