Coronavirus (COVID-19) Service Updates


Friday 16th July 2021

With the easing of the Government COVID restrictions on 19th July 2021 in England, Stephensons are pleased to announce the following changes:

  • With the transmission rate still being very high, we strongly encourage all passengers to continue to wear a face-covering on our services, unless you are exempt. Our drivers have a limited supply of free masks you can use, these are subject to availability.
  • Please continue to sanitise/wash your hands before boarding.
  • Continue to pay using contactless if possible or by using our MyTrip App.
  • Our bus windows will remain open to ensure fresh air is circulating.
  • All seats will be available to use.
  • Services that were temporarily designated for school students only, will be once more open to the general public.

To keep you safe, we will continue to regularly sanitise our fleet – this includes all surfaces such as grab rails, luggage areas, windows, cash trays, ticket machine housings, stairways, entrance doors and anywhere that passengers may come into contact with. This will ensure we are doing our very best to prevent the transmission of the virus.

If you are experiencing ANY symptoms of Covid-19 you should call NHS Direct and get tested. You should self-isolate as directed by the NHS. If you are contacted by NHS Track & Trace you MUST comply with their instructions. This is the only way we will defeat the virus. Please do not use public transport if you have Covid 19, have symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test.


Friday 14th May 2021 

Following the latest guidance from the Government and easing Covid-19 restrictions, Stephensons are pleased to announce that we will be changing the passenger seating limitations on our buses.

From Monday 17th May 2021, all forward and side facing seats will be available for use on our buses. Rearward-facing seats will remain out of use.

Any seats that are out of use will be clearly marked.

The easing of restrictions now means that on busy buses, you may sit next to other members of the public. Where capacity allows, you should still aim to keep at least a metre away from other customers where possible, unless they are in your bubble or family group.

All other Covid-19 restrictions will remain in place: –

  • Please wear your mask for your entire journey, unless you are exempt.
  • Sanitise your hands regularly.
  • Pay using contactless if possible, or on your mobile in advance via the myTrip app.
  • The bus windows must remain open to ensure fresh air constantly circulates.
  • Touch as few surfaces as possible while you are on the bus.
  • As you board and exit the bus, please do not gather around the driver, and maintain distance wherever possible.

We will continue to run our enhanced cleaning routine on every single vehicle, every single day, so you can be sure our buses are as Covid safe as possible.


From Monday 8th March 2021

Stephensons are pleased to announce that we will be returning to a full pre-covid service across all our routes.

From 11th January 2021 to 6th March 2021 

Due to the current national lockdown, from Monday 11th January 2021 until 6th March 2021, Stephensons will be running a Saturday service on all of our routes except the following, which will run to their normal Monday to Friday schedule.

5/6 – Bishops Stortford
6A – Leigh on Sea
9 – Walton
9/9A – Great Saling
12 – Wickford
16 – Chelmsford
17 – Leigh on Sea
34 – Saffron Walden
39 – Witham
61 – Southend
71C – Brentwood
101 – Brightlingsea
105/107 – Colchester
265 – Grays
301 – Bishops Stortford
384/385 – Stowmarket
590 – Haverhill
Breeze 1/2 – Bury St Edmunds

We have  an enhanced Saturday timetable on the following routes

14/15 – Haverhill
16 – Newmarket
38 – Witham
90 – Maldon


Details of all our timetables, including the enhanced routes above, can be found here 


Department for Transport 2nd December 2020 – Updated guidance regarding face coverings on dedicated school transport.

The updated guidance from the DfT is now very clear in its wording, and it states that face coverings must be worn by all students, except those with a valid exemption. Face coverings are an important measure in reducing the transmission of coronavirus, particularly in enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Stephensons require all students to put on their masks when they board the bus, and keep them on for the entire journey.

Any changes to services will be posted on our website.

Generally, there is capacity on most of our services, although the busiest period tends to be 0830-1030.

We have arranged ‘duplicate’ vehicles on certain local bus services with busy journeys at peak times. Generally, schoolchildren will be asked to use the duplicate vehicle, which will follow the service bus. This will in most cases be a coach, and will carry the route number with an ‘S’ suffix (so for example, a duplicate on route 81 will display 81S). Students should show their pass to the driver or pay a fare in the usual way.

We have also organised ‘standby’ vehicles at key points across our network, to deal quickly with any overloading problems that arise and allowing us to maintain social distancing.

The situation in relation to COVID-19 is fast-moving, and may result in further timetable changes. As soon as these are confirmed, we will communicate the information to our customers here.

Please familiarise yourselves with the COVID-19 safety guidance when travelling by bus.

We continue to work hard to provide services that meet the needs of our customers, and especially key workers, throughout these very difficult times. We have some colleagues self-isolating or shielding, and so dealing with emails and phone calls is a challenge. This website will be updated regularly, so please check back frequently to keep updated on service amendments.

Keeping our colleagues and customers safe during Covid-19

We have introduced enhanced cleaning procedures throughout our operations. All touchpoints in our buses are sanitised regularly, this includes grab rails, luggage areas, windows, cash trays, ticket machine housings, entrance doors and any other areas which passengers may touch, in order to help prevent the transmission of the virus. In addition, we use a ‘fogging’ system on our bus interiors which sprays all surfaces with an anti-bacterial coating. We are encouraging our colleagues to wash their hands at regular intervals, and they are also issued with gloves, masks and hand sanitiser for their personal use. Buses circulate air every time they come to a bus stop and most of our buses also have windows that can be opened at any time.

Who may and may not travel?

Following recent Government advice, You must avoid travelling within the UK or internationally and stay at home, unless they are travelling for work, education or for other legally permitted exemptions. A full list of exemptions can be found in the  guidance pages.

The police will be able to take action against anyone who breaks the rules and leaves home without a reasonable excuse, including issuing fixed penalty notices of £200 for the first offence, up to a maximum of £6,400.

Anyone with a legally permitted reason to travel should continue to follow the existing Safer Transport guidance reminding them how to travel safely e.g. by wearing a face covering unless exempt, washing/ sanitising their hands regularly, social distancing where possible and planning ahead.

We request if you feel unwell in any way that you do not travel on any off our services.

If you have coronavirus-like symptoms, stay at home and call 111 if you need help.

Reduced capacity on vehicles

The seating capacity of our buses has temporarily been reduced to the range displayed on the vehicle*. No standing is allowed. The exact capacity will vary depending on those passengers who can sit closer together from the same household, and our drivers have been asked to use their discretion. This is in order to help customers to maintain effective social distancing when traveling, and to make our services COVID-19 secure for all who need to use them. This may mean in some cases that your driver may ask you not to board, and to wait for the next bus. If your bus displays “Bus Full” please await the next bus. Drivers are asked to report such instances and if there are frequent examples, we will provide extra capacity. Please support our colleagues by remembering to practice social distancing both whilst waiting at the bus stop and onboard- keep your distance from those who don’t live with you and use common sense, and remember it is compulsory to wear a face covering (with certain exemptions).

We also advise that you try to travel before the last service of the day, to avoid the risk of the last bus being full. Should this be the case you will have to arrange your own transport.

*Note that capacity on dedicated school buses remains as normal, saying that standing is not permitted, and any facing seats and those immediately adjacent to the driver are out of use.

Temporary Perspex screens

Temporary Perspex screens have been added to the cab area all vehicles. These reduce the chance of virus transmission between customers and colleagues, and are cleaned nightly with a chemical that should prevent the virus settling on the screen for up to 72 hours.

Cordoned off seats

We have cordoned off those seats closest to the driver, and any seats which face each other less than 2m apart, to aid social distancing. Please help keep everyone safe by not sitting in them.

Bus travel guidelines

We have put up both physical and digital signage to remind customers of social distancing etiquette and safety when traveling by bus during the pandemic. Unless you are traveling with members of the same household, please sit next to a window, with an empty seat next to you (and where possible, in front of and behind you). Do not stand.

Once you’ve purchased your ticket or showed your pass, please move quickly to a seat and sit down. When alighting, please do not stand on or near the platform area adjacent to the driver.

Please keep bus windows open where possible to ensure fresh air circulation.

Contactless up to £45

Many customers have asked if we still accept cash bus fares during this time and we can confirm that we do, however we actively encourage you to use contactless or mobile payments (up to £45) where possible.

Hand sanitisers, protective gloves and face coverings.

We do not provide hand sanitiser on board our buses. We recommend that customers carry their own and use it prior to boarding and upon alighting from buses, or wear gloves if they prefer. NOTE that it is compulsory to wear a face covering when using public transport and this includes our bus services (there are certain, limited exceptions).

If you are exempt for wearing a face covering, you may choose to use a card or badge to avoid being challenged by our drivers. Such badges are produced by the Government. There is however, no legal requirement to do so.  Click here for templates.

Driving colleagues have been issued with masks, hand sanitiser and protective gloves to help them stay clean, and disinfectant wipes to clean the cab area whenever taking over a vehicle from a colleague.

Assistance for Disabled Travellers

Our drivers will still assist unaccompanied wheelchair users on and off the bus where required, though will practice social distancing wherever possible. Please wear a face covering, and remember that our colleagues are limited to providing basic assistance in the current circumstances.

General Information

The health and safety of our customers and colleagues is our number one priority.

We are following the latest advice from Public Health England, the National Health Service, the World Health Organisation and transport industry bodies.

As the situation evolves, we will continue to engage with government, follow the guidance from public health bodies, and provide advice and updates to you on our services.


For more information, please go to the NHS website:


Government advice Website

Information last updated 6th November 2020.