BUS and coach operators in Scotland have revealed how they will be planning for the “new normal” that will follow the easing of the lockdown.

Britain’s biggest operator, Stagecoach, set out a six-point plan, which it said required radical long-term changes to help reboot economies and protect communities.

And it said Covid-19 should be a “defining moment” that transforms society for the better.

Its rival First Bus warned that social distancing would be “unsustainable” as the lockdown was eventually eased.

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach chief executive, set out his plan in a social media blog, in which he called for a joint operational and investment plan developed by industry and government; steps to rebuild confidence in mass transit; a move away from peak-time commuting; and investment in transitional support for operators.

He said: “Covid-19 has taken a terrible toll on many people’s lives across the UK and overseas.

“But among all the human tragedy, the pandemic has given us a window on what could be a positive future world – one with dramatically fewer cars on our roads, safer streets, cleaner air and less damage to our environment ... The lockdown has shown how much the country is missing human contact.

“Buses provide that essential daily social link, helping combat loneliness and hidden mental health challenges.”

Graeme MacFarlane, First Bus commercial director, said social distancing restrictions had triggered a drop of 85% in demand for its services and it would not be possible post-Covid to run enough buses to comply with the rules.

“Going forward it’s going to be a challenge, because as demand increases and we need to observe social distancing guidelines we do have to put more resource out,” he said.

“That means more buses, which is more costly so that is unsustainable in the longer period.”

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson told BBC Good Morning Scotland travel would not be returning to normal: “We will have to change our behaviour while social distancing remains in place.”