WORRIED drivers have claimed a decision to remove some social distancing tape on buses is causing “friction” amongst passengers. 

First Bus employees say people are now “sitting beside one another” on trips as there is no longer any block on forward facing seats in Glasgow. 

Union leaders and MSPs have been among those to raise concerns about the move – which came into effect this week – but the firm’s bosses insist the decision has brought them in line with Scottish Government guidance and that all safety measures remain in place. 

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One city driver, who asked not to be named, said: “People think those seats are now free for people to sit beside each other.

“I am a bit concerned about it. We are having incidents now where people are coming on a bus, sitting beside somebody, and it’s causing a bit of friction.

Glasgow Times:

“They were there for a reason. To let the people know they can’t sit there.” 

In a memo to staff, which has been seen by The Glasgow Times, interim managing director Duncan Cameron wrote: “...it’s clear the seat tape is looking tired and becoming difficult to maintain in its current format. 

“Following this review and consultation with front-line driving trade union representatives, we will start to remove all forward facing seat tape across the fleet from Sunday, June 20. 

“Side facing and rear facing seat tape will remain in place.” 

Wendy Dunsmore, industrial officer at union Unite, said: “Unite is adamant that any issues with social distancing or safety of our members whether they are drivers or passengers are taken seriously. 

“Covid has taken the lives of dozens of bus drivers across the UK and we have and will continue to campaign that driver and passenger safety is paramount.” 

Glasgow MSP Pauline McNeill said “As people start to return to public transport it is more important than ever that we make sure buses are safe. 

“Bus operators have received millions of pounds of public funding throughout the pandemic – the least they can do in return is follow the guidance. 

“There should be clear social distancing markings for the protection of drivers and the public alike. First Bus need to listen bus drivers’ concerns and put a stop to any changes that will compromise their safety at work.”

When concerns were put to First Bus, Mr Cameron said: “The safety of our staff and passengers will always be our number one priority and we continue to adhere to our strict Covid 19 social distancing measures on board all our services.

“We have seen an increase in full bus alerts due to passenger numbers increasing on our services, especially at the peak times, as more people begin to move around again and restrictions have eased.   

“Regrettably, on some occasions, this has resulted in key workers being unable to board the bus on their way from/to work. 

“Drivers have on many occasions reported this frustration to us. 

“We continue to follow the Scottish Govt guidance, which states that 1m social distancing must be in place on public transport, albeit the guidance recognises there will be occasions where this isn’t always possible.

Glasgow Times: Pauline McNeill raised concerns Pauline McNeill raised concerns

“As result we have taken the opportunity to change the formation and layout of our on board measures to ensure drivers have the flexibility on certain occasions to ensure key workers can board.  

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“All amendments have been made based on robust and detailed risk assessments to ensure the ongoing safety of customers and staff.  In addition these changes have the full support of our trade union representatives.

“First Bus is continuing to carry out an enhanced daily cleaning regime to protect against Covid-19 on surfaces. 

“Good ventilation and the uptake in use of mandatory face coverings by customers are other factors that help to keep travel safe for customers on-board.”