A BUS company has come under fire after refusing to confront passengers who do not wear face coverings.

Passengers have demanded the Keighley Bus Company take action to make travellers wear coverings to combat the spread of Covid-19.

But the company insists it is the job of police rather than drivers to take action against rule-breakers, stating: “Our drivers aren’t enforcement officers, it is for the police to enforce the rules.

“Our drivers work extremely hard and it is unfair on them to confront customers about the wearing of coverings, particularly as there are exemptions.

“We are providing communication for everyone to follow this new rule but it is for the police to enforce it. If someone chooses to ignore this rule then they risk being fined.”

The company issued its words on Twitter after several local people complained about fellow passengers not wearing face coverings, and claiming drivers had not mentioned the rule to passengers boarding the buses.

One wrote: “I used the bus for work and there were several people getting on who didn’t have masks and were not asked about them.”

Another said she witnessed three people get on a bus without masks, and without being challenged. She added: “The bus already had four people without masks sitting down..”

One man said the new law was pointless if it was not enforced, while another said he did not feel safe travelling.

Phil Bown, regional officer for bus drivers’ union Unite, said bus drivers had no authority to enforce the wearing of masks or face coverings on their buses.

He said: “Only the police can take action. Unite is advising drivers to inform passengers without masks that they risk an on-the-spot fine but they cannot take any further action.”

West Yorkshire Police said the guidelines on face coverings were set nationally by the National Police Chief’s Council and College of Policing.

The guidance suggests police first talk to people about the regulations, explaining first that face coverings help prevent the spread of the virus, then that they may be fined or stopped from travelling on the bus.

The guidance states: “Enforcement should always be a last resort. Only a constable may use reasonable force, if necessary, to remove someone from the vehicle. As last resort, officers may issue a fixed penalty notice for breach of the regulations or arrest where necessary.”

Alan Isherwood, general manager of the Keighley Bus Company, said that since the new rules introduced, most people on the company's buses had been wearing face coverings.

He said: “Since the new rule was introduced, most people on our buses have been wearing face coverings. There are exemptions to the rule which are quite broad, and include many hidden difficulties/disabilities so we do expect to see people not wearing face coverings on our buses, and that the reason for that may not be visible.

"The police, we have been assured by the Department for Transport, will carry out the enforcement of this new law. People not wearing face coverings on the bus, who aren’t exempt, risk the £100 fine from the police, who are the ones with the powers to do so.

"Our drivers are not enforcement personnel, do not have any powers to carry out any enforcement, and it is unfair to expect them to act as if they are.

"Most of our customers are wearing face coverings, either that they’ve made themselves, bought from our pop-up online shop, or our travel shop in the bus station. We’re making it as easy as possible to get one, and they’re proving very popular.”