Chandlers makes coaching return

Operator returns with first day trips since lockdown

Chandlers Coach Travel has made its first coach day-trips since lockdown.

The first trip was to Swanage in Dorset. It saw two of its coaches out on the road. Social distancing was in place, with passengers sat in ‘bubbles’ and joining them on the day out were some of the operator’s furloughed staff.

Owner of the business, Margaret I’Anson, had to declare her 12-strong fleet of full-size coaches SORN and furlough employees on account of the lack of work due to the affects of the coronavirus. Her policy is to refund passengers when it was discovered booked tours for this year could not go ahead. She told Bus and Coach Buyer: “Our policy is to refund passengers, just give them their money back rather than reschedule. A lot of passengers appreciate that. It’s just the way I work.”

She said that despite the challenging times, she is not prepared to call it a day: “I bought this business 29 years ago and I won’t let it go down without a fight.”

“I bought this business 29 years ago and I won’t let it go down without a fight” – Margaret I’Anson

Margaret reports her business has had zero income since 23 March. She believes the industry will have to pull itself out of the financial devastation of COVID-19: “We are not going to get anything out of the government no matter how much we plead.”

The operator announced it would make the return  on social media in July. Margaret said she has made extensive use of Facebook to keep in touch with passengers. A video was posted on the social media platform showing Margaret driving out in an Irizar i6 on her first day trip since lockdown.

Margaret is finding day trips are proving more popular than her holidays.

The trip to Swanage is the first of a series of planned day excursions. Further trips include: Weymouth or Portland Bill, Windsor, Lymington, Lynton and Lynmouth, Christchurch and Mudeford, Sidmouth, Weston-super-Mare, Clarks Village, Worthing, Dartmouth, another to Swanage and a bank holiday mystery tour.

Commenting on her passengers on the first day back, Margaret said: “They couldn’t wait to get onboard. For me personally it was the happiest day of my life, barring my children being born; to be behind the wheel again and driving. It felt surreal, with all the build-up before and the hoping it would go all right.

“One lady onboard, she told me: ‘you know, Margaret, I’ve dreamt about sitting on a deckchair on the beach, breathing in the sea air, since all of this began. And now you’ve made that come true.’

“It shows you, we do change people’s lives. And the government doesn’t realise that.”

“It shows you, we do change people’s lives. And the government doesn’t realise that”

Passengers left positive messages about the first trip back on Chandlers Facebook site. Dani Raymond said: “It was very much a needed day out by many, everyone enjoyed themselves and we couldn’t have asked for better weather, we look forward to the next one.”

Extra health and safety measures have been put in place on her coaches, including a fogging system for sanitising the interior of a coach. The chemical it emits settles in the air conditioning system and is meant to last 30 days, but Margaret prefers to use it every fortnight. She said: “We have done all the necessary risk assessments. My biggest fear is we get to somewhere and then a passenger comes down with the virus and we have to cut the holiday short. What do we do?”

Margaret was keen to thank ‘Team Chandlers’ who have all helped make the day out a success.

  • Are you running coach trips again? Let us know at [email protected] or on 01733 362316

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