A BUS driver has called on the government to back Worcestershire’s bus service so it does not vanish after the coronavirus crisis.

Jason Spencer, a furloughed bus driver for Worcester-based Astons Coaches, has written to his MP Nigel Huddleston calling for ‘immediate action’ to support the UK travel industry.

The 31-year-old driver from Droitwich says all but 16 (of 40) drivers have been furloughed because of the pandemic which has ‘decimated’ the travel industry.

In the letter he told his MP he was ‘proud’ to work for Astons but that the pandemic left him ‘increasingly concerned about the future of the UK travel sector’.

He and other drivers wrote: “Without additional help for the travel industry, many travel companies across the UK are at risk of going bankrupt, which will not only result in thousands of staff like myself being made redundant, but also thousands of customers losing money and suffering distress.”

The letter calls for employment support including changes to the coronavirus job retention scheme and the accessibility of government-backed loans. The driver, who had been working for 11 months on the 19/21 circular routes in Droitwich, said: “We don’t want the industry to go. How many people aren’t going to be able to get to the shops or will have to pay extra for a cab? We must make sure we don’t vanish – we’re still needed and we’re still here.

“The airlines – they’re talking about bailouts and the railways but there is no mention of the buses or the coaches. We feel we have been forgotten. Don’t forget us.”

First Buses, Worcester has confirmed that only around 10 per cent of their usual passenger numbers are still using their services.

Martin Rowley of Worcester-based Commandery Coaches said: “All sectors of the travel industry are suffering greatly from airlines to ferries, trains to buses and coaches.

"The problem is the same for all of us - no passengers due to restrictions and no appetite for travel for the foreseeable future, at least until a vaccine is found and confidence returns.

“Those of us who work within the touring and private hire sectors are suffering the worst. Cancellations started as early as March 10 and now our whole season through to September / October has been decimated.”