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See how full your next bus is - and even where to sit - thanks to new technology

PUBLISHED: 12:52 03 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:52 03 June 2020

A First Eastern Counties bus in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A First Eastern Counties bus in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Bus passengers will be able to see how full their next bus is and even where to sit thanks to new live tracking technology.

Giles Fearnley, managing director of Firstgroups UK bus division. Steve AdamsGiles Fearnley, managing director of Firstgroups UK bus division. Steve Adams

First Eastern Counties is using capacity tracking via the First Bus app so people can monitor how busy their next bus is.

To adhere to social distancing rules buses are limited to running at 25pc capacity.

The bus company has doubled the number of its buses across Norfolk and Suffolk since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased on June 1.

Giles Fearnley, managing director of FirstGroup’s UK bus division, said: “We are proud to have been able to fast-track this technology to ensure safe, informed travel during these difficult times. Our buses provide an essential service for our customers and we are doing all we can to support them.”

A teenager suffered serious injuries in a collision involving a bus and a cyclist near a post office on High Street, Kessingland. Picture: Matthew NixonA teenager suffered serious injuries in a collision involving a bus and a cyclist near a post office on High Street, Kessingland. Picture: Matthew Nixon

MORE: Coronavirus in Norfolk: How lockdown has affected you

First Bus, which operates in 17 areas across the UK, is the first major bus group to roll out live capacity tracking and it is hoped it will reduce uncertainty for customers and help them to make informed decisions about their journeys.

It will work by showing customers a bus icon on a map indicating where they are at that moment and the available seats of each vehicle in the nearby area.

The technology was made possible through a new passenger counting system which started at the end of May.

Data from this feeds into the First Bus app in real time.

As well as the app update, seats on each bus are marked showing where customers should sit to encourage social distancing.

First Eastern Counties is also encouraging cashless payments and the use of the First Bus app to buy mTickets on mobile phones to reduce the need for contact between customers and drivers.

David Jordan, marketing manager for First Eastern Counties Buses, said the majority of customers using the buses were paying with cashless methods through the mobile phone app or contactless technology.

As well as updating its operating times, First Eastern Counties Buses has also banned people standing on buses.

Buses will also display capacity signs, and if a bus has reached its reduced capacity will not stop until someone needs to get off.

Visit www.firstgroup.com/norfolk-suffolk/news-and-service-updates/coronavirus-covid19-service-information for updates on all routes.

For the latest COVID-19 news, visit the Norfolk Coronavirus Updates Facebook page.

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