While Covid has heavily impacted the coach and bus sector, operators have found new ways to support the UK during the crisis.
Several have taken steps to convert their vehicles for use as ambulances to transport Covid sufferers to hospital, adapted vehicles for use as mobile vaccination centres and timetabled dedicated shuttle services to help the public safely attend vaccinations.
In London, Go-Ahead has loaned two buses to the NHS to be converted into makeshift ambulances. The electric single-deckers have been adapted to carry four patients safely with room for relevant medical equipment such as infusion pumps and monitors for patient observation. Equipment can be run from the buses’ batteries. Dedicated stops have also been created to help transfer patients.
The same company also launched the UK’s first Covid-19 mobile vaccination unit. A joint project between the Alliance for Better Care, which represents GPs across Crawley, Horsham, mid-Sussex and East Surrey, and Metrobus, the unit operates from Crawley and targets hard-to-reach and vulnerable communities. It was adapted by creating more room for medical staff and equipment and operates a one-way system using the bus’s dual doors.
Brighton & Hove and Metrobus managing director, Martin Harris, said, “Buses have an important part to play in the national effort against Covid, safely transporting key workers to hospital, shops and other workplaces and being there for passengers making other essential journeys. We will keep working with the NHS, local councils and other partners to do whatever we can to help out.”
The UK’s first dedicated vaccination shuttle services have also begun in recent weeks. Launched in two days, Go North East now runs its ConnectorShuttle service up to every 15 minutes between 5am and midnight every day.
Go North East managing director, Martijn Gilbert, said, “We’re committed to doing all that we can to work with partners to ensure that public transport plays its part in supporting this national effort with good quality, clean and safe public transport links, which is why we have very quickly mobilised this new special shuttle service.”