Bus Vannin says it ‘remains committed to the safety of its passengers and staff’ as up to half of Manx bus drivers are believed to be isolating following an outbreak of Covid-19 amongst staff.
The statement from Bus Vannin contradicts claims made by Unite the Union and several drivers as to how the gov owned company has been protecting its workers from the virus. Several bus drivers have told Gef that up to 50% of those who are in isolation have tested positive for Covid.
Unite, which represents many of the drivers, took to social media this weekend to criticise Bus Vannin for its ‘deafening’ silence since concerns were first raised last week. The union has called for a full review to be undertaken into the precautions taken to protect drivers both on and off the buses. The union says around 40 of its members are affected.
Several drivers have criticised the actions of Bus Vannin, saying the staff canteen in Douglas, where drivers from depots around the island have their breaks, had not been deep cleaned for some time.
A spokesman for the gov owned company said: ‘A number of measures are in place so that we can continue to provide a bus service for essential travel. Since the start of the latest lockdown there has been an enhanced cleaning regime so that both buses and staff working areas are as safe as they can be.
‘Unfortunately since March 5, a small number of bus drivers have tested positive for Covid-19. In addition, other drivers are shielding or self-isolating based on advice from 111. We will continue to work with our staff and passengers to provide the best service we can throughout the lockdown.’
The spokesman said that drivers are provided with ‘hand sanitiser, disposable gloves, masks and packs of cleaning wipes, of which there have always been adequate stocks’.
All buses are currently fitted with temporary screens to separate the driver from the passengers and Bus Vannin says the driver’s cab ‘has a separate air supply to that supplying the passenger saloon’.
The spokesman added: ‘Drivers now keep the same bus for the whole daily duty- whilst this does mean that passengers are now asked to change bus on through journeys it does reduce the risk of transmission between staff even further. As with all Department of Infrastructure workplaces, Covid safety rules have been implemented and enforced. Passengers are asked to only use the service if it is an essential journey, wear a mask at all times, sit apart from those who are not members of their household and to pay with either a Go Card or using contactless payments.’