Cook's Buses drivers Travel Tuaputa and Don Inatea ensure passengers use hand sanitiser before boarding. 200400612/20040613.
The disappearance of the country’s tourists has forced Cook’s Buses to drastically reduced their schedule, cancelling their anti-clockwise service and Sunday run.
But the company says passengers can be confident in their diligent adherence to health precautions.
“The buses now operate on 4 hour shifts, after which they are cleaned, disinfected and each of the seats are steam-cleaned,” said general manager Danny Cook.
Extra staff are on hand with hand sanitisers for passengers to clean their hands before they board.
Passengers are also reminded to practice social distancing with one passenger per seat
The coronavirus has caused tourist numbers to drop away to nothing – and that’s taken a toll on the bus company revenues.
Cook’s Buses have experienced an 85 per cent weekly revenue decline, because the schools have also shut down.“Usually during this period, it is the schools and group transfers that get us through,” he said.
They now carry just 70 passengers a day, most of them locals and workers.
The only remaining bus runs clockwise, that departing Cook’s Corner in town every hour from 7am to 6pm.
Although the business is running at a loss, Cook says they are maintaining a bus service for workers, locals, pensioners and less able-bodied passengers who depend on them.
“We want to continue to provide transportation and consider this an essential service, as there are people who do rely on the service.
“Stranded visitors have expressed their gratitude for keeping the service operational, as it is now the most affordable transportation for them to shop for essentials.”
Danny Cook is relieved and thankful for the government’s assistance to private businesses such as theirs.
“We have updated our staff, they understand, we have had to cut down and share the shift, and ensure the coronavirus health measures are in place.”
Cook Islands pensioners and less able-bodied (Creative Centre and Te Kainga) are sponsored by the company and ride free-of-charge. Workers and locals can purchase a 10 ride concession ticket for $20.
Cook thanked those customers who had stuck by them, and their bank BSP who have come onboard and provided support at this difficult time.