When you’re ready to go out again, First Bus will be there to help you get where you need to go.
The shops are open, pub gardens are back and alfresco dining is a real possibility, so after months in lockdown, we can finally begin to explore the city again. But returning to normal means returning to public transport and a lot has changed over the last 12 months, especially on the buses. From socially distanced seats to space checkers and live capacity tracking, First Bus has made travel better for everyone. Here’s everything you need to know…
Find the quietest buses and the best times to travel
First Bus has launched two new features to make it easier for you to decide when to travel and which bus to get. The first is Space Checker, a tool that uses historic travel data to predict when routes are busiest. It looks seven days ahead, so you can plan your journeys in advance, and uses a traffic light system to indicate how busy or quiet it will be.
Space Checker is available online or through the app – and it’s super easy to use. Just choose your route, your bus stop and the direction you want to travel in, then use the hourly slots to find the best time to go. The great thing about Space Checker is that it’s continually updated, so as more people start to get the bus, more sections will turn to amber and red, helping you to plan your journey and stay safe.
But what if you need to travel right now? Well, you’re in luck, because they’ve added a new feature to the First Bus app. You can now check how much space is available, in real-time. Just search for your local stop and it will show how many seats are free on all the buses coming your way, including wheelchair spaces. Handy, right? Now you’ll know exactly how busy the bus is, so you can jump on board with confidence or choose to wait for the next one.
Go contactless to help keep everyone safe
To keep everyone as safe as possible and minimise the time passengers spend around the driver, First Bus is encouraging everyone to go contactless. It’s a safe, secure way to pay without cash. You can buy tickets up to the value of £45 – just ask the driver for your ticket as usual, then tap the blue card reader. It’s that simple. Want to pay on your phone? They accept contactless payments through Apple Pay and Google Pay too.
You can also buy your ticket through the First Bus app. It’s a great way to get organised before you board the bus and will cut down your interaction with the driver because all you have to do is scan the QR code on your phone. They offer a wide range of tickets on the app, from single journeys to annual passes. You can even buy U19 tickets on your phone and transfer them to your kids by text or email, making the school or college run that little bit easier.
Be it contactless or the app, buying your bus tickets has never been easier. But don’t worry if you’re not into all this new-fangled tech. First Bus is still accepting cash, although they ask that you try to use the correct change where possible, and they’ve covered the air holes in the screen between the driver and passengers to help keep you all safe. After all, everyone is different, and regardless of age or tech-savvy, everyone deserves to feel comfortable catching the bus.
Know what to expect when you get on the bus
So, how has travel changed? Well, bus capacity has been reduced by 50% to allow for social distancing. This means you can travel with confidence, but you may need to leave a little extra time for your journey. If the bus drives past you, it’s probably reached capacity, but since First Bus has returned to its pre-lockdown schedule, the next one should be along in a jiffy.
Onboard the bus, seats are marked with sashes to help you maintain a safe distance from other passengers, but if you’re travelling with someone from your household, it’s okay to sit together. Just be aware of the people around you to make sure everyone is comfortable. Similarly, windows are left open to improve airflow and help reduce the spread of coronavirus – it may get a bit chilly on cold days, so be sure to wrap up.
New cleaning procedures are now in place across the entire First Bus fleet. They use a long-lasting sanitiser overnight and throughout the day to keep touch surfaces clean, but you can help by following government guidelines and sanitising your hands before you get on board. Face masks or coverings are now required by law for all but a select few and must be worn throughout your journey. If you’re exempt, you can use their printable ‘Help To Travel’ cards to let the driver know in a subtle, non-invasive way.