BUS SERVICES across the borough will be reduced as the coronavirus crisis, with some routes axed on a temporary basis.
Reading Buses says that a fall in customer numbers is the cause of the reductions, with most services switching to a Saturday timetable from Monday.
From tomorrow (Wednesday, March 18), the Claret 21a buses will cease due to the Univeristy of Reading ending face-to-face lectures.
The Claret 21 route, which runs up to 15 minutes daily, will continue.
Most school day-only journeys will continue to run while schools stay open, but will be removed should schools be closed.
Notable variations to help those still commuting are: jet black 1 will have a Saturday timetable, but with buses adjusted to run into Arlington Business Park; greenwave will run a Saturday service with an extra 61r service that runs every 30 minutes between Central Reading and Mereoak Park and Ride via Reading International Business Park, Lime Square and Brook Drive.
And there will be changes to the overnight routes, which will run at a reduced rate: operating to the Monday to Thursday timetable; journeys after midnight that usually run only on Friday and Saturday nights will be cancelled.
Reading Buses will add the amended timetables to its online services and electronic boards at bus stops, but there may be some disruption as the amended schedule is programmed in.
Robert Williams, Reading Buses chief executive, said: “We are currently facing a situation that no one could have predicted. We are having to reduce our service level to balance low customer numbers and available resources.
“With the government advising more people to stay at home and avoid public gatherings, the number of people travelling on our services has fallen dramatically and we expect that to continue this week.
“We have, therefore, made the decision to switch to a Saturday service from next Monday to compensate for this. We will still be running buses around the town and beyond for those who can still travel.
“Obviously, the safety of our employees and customers are of vital importance to us. As well as reiterating Public Health England’s best practice guidance on hand-washing and hygiene to all our employees, we already have extensive cleaning programmes in place for all of our buses each evening, now supplemented with further cleaning to ensure all potential hard-surface contact areas, including bells and hand-poles, are regularly sanitised.
“Fortunately, we already have a fantastic team of cleaners who maintain all our vehicles to high standards every day.”
And Mr Williams said that the company has full contingency plans in place.
“We are already planning for which members of which teams can follow government advice and work from home and which workers need to be physically on site,” he explained.
“Obviously, our drivers, engineers and cleaners cannot work from home so we will be monitoring their health and wellbeing during this critical time. It is important that we all stay calm and keep things moving where we can.
“We will, of course, continue to monitor both the number of customers travelling on the buses and the advice of the government.”