Published: 09:11, 26 March 2020
| Updated: 09:42, 26 March 2020
A reduced bus timetable will be introduced across Kent in a matter of days as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stagecoach South East has dropped a number of its services in response to government restrictions on non-essential travel.
But critical routes will remain to help keep key workers on the move.
It follows discussions between Stagecoach, Kent County Council, East Sussex County Council and the NHS.
The revised timetables will go live from Monday, March 30 and will operate until further notice.
Joel Mitchell, managing director of Stagecoach South East said: “We continue to play a crucial role in ensuring that key sector employees, such as healthcare staff, can get to work.
“We would urge everyone to put these critical workers first, follow the latest government rules on staying at home and avoiding non-essential travel, and help to save lives.”
The bus operator will keep its services under close review and says it’s ready to work with key sector organisations and the local authorities to discuss further amendments in the weeks ahead.
Mr Mitchell added: “We need to ensure that we’re directing our resources to where they’re most needed.
"We’re working quickly outside of our normal planning cycles and we're doing our best to get things right in unprecedented circumstances.
“We’ve tried hard with this timetable change to ensure that we continue to maintain critical routes.
"But if our customers feel we haven’t got things quite right, then we’d really like to receive."
The company is doing all it can to keep its customers and staff safe with enhanced cleaning regimes.
This includes rigorous cleaning of the main customer touch-points, such as hand poles and grab rails.
Contactless payments are being encouraged wherever possible and social distancing guidelines are being displayed on the buses.
In partnership with local authorities, Stagecoach South East is also accepting the use of free concessionary travel passes before the normal 9.30am threshold to allow older people to access designated supermarket hours.
Separately, the industry is continuing to engage with government on the additional support measures to help protect them long term.
"We continue to play a crucial role in ensuring that key sector employees, such as healthcare staff, can get to work."
Joel Mitchell said: “We’re continuing to engage with government on the additional support measures urgently needed to help keep vital public transport links running at this time, and also to protect them for the long term.
“I’m extremely proud of the way our team in the South East is pulling together to ensure that we can continue to deliver our services.
"They are key workers too and I would like to thank them for their continued support and resilience in these challenging times.”
The bus operator is urging people who need to travel to check their website before using the bus.
A central web page has been created with all the latest information.
Customers can also stay up to date on Twitter @StagecoachSE.
More by this authorEleanor Perkins