Prestonians warned to plan journeys to avoid road choas ahead of schools reopening

Posted on - 28th August, 2020 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News, Roads, Schools, Transport
Fishergate was busy with traffic following the collision Pic: Ryan Gillett
Roads are expected to busier as school’s return next week. Pic: Ryan Gillett

Lancashire County Council is urging people in Preston to plan their journeys to help minimise congestion when schools go back next week.

Roads are expected to be at their busiest since before the coronavirus lockdown as most pupils return to the classroom for the first time since March.

Read more: Preston pupils over 11 should wear face coverings due to extra local lockdown measures

With some schools expected to introduce special access arrangements to help social distancing and keep year-group ‘bubbles’ apart, parents are being asked not to add to congestion outside schools while everyone gets used to the new systems in place.

It is estimated that around half of pupils live within two miles of their school and, wherever possible, families are being asked to arrange for pupils to walk or cycle.

The current Switch to Cycling campaign is looking to build on an increase in people cycling during lockdown with lots of helpful information and advice for anyone thinking of cycling.

School student wearing facemask in classroom. Pic: Alexandra_Koch
Pupils over 11 are asked to wear face masks on public transport. Pic: Alexandra_Koch

The county council’s highways and transport teams will be closely monitoring the situation on the roads in order to respond as quickly as possible to any local issues.

Public buses cannot carry the same number of passengers they usually would due to social distancing measures, and everyone is being asked to try and avoid travelling on public buses at peak times, particularly if they could walk or cycle instead.r

The council is working with transport operators to put on extra dedicated school bus services.

Read more: Preston train manager part of first all LGBTQ+ crew as Pride train launches

In some areas these will duplicate existing dedicated school buses to help social distancing where these services are usually very busy. However on some routes where a lot of pupils usually rely on public buses, more services are being operated, including some new dedicated school services, to add to capacity and try to ensure there are enough seats for everyone. People are asked to check with local operators for details.

County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We can expect the roads to be much busier next week than we‚Äôve been used to in recent months, however we can all do our bit to help things run as smoothly as possible.

“If you can avoid travelling at rush-hour please do, and if you need to travel please leave extra time for your journey.

See the latest traffic updates in your area below

“If the continued restrictions on public transport lead to more journeys being made by car there could well be localised congestion problems, and I’d ask people to consider alternatives, particularly cycling for short journeys.”

Pupils are asked to bring their own hand sanitiser, and use it on boarding and after getting off the bus. Schools have been advised to put in place safe boarding procedures and to consider seating and grouping arrangements on buses to minimise social contact.

Pupils who pay their bus fare in cash are asked to have the right coins to minimise the need to handle change.

Read more: Transport services for vulnerable adults disrupted as children return to school in September

County Councillor Iddon said: “Travel to schools is a particular issue, and while it’s difficult to predict how people may have changed their habits due to the pandemic, we are working with schools and transport operators to identify any potential issues and respond accordingly.

“There will be extra buses from day one on some routes we predict to be particularly busy, and we are closely monitoring the situation to respond in case problems emerge in other areas.

“I would ask everyone to recognise that the changes that will take place as term starts will inevitably throw up some local problems and we will do our best to try to resolve these as quickly as possible, but please bear with us in the meantime.

Read more: Council plans to invest £12.8 million to aid post-COVID-19 economic recovery

“It will help if people can plan their journeys, and be patient while everyone gets used to new routines, and we look to provide solutions to any problems.

“The schools going back will be a big step towards normality, but we all need to remember that the coronavirus is still with us, and we all need to take responsibility to prevent its spread by wearing face coverings where necessary and practicing good hygiene at all times.”

Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines

How do you feel about sending your children back to school? Tell us in the comments below.

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