Tring coach company makes changes on board to welcome passengers back safely
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A coach company in Tring is looking forward to welcoming passengers back this weekend, although there will be some changes.
Masons Minibus and Coach Hire Ltd will be taking people on a trip on Sunday, the first trip since the country went into lockdown in March.
The company's priority is the safety of their passengers and staff and have made a number of changes on board and the way they operate to ensure it is a safe environment.
The family business was founded by Andy and Gill Mason in 1988, his sons James and Matt and James' wife Candice are all involved in the running of the company.
Candice said: "We have a trip on Sunday to Hunstanton and we have 20 people booked on we are really excited to get our wheels moving again.
"Interestingly, some of the trips that I booked that I thought would be popular because of how safe they are have not been as popular as the beach trips.
"We have planned a small programme of trips over the coming months to ease out of lockdown. The bookings have been a mixture of, some people ready to travel, some not at all.
"To comply with current social distancing guidelines we can only take 26 passengers our with us, so at this stage all we’re doing is covering costs and building up confidence with our customers reminding them that we are still operating and very much intend for the business to survive this troubling time.
"We know schools go back in September, and the guidance for us is still being updated, we offer dedicated home to school transport where the same group of pupils travel to and from school."
There will be a number of new health and safety measures implemented to keep everyone safe, including social distancing and hand sanitisers.
Candice said: "As you wait to board the coach at the beginning and end of the day, you will be asked to maintain social distancing.
"Coaches will be loaded from the back first, and a sign with your name will be placed onto each seat.
"Each coach is fitted with hand sanitisers and you will be asked to use those as you board and disembark.
"Sadly, we will not be able to operate with a courier on board, and our hot drinks and refreshment service will cease during this time.
"We will continue to monitor this during the easing of lockdown. We are keen to re-establish this when the time is right we know this is a popular service onboard our days out.
"After each movement the coaches will undergo a deep clean of touch points, and we have a disinfectant fogging machine.
The toilets on board the coach will be open during transportation for you to use should you need and again safety features have been put in place to minimise risks.
Candice added: "We are looking forward to welcoming our passengers back as we slowly ease out of lockdown and we ask that everyone follows the guidelines for their own safety and the safety of other passengers and our staff.
"The safety of our customers is very important to us which is why we have invested in these measures and our staff have undergone appropriate training.
"We still need local support and awareness raising the coach industry is still not recognised as part of the leisure sector which is a huge frustration on our part and we are missing out on the governments empathetic approach to this sector.
"We are lucky that our MP (Greg Smith) has been really supportive and says he will back us with whatever we need, we would like to thank him for all his support."
Masons has been working closely with the Confederation of Passenger Transport and been in the privileged position of taking part in meetings with ministers in a bid for the Government to provide support for the coach industry during the coronavirus pandemic.
Candice said: "We have been involved a lot in trying to raise awareness of this, unfortunately the operators who only do trips or holidays have been hardest hit.
"There is no support, we wanted the Government to recognise coach companies as part of the leisure industry, but we have had no luck.
"The problem we are also having is that we are ready to get back on the roads for day trips, some of our customers are, but a lot of places in the tourism industry are not taking group bookings.
"The message is unclear, the Government is saying go back to work and re-start your businesses. The government are actively promoting their campaign to ‘enjoy summer safely’ however when we have been trying to make bookings to leisure sites and places we want to visit they are saying they are not taking bookings for group travel.
"It's very frustrating for us."