Traveling by bus is not only super convenient and fun, but it is also very safe. Expat Club only travels with the most reliable bus companies in Belgium. And each of them only drives with top-notch modern material from the best brands on the market, such as VanHool, Setra, MAN and Volvo. The safety features on these vehicles, which costs anywhere between a nice apartment and an entire penthouse, are multifold. From safety belts on every seat to automatic breaking systems, and from a maximum speed (100km/h) to daytime running lights, back-up cameras, additional side mirrors and fire suppression system.
Needless to say the corona-crisis impacted these bus constructors tremendously. Gaining confidence from their clients is of the utmost importance, including:
– direct clients (the bus rental companies)
– indirect clients (public bus companies and tour operators like Expat Club)
– actual users (travelers like yourself)
Each of the bus companies began immediately in Spring 2020 by finding innovative solutions to travel as safely as possible under the new corona conditions. This articles gives you more information about those specific solutions, and why traveling by bus is as safe as traveling by airplane, but certainly safer than traveling by public bus. The following sum up the most important measures taken by both the bus constructors and the bus companies, and involve both material measures and process measures.
Measure 1 – Screens between rows
One of the most visible measures take are the transparent screens or curtains between the bus rows. Also, the driver and guide are separated more from the passengers with the same type of screens.
Measure 2 – Additional cleaning
Obviously a thorough cleaning of the bus after every single tour is of paramount importance. But also during the trip the driver ensures the bus is extra cleaned at points often touched by passengers, such as handles and railings.
Measure 3 – Disinfection gel
At both doors you can find a pump with alcoholic disinfection gel. Upon boarding the bus you can use this gel to disinfect your hands.
Measure 4 – Luggage handling
For longer trips that require you to take luggage with you, the driver will first put two cones on the road or pavement to indicate his designated working area. He will be the only person that is allowed to put bags and suitcases in the luggage compartment and to take them out again. This allows for keeping social distance.
Measure 5 – Socially distance
While waiting for the bus, getting on the bus and while being on the trip in general, 1,5 meters of social distance should be respected. This is not any different from what happens in daily life anyway, but it’s good to mention that also during our bus trips we keep this in mind.
Measure 6 – Tape over seats
To limit the number of chairs, drivers can beforehand make clear that some seats should not be occupied. He can simply put a special tape or sticker on or over the seat so it becomes clear that this particular seat should remain empty.
Measure 7 – Seating arrangements
At and from the moment of publishing, the rules may have changed already, but of course passengers will be maximally spread over the bus. If you travel alone and there are seats available, you will be asked to take 2 seats alone. Couples and families are of course required to sit together. Expat Club will see to the boarding procedures more than on earlier trips.
Measure 8 – Wearing masks
Depending on the country we visit, rules around masks may be different. Some countries, like Belgium, require masks even outside, whereas inside the bus some countries require it at all times, even with just a few people in the bus, and other countries require it only if no social distance can be taken sideways or diagonally but not vertically through the bus (i.e. lengthwise).
Measure 9 – Air circulation
Virtually all buses, but certainly all the ones that Expat Club takes along on its trips, have a simple yet ingenious air-flow system that resemble that of airliners. Simply said, air flows in from above and is sucked away from below. This leads to a constant downward flow of air. Outgoing air is either recycled or refreshed, depending on the setting, but generally the full volume of air inside a bus is renewed every 2 to 4 minutes. Also that rate equals that of an airliner.
Measure 10 – Improved HVAC software
The Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems are not just hardware, but also software. Whereas very old buses and cars simply had levers with which you can open and close the airflow from outside, modern vehicles air flow is arranged by software. New updates ensure that more fresh outside air comes into the bus. Rest assured that the temperature will still remain comfortable, whatever the outside temperature.
Measure 10 – Air treatment filters
Completely new is that newer buses are now standard equipped or upgraded with special HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air). Both fresh and recirculated air flow is forced through fine mesh filters that trap small and super small particles such as pollen, dust mites, tobacco smoke, but also viruses, including these filters and take out many smaller particulars, including the corona virus.
Measure 11 – Additional air treatment
Our most used bus comes from world-renowned VanHool constructor. Already last year VanHool introduced the Clean Air Purifying System (CAPS), that is fully focused on recirculated air treatment that contains aerosols with small particles including viruses. “Each CAPS filter element uses three different technologies, all aimed at destroying bacteria and viruses that may be present in the air to be recycled. An electrostatic filter captures dust particles, bacteria and virus particles and destroys these using a high electrical voltage (ionisation). The air is then sterilised using a UV-C lamp. Viruses and bacteria are deactivated. At the same time, photocatalysis takes place. This is a chemical process whereby viruses and bacteria are dissolved due to the action of absorption of UV-C light. Van Hool CAPS does not require any specific maintenance. The filter elements only need to be replaced after 8,000 hours and the equivalent of 500,000 km.” (source: VanHool). Other constructors have or are working on similar solutions, and since we only use the best companies and best buses, you can rest assured you will be driving in the best.