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Author Topic: Mask policy - Stagecoach buses from next Monday  (Read 1375 times)
grahame
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« on: July 16, 2021, 12:32:21 pm »

TravelWatch SouthWest asked public transport operators in our area to consider an enforced mask mandate from next Monday on their services - as is happen in London on TfL» (Transport for London - about) services, in Wales, and on trams in Manchester.  Sharing here a reply from Rupert Cox at Stagecoach.

Quote
Thank you for your recent letter regarding the challenging topic of face masks. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to reply any quicker.

Following the Prime Minister's announcements on 5 and 12 July, we have been considering our most suitable response, and doing so, alongside the wider bus industry through CPT. During the past couple of weeks, it is clear that the PM and Cabinet positions have shifted, even if slightly, and of course we have seen Metro Mayors give their position.

Whatever decision we arise at, we believe must follow Government guidance, as the implementation of anything that varies from this will only cause conflict on board buses.

The Stagecoach position across England, will be as follows:
* Continuing with good hygiene and ventilation, including current cleaning regimes, the supply of cab cleaning kits and window blocks on vehicles.
* Self-isolation, contact tracing and regular testing continues.
* Face coverings will no longer be mandatory, but we’ll be letting customers know we expect them to wear one on board if they can and ask colleagues to continue to wear them if they can as well. It will be people’s personal choice and we must respect everyone’s decisions.
* Cab screens and speech-hole coverings remain.
* Social distancing will no longer be mandatory, meaning the majority of seats will now be available as well as standing on buses. Seats directly adjacent to the entrance door on buses and the front seat on coaches will remain out of use. In the workplace, government guidance still requires us to have measures in place to reduce contact between people.

Clearly, this means that we won't be mandating that all customers (or those that can) must wear a face mask. We have chosen this, along with the CPT, as we don't wish to increase the conflict that drivers could face. We will of course closely monitor this approach, and seek feedback from customers and our frontline staff.

The details I've outlined will begin to be communicated to customers and staff today.

Whilst I realise that this approach doesn't fully meet your request, I hope you can understand why, and that we'll continue to do our best in making customers and staff feel as comfortable as possible.

One of my fellow directors at TWSW» (TravelWatch SouthWest - website) follow up around our group:

Quote
The trouble with this crazy dilemma that HMG has put operators in is that it relies on the wrong people to make the decision as to whether or not a mask should be worn. People who are highly vulnerable to infection by others are the ones who should have the choice, not the devil-may-cares who won't even bother about the potential effect they may have on other passengers.

What is the point of my wearing a mask when some idiot who went to a football match, or some other crowded location isn't thinking about the fact that masks are to protect all the other passengers, not the wearer himself?

This strikes me as being a recipe for making public transport unpopular again for the very people who need it.

And, sadly, I can't fault her logic on that.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2021, 12:50:01 pm »

Even if they do mandate it, as we have seen on GWR (Great Western Railway), they can't/won't enforce it.

Responsible people will show consideration for others and wear a mask, selfish people won't.

What train, bus etc companies could do very easily is make mask wearing compulsory in their conditions of carriage, even on a temporary basis and publicise it.....nothing wrong with taking a bit of ownership corporately. Given the older demographic of a lot of bus users, it'd probably be applauded.
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2021, 04:04:16 pm »

Even if they do mandate it, as we have seen on GWR (Great Western Railway), they can't/won't enforce it.

Responsible people will show consideration for others and wear a mask, selfish people won't.

What train, bus etc companies could do very easily is make mask wearing compulsory in their conditions of carriage, even on a temporary basis and publicise it.....nothing wrong with taking a bit of ownership corporately. Given the older demographic of a lot of bus users, it'd probably be applauded.


I understand that, whether it is UK (United Kingdom) law or railway bye laws, the only organisation with the legal power to enforce it is BTP (British Transport Police).
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2021, 06:09:28 pm »

Even if they do mandate it, as we have seen on GWR (Great Western Railway), they can't/won't enforce it.

Responsible people will show consideration for others and wear a mask, selfish people won't.

What train, bus etc companies could do very easily is make mask wearing compulsory in their conditions of carriage, even on a temporary basis and publicise it.....nothing wrong with taking a bit of ownership corporately. Given the older demographic of a lot of bus users, it'd probably be applauded.


I understand that, whether it is UK (United Kingdom) law or railway bye laws, the only organisation with the legal power to enforce it is BTP (British Transport Police).

Conditions of carriage are contractual conditions between passengers and the provider - surely this means that should someone refuse to wear a mask (unless they are in one of the exempt categories), when the conditions say it's compulsory, then they can be refused carriage? (Happy to be corrected if that isn't the case).

I absolutely get that Train Managers are unlikely to start slinging people off trains, however were it to be publicised as a condition, it may well make people think and understand their obligations more clearly?

I'm really hoping that people use common sense on this one and continue to wear masks on public transport - buses/trains/Tubes are potential viral petri dishes.
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Lee
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2021, 11:55:36 pm »

Even if they do mandate it, as we have seen on GWR (Great Western Railway), they can't/won't enforce it.

Responsible people will show consideration for others and wear a mask, selfish people won't.

What train, bus etc companies could do very easily is make mask wearing compulsory in their conditions of carriage, even on a temporary basis and publicise it.....nothing wrong with taking a bit of ownership corporately. Given the older demographic of a lot of bus users, it'd probably be applauded.


I understand that, whether it is UK (United Kingdom) law or railway bye laws, the only organisation with the legal power to enforce it is BTP (British Transport Police).

Conditions of carriage are contractual conditions between passengers and the provider - surely this means that should someone refuse to wear a mask (unless they are in one of the exempt categories), when the conditions say it's compulsory, then they can be refused carriage? (Happy to be corrected if that isn't the case).

I absolutely get that Train Managers are unlikely to start slinging people off trains, however were it to be publicised as a condition, it may well make people think and understand their obligations more clearly?

I'm really hoping that people use common sense on this one and continue to wear masks on public transport - buses/trains/Tubes are potential viral petri dishes.


My personal view is that all of this is largely irrelevant, as the masks, along with another national lockdown, will be back by autumn.

Whether that will also be the case on my side of the channel is still in the balance. I suspect they will try and control it by insisting on the showing of Covid Vaccination Passports for most everyday activities - including using public transport - first.

Ultimately though, we all have a choice to make in the near future. Do we want a world where politicians panic at the first sign of a new variant or leap in the number of infections, and keep a largely fully-vaccinated population face-hidden and distant from one another across internal and external barriers - witness tonight's singling out of France to keep quarantine for returning travellers despite having tens of thousands less Covid cases per day than the UK - and regularly locked down...

...or are we going to at least try and return to some vestige of what is officially known as "the old normal", and at least some of us used to call "freedom?"

And if it is to be the former rather than the latter, then what exactly is the point of the current mass vaccination programme anyway?
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2021, 07:42:42 am »

Agree re: Autumn

If I'm honest (and I know it's a personal thing) I don't really feel that my basic freedom is threatened by wearing a mask on public transport or in other areas where larger numbers of people come into contact indoors in a confined space. I'm happy to live with a bit of minor inconvenience to preserve my own and others lives.

The volatility of the situation is understood by most I think and those willing to take a gamble on booking summer holidays abroad this year have to accept that sometimes gamblers lose.

I do sympathise/empathise with those unable to visit family however, having been kept apart from my own for nine months.

We perhaps shouldn't be too surprised that we are where we are taking into account 60,000 at Wembley last week and at football matches, Wimbledon etc for several weeks before with associated carousing...................and today there are 80,000/tomorrow 140,000 at Silverstone.............we reap what we sow.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2021, 08:02:39 am by TaplowGreen » Logged
froome
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2021, 08:05:37 am »

Agree re: Autumn

If I'm honest (and I know it's a personal thing) I don't really feel that my basic freedom is threatened by wearing a mask on public transport or in other areas where larger numbers of people come into contact indoors in a confined space. I'm happy to live with a bit of minor inconvenience to preserve my own and others lives.

The volatility of the situation is understood by most I think and those willing to take a gamble on booking summer holidays abroad this year have to accept that sometimes gamblers lose.

I do sympathise/empathise with those unable to visit family however, having been kept apart from my own for nine months.

We perhaps shouldn't be too surprised that we are where we are taking into account 60,000 at Wembley last week and at football matches, Wimbledon etc for several weeks before with associated carousing...................and tomorrow there will be 140,000 at Silverstone.............we reap what we sow.

I agree with this. Personally I don't like wearing a mask, and occasionally it does cause me minor difficulties, but in the grander scheme of things, I have no problem doing so where it appears to give greater benefit. Public transport is, and no doubt always has been, a major carrier of diseases and viruses, because people are in close proximity and are the carriers. We've always accepted this, though it will undoubtedly have put some vulnerable people off from ever using it, and the pandemic is now making this situation more clear, as suddenly in 2020 we found out we were all relatively vulnerable to this newcomer.

To answer Lee's last sentence - the point of the vaccination programme is to speed up immunity amongst enough of the population to make a return to the 'old normal' a reasonable proposition. The question is whether we are there yet. As Taplow Green says, we are reaping what we have sown.
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2021, 08:56:52 am »

From Frome Bus

Quote
We are asking all passengers to continue the wearing of face coverings unless they are medically exempt.

From Faresaver

Quote
From Monday the wearing of a face covering is still mandatory on all home to school transport unless you have a medical exemption.

We also strongly recommend that face coverings are worn on scheduled services for the comfort of other passengers.

We are continuing to provide hand sanitiser and ask that passengers leave windows open to improve ventilation.

We also recommend that passengers pay using contactless methods or using mobile ticketing where available.

We thank you for your ongoing co-operation and support.
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ellendune
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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2021, 02:13:30 pm »

...or are we going to at least try and return to some vestige of what is officially known as "the old normal", and at least some of us used to call "freedom?"

And if it is to be the former rather than the latter, then what exactly is the point of the current mass vaccination programme anyway?

The point of the vaccination programme is to to get back to 'normal' when we have achieved herd immunity. The level of immunity required to achieve that depends on the transmissibility of the virus. The Alpha variant was more transmissible than the original virus and the delta variant even more so. Every new more transmissible variant increases the target.  The last figure I heard for the required level of immunity was 85% of the whole population. At present we are way off that level and to achive it we will probably have to vaccinate secondary school age children. 

Opening up early brings with it the risk that a new variant that resists the vaccine will emerge and set us back even further.  The panic about France is that the Beta variant which originated in S Africa that is common in France is more resistant to the vaccine and especially the Astra Zeneca vaccine.  A cross between the beta and the delta in the viral stew we are brewing here would be make a return to normal even more difficult. 
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Lee
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« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2021, 03:09:21 pm »

TaplowGreen and froome are of course entitled to their opinions. My worry I guess is that, after a long period of everyone pretty much holding the line of an "irreversible" unlocking roadmap - notwithstanding of course the delay to the final stage - over the past few days Boris Johnson, Savid Javid, and Chris Whitty have all started to subtly weave into their narratives the same "Except if..." get-out clause, which is "Variants".

Essentially, the decision to make France the only country on the amber list from where people coming in or returning to the UK (United Kingdom) will have to quarantine is an experiment into how this get-out clause could work in practice. What they are effectively saying is because the Beta or South African variant is present in France, and there is a possibility - no more than that at this stage - that it could evade the vaccine protection, then it doesnt matter whether you are fully vaccinated or not, you must still quarantine. In turn, if this leads to a more widespread use of this interpretation when such a variant comes along when formulating the rules of daily life in the UK, leading on to the regular lockdown of millions of fully vaccinated UK residents, this also risks making the "speed up immunity amongst enough of the population to make a return to the 'old normal' a reasonable proposition" argument completely redundant.

So I ask again, what exactly would the point of the current mass vaccination programme be in that scenario? My own answer would be that at some point you have to start putting your faith in the level of protection that the vaccines will still give you and start moving on with life again, otherwise there literally is no alternative to the current "lockdown, release, lockdown, release, lockdown..." rut we have got ourselves into.

There is a supreme irony here for me, of course. As you know, I work in the public transport system over here in France, and after the first lockdown ended, we were faced with the difficult task of how to both ensure the safety of our passengers, and to reassure them that it was indeed safe to use our services. On the trains, we resisted the temptation to follow the UK's lead and issue a kneejerk reaction "train travel is dangerous" edict, which as a result has kneecapped the future prospects of the UK rail network for at least a couple of generations. Instead the French government issued a blanket law requiring masks to be worn on all forms of public transport, which remains in place to this day, and is likely to remain in place for some time to come. It is enforced extremely strictly - At a staffed station you wont even get on the platform without wearing one, and if you join a train at an unstaffed one without wearing a mask you will soon be told to put one on in short order. Surveys and feedback tell us this is the single biggest factor that persuades Covid-fearing waverers to take the plunge and catch the train, and is thus also a big factor in our passenger figures remaining relatively stable, at least at our local/regional service level. As a result, we are able to move away from the negative spectre of service cuts and continue to take forward our rolling programme of reopenings and new service introductions.

Obviously, I dont like the fact from a personal and civil liberty perspective that the mask is so ever-present wherever I go on the network, but I also passionately want that network to survive and thrive into the future, so I just have to be pragmatic and accept it for now, although hopefully for no more than absolutely necessary.

I just hope that we arent back here posting much same thing after having had much the same kind of winter as last time round. For me, that would be the biggest fear of all.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2021, 03:41:59 pm »

TaplowGreen and froome are of course entitled to their opinions.


Very gracious, thankyou!  Smiley
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froome
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« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2021, 03:58:15 pm »

TaplowGreen and froome are of course entitled to their opinions. My worry I guess is that, after a long period of everyone pretty much holding the line of an "irreversible" unlocking roadmap - notwithstanding of course the delay to the final stage - over the past few days Boris Johnson, Savid Javid, and Chris Whitty have all started to subtly weave into their narratives the same "Except if..." get-out clause, which is "Variants".

Essentially, the decision to make France the only country on the amber list from where people coming in or returning to the UK (United Kingdom) will have to quarantine is an experiment into how this get-out clause could work in practice. What they are effectively saying is because the Beta or South African variant is present in France, and there is a possibility - no more than that at this stage - that it could evade the vaccine protection, then it doesnt matter whether you are fully vaccinated or not, you must still quarantine. In turn, if this leads to a more widespread use of this interpretation when such a variant comes along when formulating the rules of daily life in the UK, leading on to the regular lockdown of millions of fully vaccinated UK residents, this also risks making the "speed up immunity amongst enough of the population to make a return to the 'old normal' a reasonable proposition" argument completely redundant.

So I ask again, what exactly would the point of the current mass vaccination programme be in that scenario? My own answer would be that at some point you have to start putting your faith in the level of protection that the vaccines will still give you and start moving on with life again, otherwise there literally is no alternative to the current "lockdown, release, lockdown, release, lockdown..." rut we have got ourselves into.

There is a supreme irony here for me, of course. As you know, I work in the public transport system over here in France, and after the first lockdown ended, we were faced with the difficult task of how to both ensure the safety of our passengers, and to reassure them that it was indeed safe to use our services. On the trains, we resisted the temptation to follow the UK's lead and issue a kneejerk reaction "train travel is dangerous" edict, which as a result has kneecapped the future prospects of the UK rail network for at least a couple of generations. Instead the French government issued a blanket law requiring masks to be worn on all forms of public transport, which remains in place to this day, and is likely to remain in place for some time to come. It is enforced extremely strictly - At a staffed station you wont even get on the platform without wearing one, and if you join a train at an unstaffed one without wearing a mask you will soon be told to put one on in short order. Surveys and feedback tell us this is the single biggest factor that persuades Covid-fearing waverers to take the plunge and catch the train, and is thus also a big factor in our passenger figures remaining relatively stable, at least at our local/regional service level. As a result, we are able to move away from the negative spectre of service cuts and continue to take forward our rolling programme of reopenings and new service introductions.

Obviously, I dont like the fact from a personal and civil liberty perspective that the mask is so ever-present wherever I go on the network, but I also passionately want that network to survive and thrive into the future, so I just have to be pragmatic and accept it for now, although hopefully for no more than absolutely necessary.

I just hope that we arent back here posting much same thing after having had much the same kind of winter as last time round. For me, that would be the biggest fear of all.

I actually agree with most, if not all, of what you say, particularly your 4th paragraph. If the variants hadn't complicated matters, I would have expected us to have opened up fully here some time ago. However, they have appeared, and currently have the potential to both spread very quickly and possibly, at least to an extent, evade the effect of the vaccines. Right now, the UK feels like it is going backwards very quickly, with many more people ignoring mask wearing and social distancing, while cases rise at an alarming rate, and deaths and hospitalisations are also rising. It certainly doesn't feel like the right time to try our current experiment in opening up and advising caution.
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2021, 04:14:01 pm »

I also have a cynical suspicion that the administrative classes like rules, regulations, and restrictions for their own sake and/or to protect jobs in the civil service.
"Covid compliance" is a huge new industry that wont willingly be closed down.

Restrictions on the opening hours of public houses were a "temporary" measure introduced in the first war to stop munitions workers drinking instead of working. It took a lifetime to partially remove these restrictions.   

The MOT testing of motor vehicles was intended to be a temporary requirement after the second war. The idea was rid the roads the pre-war "old bangers" that had been kept on the roads with often bodged repairs during the wartime and immediate post war shortage of parts and spares.
No question of abolition these days, indeed the MOT test becomes ever more complex than the original basic examination of lights, tyres, steering, brakes, and no bits tied on with string.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2021, 04:44:06 pm »

The MOT testing of motor vehicles was intended to be a temporary requirement after the second war. The idea was rid the roads the pre-war "old bangers" that had been kept on the roads with often bodged repairs during the wartime and immediate post war shortage of parts and spares.
The MOT test was originally introduced in 1960, some time after WW2.
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froome
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2021, 05:12:46 pm »

Just to add to what I said above.

It's not what I want, but I can see a very good case can be made for mask wearing to be a requirement for public transport for some time now, at least until we can be as close to 100% certain the pandemic is under complete control. In that scenario, at some point ideas such as mask-only carriages, as suggested elsewhere, could be considered, but the time for that is not now. Right now, what we desperately need is caution.
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