STAGECOACH Cumbria & North Lancashire has today updated its guidance to customers on fare payment methods on its services while the current special bus network arrangements are in place.
In addition to asking customers to use contactless, mobile or pre-payment methods, from Wednesday, May 20 an exact fare system will be in place for passengers who can only pay by cash.
Under the new temporary arrangement, any additional cash received as a result of not giving change will be donated to the NHS Charities Together Appeal, which supports NHS staff and workers.
Exact fare systems have been in use by some bus operators in different parts of the country for many years.
Rob Jones, Managing Director for Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire said: “We would like to thank our customers for their help in keeping our drivers and their fellow passengers safe at the current time.
“Although the majority of customers are now using contactless and other digital forms of payment, many key workers still rely on cash to pay for their journey.
“Along with the other steps we are taking in line with government and public health guidance, this additional exact fare measure will mean everyone who needs to travel can do so and stay safe.
“We are very proud of the incredible job all key workers, including our own drivers and support teams, are doing as part of the national effort.”
The UK’s first dedicated app-based demand responsive bus service for NHS workers is set to be launched this month as the health service continues to play a critical role in tackling the coronavirus pandemic, Stagecoach announced today.
The Perth-based bus group is working in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Trust and ViaVan, the company that provides digital infrastructure to power public mobility in cities across Europe, to launch the new ‘Stagecoach Connect’ service.
The service will come into effect for a trial at King’s Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield from Monday (May 18). Stagecoach, Britain’s biggest bus and coach operator, is also involved in discussions with other NHS Trusts, including in Humberside, about the roll out of a similar service.
Stagecoach’s customised travel solution, branded as Stagecoach Connect, was developed from concept to delivery with ViaVan in just two weeks to help NHS employees access hospitals and other key workplaces in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The service at King’s Mill Hospital will operate early in the morning and late evening hours, an expansion from the existing fixed line service which is focused on creating access for healthcare workers during additional shift patterns. In this way those key workers do not have to worry about a tired drive home or finding a car parking space during busy times.
Stagecoach Connect is a digitally powered transport service that enables NHS workers to get to-and-from work with ease and in comfort.
Through the use of a mobile app, powered by ViaVan’s technology for demand-responsive transport, healthcare workers are able to track the location of their bus, change or cancel a booking, and pre-book up to one week in advance to match upcoming shift schedules.
The new demand responsive service is part of the emergency scheduled bus network currently in place for key workers being provided by Stagecoach and other bus operators around the country.
“We have all been overwhelmed and deeply proud of the huge effort of all key workers, particularly our fantastic doctors, nurses, cleaners and their support teams right across the NHS,” said Stagecoach chief Executive Martin Griffiths.
“Along with other transport operators, we have worked hard to continue providing key links to essential services and have adapted our schedules to meet the needs of key workers. But we know from our discussions with the NHS that a more tailored solution would deliver better employee transport and we wanted to help with that.
In just two weeks, we have worked with our partners to develop a new dedicated service that will go live this month and help to ensure essential hospital workers have fast and easy access to public transport around the clock
Griffiths added: “We firmly believe that demand responsive transport, backed up by an easy technology solution, has huge potential right across the NHS and for other major organisations seeking a better and more sustainable solution to crowded car parks and unnecessary ‘single use’ polluting car trips.
“As we come out of lockdown into our new normal, we are looking at how this type of service can support the public and private sector in getting back on its feet, and helping communities across the country recover.”
Ben Widdowson, associate director for estates and facilities for Sherwood Forest Hospitals, said: “I would like to thank Stagecoach for their work on this app, I think it will really help colleagues who need to use public transport at this difficult time. It is great that we have been able to work together to find a solution to keep our staff who need to use public transport as safe as possible.”
Nottinghamshire County Council is supporting the service to ensure key workers can get to work during the current crisis. In the longer term, Councillor John Cottee, chair of the council’s Communities and Place committee, said it would help shape future investment by the authority in local bus services.
Earlier this year, Stagecoach launched a new Tees Flex on demand service in Tees Valley as the result of a partnership with the mayor of Tees Valley, ViaVan also provides the technology to power the Tees Flex service.
Cities today have an unprecedented opportunity to employ technology to make public transit work safely and efficiently while creating digitally-driven solutions that ensure affordable and equitable access for all
Chris Snyder, ViaVan CEO said: “We are proud to work with Stagecoach to quickly launch Stagecoach Connect during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to leverage our flexible digital platform to help our partners rapidly introduce and scale mobility solutions for essential workers.
“With the future of public transport in the United Kingdom at a crossroads in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, cities today have an unprecedented opportunity to employ technology to make public transit work safely and efficiently while creating digitally-driven solutions that ensure affordable and equitable access for all.”
The NHS is one of the world’s largest employers with around 1.7 million workers across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland working at hundreds of locations across the UK.