COVID-19 – Changes to Public Transport

Lucy JohnstonNews

Latest update: 5th August

Aberdeen: Local restrictions in place

5th August: The Scottish Government have reimposed some lockdown restrictions in Aberdeen after a recent outbreak.

To limit the outbreak, the Scottish government, in line with the local health team and Aberdeen City Council, has agreed the following new advice:

  • People should not travel more than five miles for leisure purposes
  • Travelling for work or education is permitted, but other travel is not advised
  • Do not travel to Aberdeen
  • Do not go into each others’ houses (with the exception of extended household groups)
  • All indoor and outdoor hospitality in the city to close from tonight ( Wednesday 5th Aug), which will be enforced if necessary.

Please note that face coverings are mandatory on pubic transport read more guidance of face coverings and exemptions.

Temporary changes to public transport services in the north east of Scotland are in place following advice around physical contact and non-essential travel in response to an increase in cases of the coronavirus. Public transport services are continuing to increase, though capacity will remain restricted due to physical distancing. The preference still remains to travel actively where possible.

Due to the quickly evolving nature of the situation, please be advised that all timetables may be subject to change. Please make sure to check the latest information available before travelling.


On 26th May, the Scottish Government announced their Transport Transition Plan, to prepare the transport system as we ease through and out of the Covid-19 crisis. It includes guidance on keeping public transport safe.

Advice on how to travel safely

For the safety of yourself and others, please follow the guidance below when travelling:

  • Stay at home if you or anyone in your household is experiencing coronavirus symptoms (new continuous dry cough, fever or the loss of or a change in your sense of smell or taste) or if you are self-isolating
  • Familiarise yourself with Scottish Government test and protect guidance
  • Stay local as much as possible for goods, services and activities and continue to work from home where you can
  • Consider walking, wheeling or cycling, if you can, to reduce pressure on the road network and on public transport where capacity will be limited
  • Plan your journey and leave additional time due to temporary restrictions or changes to previous timetables or schedules
  • Pay for your journey online, use smart ticketing, the operator’s mobile app, or contactless payment, if you can, to reduce cash handling
  • Comply with any signage or instructions on public transport or from transport staff as the safety measures in place are for everyone’s benefit
  • When travelling on public transport or in a taxi or private hire vehicle or when you are in a bus or railway station, enclosed ferry terminal or airport you must wear a face covering
  • Travel to islands is permitted, as long as it is for the purposes allowed in the relevant phase of the Scottish Government route map and in line with all other guidance
  • Be considerate of the impact of restrictions on the needs of fellow passengers who may have impairments, disabilities or mobility issues
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser before and after every transport journey.



First Aberdeen

First Aberdeen have announced that as Sunday 2nd of August, the vast majority of services will be further improved, with many routes operating increased frequencies in the evenings and on Sundays across the network.

With the latest version of the First Bus App you can now track your bus live on a map and it also displays how many seats are available on each bus.

Full details of these timetables are available online. As these may be subject to change further, customers are advised to check for the latest information on their dedicated web page.


From Monday 3rd August 2020 bus services in Aberdeenshire and Moray will increase ahead of the resumption of schools. 

All buses continue to operate at a reduced capacity to help comply with the current social distancing advice while on your journey. To help you plan your trip in advance, Stagecoach have introduced a busy bus indicator available on their app, find out more here

Full details of these timetables are available online. As these may be subject to change further, customers are advised to check for the latest information on their dedicated web page.


Physical distancing on trains and at stations will reduce to a minimum of one metre from Monday, 27 July.


Aberdeen restrictions: 5th Aug: ScotRail will continue to run services to Aberdeen and are not planning to reduce the timetable, but are advising customers that they will be for essential journeys only. Customers who have tickets already booked can find information on refunds from their website,

ScotRail will increase the number of services it operates from Monday, 3 August. More than 90 per cent of normal services will operate. All routes will have normal early morning, late night, and peak services. One hundred per cent of normal capacity will be provided during peak travel hours, although many seats will need to remain empty to maintain physical distancing.

Timetables are available from their website and mobile app. You can also check with Traveline Scotland at , or on 0871 200 22 33.


LNER have introduced a new, temporary timetable, to support those who have no other way to travel to make essential journeys, in a socially distanced way.

They advise that customers should:

  • plan ahead and buy tickets and make a reservation before visiting the station
  • check before travel
  • allow more time for journeys
  • wear a face covering to protect others if social distancing cannot be maintained
  • avoid travelling during the busiest times.

From Wednesday 17th June, all reservations, whether secured at the time of ticket booking or afterwards using the online reservation tool, will include a specific, socially distanced seat. LNER will be advising customers to follow the specific seat on their tickets and confirmation e-mails, which will also encourage customers to spread out on platforms. Households travelling in a group will continue to be permitted to sit together and should choose seats around one of their seat reservations.

Scottish services resume 

From Monday 3 August LNER are reintroducing their full Aberdeen and Inverness services. This is following the successful reintroduction of all the intermediate stops between Edinburgh and Aberdeen the week prior.

From Thursday 30th July, a limited light catering service will be resumed on all services.


The Scottish Government have advised that from 22 June you must wear a face covering on public transport or in a station, enclosed ferry terminal or airport. Young children are exempt from wearing a face covering, as are those people, for example, with health conditions for whom a face covering would be inappropriate. If you have an exemption, the Thistle Assistance Card or App is a safe and easy way to let public transport staff know.