Walsall councillor verbally abused on bus by Covid rule breakers

A Walsall councillor was verbally abused when she challenged fellow bus passengers about not observing Covid rules.

Walsall Bus Station
Walsall Bus Station

Councillor Vera Waters says she has witnessed many people not wearing masks, trying to sit on seats marked out of use, congregating on lower decks when upper decks are empty and sitting next to people they don’t know.

She is now urging passengers to be responsible when travelling to help stop the spread of the virus.

Councillor Waters, a regular public transport user, was on the 529 National Express West Midlands service from Walsall to Wolverhampton on Tuesday when the latest incident occurred.

She said people refused to go to upstairs on the double decker but when challenged by her and the driver, they were both met with abuse.

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Councillor Waters said: “I use public transport six days a week and have witnessed many incidents, also others have reported issues to me.

“On Tuesday, I did challenge and got verbal abuse myself – I challenge and get it most mornings. The driver had told them to go upstairs and those who were standing wouldn’t.

“We need to think about our actions and remember we are doing this to protect others, mostly our vulnerable people. We are not in normal times and must have the consideration for others.

Wait

“If a bus you are looking to travel on is nearly full to capacity downstairs and you are able to go upstairs do so, leave downstairs seats for those who aren’t able to climb the stairs.

“If a single decker bus looks full wait for another one – it may make you a little later but you will be helping to prevent the spread of the virus and saving lives.”

A spokeswoman for National Express said inspectors and Safer Travel teams are monitoring compliance and reminding people of the rules.

She said: “(We are) keeping records of how many customers are not wearing face coverings.

“The data shows that consistently across the whole network, more than 90 per cent of our customers are complying.

“We have trained our bus drivers to remind customers of the new rules, but they are also aware that customers may have perfectly valid reasons for not wearing a face covering, and that these are not always obvious. Therefore drivers are exercising their discretion.

“So far, Safer Travel teams have removed over 700 people from our buses because they weren’t wearing a face covering and didn’t have a valid exemption.

“National Express West Midlands staff have the right to work without fear of assault or intimidation. We will prosecute anybody who does not respect this right.

“All 1,600 of our vehicles have up to 12 CCTV cameras that give us crystal-clear video footage."

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