Masks will not be mandatory on many buses in the West Midlands from July 19 – while coverings will still be needed on “busy” trains.
The Government has said it will be up to operators to decide whether passengers will be required to wear face coverings from Monday.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents bus operators is issuing advice – and said it is important to “respect everyone’s right to choose whether to wear a face covering”.
“We expect that many people, especially in busy places, will follow the Prime Minister’s call to continue to wear a face covering as a courtesy to others.
“Passengers though will find it difficult to understand why the Prime Minister has singled out public transport as somewhere to wear a face covering when a range of other activities share its characteristics.
“We now need to see clear guidance for operators and customers but, in the absence of regulations, it is important that we respect everyone’s right to choose whether to wear a face covering.
“The industry is doing everything it can to ensure people can travel with confidence. Operators will continue to deliver enhanced cleaning regimes, ensure buses are well ventilated and provide tools such as apps to allow customers to see how busy their bus is and help plan their journey in advance.”
NX Bus said customers will be able to choose whether they wear a mask on West Midlands buses from Monday (July 19th 2021).
A spokesperson said: “Following changes to Government rules, from Monday July 19, National Express West Midlands customers can choose whether they wear a face covering on public transport.
“It is important that we respect everyone’s right to choose whether to wear a face covering.”
A spokesperson for Diamond Bus said the group would continue to ask customers to wear a mask – but drivers would not be asked to enforce the rule.
They said: “Government guidance still strongly recommends that wearing a face covering in enclosed or busy public spaces is an important factor in protecting yourself and others around you.
“In line with this recommendation, Diamond Bus will respectfully ask that customers continue to protect themselves and others by choosing to wear a face covering onboard unless they are exempt.
In regards to train services, Cross Country Trains, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Railway/London Northwestern Railway referred the LDRS to the Rail Delivery Group’s (RDG) position.
The RDG is issuing guidance to train operators and have said people will be asked to wear face coverings if carriages are busy.
A spokesperson said: “Rail companies will ask people to follow the government guidance and, out of respect for others, wear face coverings if an indoor setting is busy.
“Train travel is low risk, with the majority of carriages well ventilated by air conditioning systems or by doors and windows.
“As restrictions lift, we will continue carrying out extra cleaning and providing better information about how busy services are, so that our passengers can travel with confidence.”
A spokesperson for Transport for West Midlands, the West Midlands Combined Authority’s transport arm, said: “We are, in cooperation with transport partners, in the process of updating the advice on face coverings.
“We want people to use public transport as we recover from the pandemic and, crucially, we want people to feel safe on board. Transport operators will continue with the cleaning regimes they have adopted throughout the pandemic.
“The vast majority of people have been very helpful and followed the rules on board our buses, trains and trams throughout the pandemic.
“We would ask therefore that they continue to be considerate to fellow passengers and our transport staff.”
What do you think? Will you be throwing your masks away? Or will you be continuing to wear yours? Feel free to comment below!