Call to curb Wigan bus passenger numbers to stop Indian variant

Atherton councillor Stuart Gerrard said he “cannot see any sense” in allowing more people to use buses and trains

Friday, 4th June 2021, 7:00 am

Increasing numbers of passengers on public transport risk fueling the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus to Wigan borough.

That is the fear of Atherton councillor Stuart Gerrard who said he “cannot see any sense” in allowing more people to use buses and trains.

Coun Gerrard said that Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) was insistent that the allowance of increased numbers on public transport with no social distancing since lockdown eased on May 17, is the right route to follow.

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Coun Gerrard
Coun Gerrard

But he has written to MPs and transport and council chiefs asking them to reconsider. He is particularly worried about commuters travelling in and out of Bolton which is home to a Delta (Indian) variant outbreak and has the highest case rate in the UK.

And new cases of the variant are found in Wigan each day.

Coun Gerrard said: “The allowance of increased numbers on public transport should not of been allowed. We should be doing our utmost to prevent the ease of transmission and control numbers still and as the Government often state, use common sense.

“The lack of response from those I’ve written too, tells me they are happy for this variant to be transmitted from the epicentre of the outbreak to other areas with ease.”

He added: “On the day the Government stringently advises not to travel in and out of Bolton without good reason, it seems TfGM is insistent that the allowance of increased numbers on public transport with no social distancing is the right route to follow.”

In a letter to Coun Gerrard, Bob Morris, chief operating officer at TfGM, said that any decision to implement specific localised restrictions would need to be required by Government guidance.

He said: “Now restrictions have been eased following the move to step three of the Government’s road map, it is vital that we support passengers who wish to travel within Greater Manchester.

“It is evident that Bolton continues to face challenges with the number of cases in relation to the Indian variant of Covid-19, however several services that operate in Bolton cross over into other local authorities and any decision to implement specific localised restrictions would need to be required by Government guidance.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation closely with bus operators on a daily basis. These operators have advised that they are enforcing the use of front-facing seats only and putting up ‘bus full’ displays if they reach capacity. Bus operators are also strongly encouraging that windows are kept open during travel.”

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