A Warwickshire coach operator is helping to restart the local economy by devising a new service to get the region’s workforce safely back in operation.
Johnsons Coaches, which operates more than 50 coaches across the West Midlands, has drawn up new social distancing guidelines for its fleet to provide a safer alternative to other forms of public transport and which can be used by local companies.
Their current fleet ranges from mini-bus vehicles to larger executive coaches, suitable for any business size.
It comes as workers who are unable to work from home – such as those in construction and manufacturing – are being asked to return to work via public transport where social distancing measures are difficult.
And as big Warwickshire-based companies such as Jaguar Land Rover – who employ thousands of staff in the region – attempt to play their part in reigniting the economy, Johnsons Coaches is stepping in to allay any fears of using public transport.
John Johnson, Commercial Director at Johnsons Coaches, said: “The current situation is a double-edged sword for employers – on one hand they are asking their staff to return to work, but for some who rely on public transport, there is also a risk that they could be exposing themselves to Coronavirus in the process by travelling on other forms of overcrowded public transport.
“However, we have come up with a solution that will enable large employers to transport their staff to and from work safely to improve their wellbeing.
“We have halved the capacity of our coaches and buses to ensure that passengers will always be at least one metre away from another person, and each coach will be disinfected after every journey – two important points that can’t be guaranteed on public transport.
“As the country continues to edge out of lockdown, we hope that more businesses, schools and other groups consider ways that they can contribute to ensuring everyday transport is as safe as possible for their staff, pupils or members.”
This form of socially distanced travel is new for Johnsons Coaches, which is based in Henley-in-Arden and has been offering day trips, holidays and specialist coach hire for decades.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, portfolio holder for economic development and Leader of Warwickshire County Council, added: “A key way of boosting our economy will be by businesses helping each other where possible, and this is a brilliant example of that.
“We have seen public transport overwhelmed with commuters in other parts of the country, and it’s important locally that we have infrastructure in place to ease the future burden on our buses and trains when lockdown eases further over the coming weeks.”
Johnsons Coaches are members of Shakespeare’s England, the Destination Management Organisation for South Warwickshire, which works to promote tourism in the region.
Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England, added: “As we start to come out of lockdown, it is more important than ever for local companies to come together and support each other where they can.
“Many of our members have been working to support their local communities and other businesses during lockdown, and this scheme by Johnsons Coaches is another perfect example of how this can continue as the restrictions start to ease.”
For more information about Johnsons Coaches’ new Safe Operating Procedures and Socially Distanced Coach Capacity Guidelines, visit www.johnsonscoaches.co.uk