Cumbria’s main bus service operator says it is looking forward to working with Cumbria Tourism in the future to play its part in helping the local economy recover from devastating losses suffered as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, Cumbria Tourism announced that by the end of May, the total revenue generated by tourism across Cumbria – supporting 65,000 jobs – is likely to be impacted by a loss of £1.45bn – almost half of the annual income generated by the sector.
When the time is right, hundreds of tourism and hospitality businesses are looking forward to warmly welcoming back visitors to Cumbria, with Cumbria Tourism working to raise awareness of sustainable transport methods in help visitors make the most of the scenery as they travel around the county.
In the meantime, one of the organisation’s Strategic Partners, Stagecoach, is operating a reduced timetable on many routes throughout Cumbria, to help commuters and residents who need make essential trips. Public safety remains a top priority, with all passengers asked to pay by contactless methods where possible, or with the exact amount in coins to avoid unnecessary handling of cash by its drivers.
Further help has also come for older passengers, with the company lifting restrictions on concessionary passes, making them valid for use before 9:30am in line with early supermarket hours for the vulnerable. Social distancing measures are being observed on every service too, with capacity reached at 50% of seats taken on each vehicle. Protective screens provide a physical barrier between passengers and drivers to help prevent transmission, with additional cleaning of key touchpoints also introduced.
Rob Jones, Managing Director of Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire says, “We’re operating a reduced winter service in Lakes at the moment, with the hopes that we can soon welcome back tourists when it is safe to do so and play our part in getting Cumbria back on its feet. We also hope to see increased bus travel in the longer term, helping to improve air quality and giving us a cleaner environment as a result of visitors using their cars less often.
“I am extremely proud of the way in way our team in the Cumbria & North Lancashire is pulling together to ensure that we can continue to deliver our services. They are key workers too and I would like to thank them for their continued support and resilience in these challenging times.”
Personal hand sanitiser has been provided for employees, with larger refill bottles available at depots. One driver comments, “I’m very proud that we’re playing a really big part in the community effort, with bus drivers and healthcare workers, all working together to help us get through this difficult time. The thanks that we’re getting from other key workers across the country is also helping us to get through this.”
Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Stagecoach has carried out extensive customer communications, reflecting Cumbria Tourism’s vital message asking people only to travel if necessary. Like Stagecoach, we look forward to being able to move ahead in the future and traveling by bus will help us to rebuild the local economy while also looking after the natural environment which makes The Lake District, Cumbria, a world class place to both live and visit.”