Children across Greater Manchester will be able to take advantage of thousands of extra bus seats to support their safe return to schools.
The combined authority has secured more than £2m from the government to increase capacity on the commercial bus network at peak times from Monday September 7.
Social distancing restrictions still apply on commercially-run services, which are used by around 90 per cent of the city-region’s schoolchildren.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has struck a deal with operators to run around 300 additional bus journeys every weekday.
Duplicate buses that will be used exclusively by school and college students will have their route numbers marked with an ‘S’ to show they are school services.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham hopes the agreement, which will apply initially for the first autumn half-term only, will give ‘further peace of mind’ to pupils and their families.
“We’re committed to making sure children can return to school as safely as possible,” he said.
“While we’d still encourage pupils to travel on foot or by bike to school where they can, especially for shorter journeys, we know that isn’t an option for everyone.
“However, I must stress again that we need everyone to play their part by following safety rules and thinking about how and when they travel.
“These simple measures can have a big impact.”
The expanded services are being introduced on bus routes where school children make up most of the passenger numbers, with seats expected to be in high demand.
Around 150 duplicate journeys will run in the morning and a further 150 in the afternoon in a bid to free up capacity on the commercial network for other passengers.
Capacity levels will be constantly monitored by TfGM and buses will be reallocated if necessary.
Pupils will still need to follow safe travel guidance while using public transport, such as wearing face coverings, socially distancing, handwashing and using contactless payments where possible.
Yellow school buses will also be running as normal school buses without a pass system, so any student can use them.
For more information on duplicate school bus services, visit TfGM’s website.