A BUS company is increasing the frequency of its services to try and ramp up capacity so people can use the public transport while maintaining social distancing.

It is anticipated there will be a rise in demand from Monday, with more people being told to go back to work if they cannot work from home.

A number of changes are being made to bus stops in Darlington town centre and to bus timetables.

Meanwhile, social distancing measures onboard buses means not all of the seats can be used.

Arriva bus drivers have been told that if passengers are using all available seats, they must display a 'bus full' sign and will only stop for people if they wish to get off the vehicle.

Darlington Borough Council says it has worked in partnership with service operators to ensure that passengers who need to travel can do so confidently and safely in the coming weeks.

In the town centre, additional temporary bus stops have been introduced, and changes have been made to where a number of services will drop off and pick up passengers to try and avoid groups of people gathering, as well as pinch points in narrow areas such as Prebend Row.

Social distancing guidance will also be introduced at bus stops, with floor markers to highlight priority waiting and boarding for disabled bus users, and queuing guidance to ensure that passengers leave two metres between themselves and other passengers when getting on and off the bus.

Changes will be communicated via signage on the affected bus stops and Arriva's town centre manager will be on hand to help those having difficulties.

Hand sanitiser will be made available near to bus stops, in the coming weeks, to allow people to sanitise their hands before and after using the bus.

Councillor Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services, said: “We’ve looked at every aspect of bus travel in Darlington and we’ve worked with service operators to put a number of measures in place to help passengers travel with confidence.

“We are aware that changes to services and bus stops cause difficulty for some, particularly visually impaired passengers, but we’ll be doing everything we can to make these changes as smooth as possible.

“This is another step in reopening our town centre, supporting businesses and welcoming people back to Darlington.”

Full details of the revised timetables will be available on the Connect Tees Valley website and from Arriva direct.