OTHER key workers playing a vital role during the coronavirus pandemic are bus drivers.

Mark Williams is a bus driver with Arriva Wales which was formerly Crosville before deregulation.

He has been working as a bus driver for about 27 years. If someone would have suggested to Mark that he would have been working as a bus driver in situations such as today, he would never have believed them.

The Leader:

Passengers on the Arriva No3 to Rhos

The life of a bus driver is an essential, everyday activity of transporting passengers on a regular basis from place to place.

It involves taking commuters to and from work, children to and from school or college, people to town to do their shopping, people to train stations to continue their onward journey etc.

Within a few months, those activities have literally all but ceased.

The Leader:

Front of the bus sectioned off for drivers

The service has been reduced to the point of essential journeys alone.

As a result of the current COVID-19 crisis, Arriva have virtually halved their fleet, reduced their services drastically, suspended certain routes temporarily and furloughed about half of their staff.

The outcome of this is that bus stations have been left eerily quiet and empty with sections locked off to the public.

The Leader:

The day-to-day operation of delivering a bus service for Wrexham and it’s outlying areas still remains but as a scaled down version.

The scaling down has been undertaken in accordance with government guidelines and advice. The whole procedure has been to adapt and to adapt quickly while, at the same time, continuing to provide a safe environment for staff and passengers alike. It is a strange and totally new working environment.

All remaining working staff have had to face up to some unprecedented changes while driving the buses, at garage locations or terminal points. Cash handling has been generally reduced to card-only.

The Leader:

Bus staff socially distancing

The general cleaning, fuelling and touch point sanitising of all vehicles in service has taken an increased significance.

Drivers cab safety and PPE are all areas of heightened focus.

The drivers realise that they are a lifeline for certain people and may be the only contact some of them will have during their day-to-day lives at this time.

However, as drivers, they are apprehensive with bus drivers now recognised as key workers providing an essential service on the front line.

The Leader:

Driver Mark Williams

The drivers are aware of a number of COVID-19 related deaths in the transport working sector across the UK, but there is a clear commitment from Arriva to their safety and protection at work through provision of PPE and thorough cleaning regimes.

The drivers also have real fears for their families, their jobs and the future of the transport industry.

They wonder how the industry will recover from this period.