“I basically live off National Express coaches my whole life,” says Sam Serrano. “I was on first-name terms with most of the drivers. But I never thought I’d get an adrenalin rush from being on a bus.”
Sam is a stand-up comedian, and about to embark on an all-nighter: the 12.01am coach from Manchester to London.
“I’m on this coach to go and see my girlfriend in Bournemouth who I haven’t seen for going on for five months now. So it’s very, very exciting.”
As with the comedy industry, so with long-distance coaches: it has a been a miserable pandemic. No National Express coach has run for the past 11 weeks. But the government has now lifted the stay at home rule, allowing “non-essential” travel for the first time.
The two drivers of the midnight coach to London, Dave Crooks and Bryan Brown, pronounce themselves “glad to be back” and “back in the old routine” respectively.
“It’s very safe to travel,’ says Dave, keen to dispel passengers’ concerns. “People have got their masks on, there’s hand sanitiser on board, they’ve been well cleaned before the journey, so absolutely no problem at all.”
Every passenger has their temperature taken before being allowed on board…