Translink announce plans for travelling safely back to school
Translink, working in partnership with the Education Authority (EA) has put plans in place to enable children to return to school safely using public transport this autumn.
The plans see new guidance released for parents and carers setting out what steps will be taken to safeguard young people when they travel, alongside simple advice on the safety actions they can also take to protect themselves and others, so everyone travels safely together.
David Cowan, Translink Director of Commercial Operations explained, “Safety is always our top priority. In line with the Department for Education guidelines, we have worked with EA colleagues and local schools to introduce appropriate school transport from 1 September that aims to maximise services in order to help manage the number of pupils travelling at peak times. This will include operating extra school services and more ‘school only’ services, to provide increased capacity as required.
“We know this will be an unsettling time for parents and for many young people it will be their first time back on public transport. Many things will look different with a range of safety measures now on board and in stations for everyone’s protection.
“We expect that both scheduled timetabled services and dedicated ‘school only’ services will be busy at peak times and where possible, we encourage pupils to consider walking or cycling to and from school.
“We continue to enhance our safety standards withregular deep cleaning of our vehicles and facilities using long lasting anti-viral disinfectant and our mobile cleaning teams are sanitising common touch areas. We have protective screens in stations and on bus drivers cabs and have provided hand sanitiser in all main bus and train stations.
“It is now compulsory for all pupils aged 13 or over to wear a face covering on public transport and it is strongly recommended that all pupils regardless of age should wear a face covering on any form of home to school transport where it is appropriate for them to do so. Compliance is already very high at over 80% and together with our wider safety measures, passenger confidence is growing.
“It is important pupils also practice the wider safety and travel advice including good hand hygiene and use pre-paid tickets such as mLink or travelcards where they are not eligible for a sessional school pass. For everyone’s protection there will be no change given on board the bus and train.
“We would also ask parents / carers and schools for their patience at this time as every year it takes a bit of time for the school traffic to settle into a pattern and this year is even more challenging as we work through the impact of this pandemic.
“Translink has been at the frontline throughout this crisis helping get people to where they need to be and now, working together with the EA, we are ready to help get schools back up and running and get young people back into education in this ‘new normal’ and help Northern Ireland recover safely and sustainably”, David concluded.
For more information on safe travel on other dedicated school transport services visit the EA’s website:
Safeguarding pupils on their Journey:
What Translink are doing:
Operating extra school services and more "school only" services, to provide increased capacity as required;
Where possible, working with schools to arrange pick-ups at schools to reduce volume of pupils at bus stations;
Providing our staff with appropriate PPE that helps to keep them and pupils, as safe as possible;
Extra staff in stations where required, to assist with travel connections and social distancing;
Enhanced vehicle deep cleaning and sanitation - using long-lasting anti-viral disinfectant products;
Mobile cleaning teams travelling on board sanitising common touch areas;
Key seats cordoned off on dedicated school buses;
Hand sanitiser units available at all stations;
Protective screens in stations and on the bus drivers cab.
These actions will ensure we maintain high safety standards on board and in stations when social distancing becomes more challenging as pupils return to schools. Pupils on dedicated school transport should seek to socially distance if it is possible to do so, however as per the Department for Education guidance, social distancing on public transport will not apply on dedicated school transport in the new school year.
Help us help you:
We are actively calling on everyone to practice the wider safety and travel advice including:
Good hand hygiene – consider carrying your own hand sanitiser;
Using pre-paid / contactless payments where pupils are not entitled to a free travel pass;
Travel off peak where schools can facilitate this and leave extra time for your journey;
Family groups should sit together or sit with members of your school class, where possible;
Avoid consuming food and drink on public transport, where possible;
Consider walking and cycling options if appropriate;
Please do not travel if you are experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19 symptoms or your household has been advised to isolate.
Wait for passengers to get off first before you board and if you need to queue, please remember to keep your distance.
Please behave responsibly when travelling, misbehaviour can endanger others as well as yourself and will be reported to your school and Education Authority.
Use of Face Coverings:
Pupils over 13 will be required to wear a face covering if travelling on scheduled public transport services and in bus and train stations unless you are exempt;
We also strongly encourage wearing a face covering if travelling on dedicated school bus services;
Wearing a face covering is for everyone’s protection as it helps everyone to travel safely together.