Bus drivers handling cash during the coronavirus pandemic “is a killer”, a trade union official has warned.
Bobby Morton, Unite’s national officer for passenger transport, said workers are “absolutely terrified” of being infected.
There is growing concern over the safety of drivers, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirming that at least 15 bus workers have died in the capital after testing positive for Covid-19.
Payments for bus journeys in London are cashless, but cash is accepted on the vast majority of services in the rest of the UK.
Mr Morton told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m hearing, on an hourly, daily basis, horrific stories. I’ve already received three calls this morning from drivers who are absolutely terrified for their lives.
“They’re sitting at the sharp end, they’re dealing with cash, particularly in the North West, and the virus can be passed on to them in a second.”
He added: “It’s OK saying ‘wash your hands regularly in hot water’ – if there are no facilities to do it, you don’t do it.”
Bus operators have introduced a series of measures aimed at improving safety, such as discouraging the use of seats near the driver and covering speaking holes in protective screens.
A trial has been launched on some routes in London which mean passengers use the middle door to board, instead of the one next to the driver.
Mr Morton said all of the changes being implemented “merely reduce the risk” of being infected, when “the risk should be eradicated, not reduced”.
Unite wants drivers to be issued with personal protective equipment.
On the use of cash, Mr Morton said: “I keep harping on everywhere I go about this function of handling cash – it is a killer – and I can only speak for myself, if I were in a cab I wouldn’t be touching any money whatsoever.
“I’m not advising drivers to do that, that’s my opinion.”
A South London bus driver identified only as Lorraine, 62, said last week in an online video she was “proud to do her job” but “frightened to die” as she begged the Government to do more to help protect transport staff.