OVERCROWDED buses have sparked fears Covid cases could rise sharply again, with drivers seen letting “as many people on as possible.”

Furious passengers felt unsafe while travelling across Basildon on First buses, with “nobody leaving any space” and teenagers failing to wear masks properly.

Bosses admit there has been an increased demand in services but insists drivers are following the rules.

A passenger, however, insisted the problem of overcrowding persisted throughout the third lockdown.

The 33-year-old, who uses the route 22 on a daily basis, said: “I didn’t feel safe last week at all.

“It was completely full, with five people standing too.

“The driver was just letting people on. At one stop, he told the seven people there that only three more people were allowed on, but he just let all of them on when he realised a mum and her three kids would have missed the bus.

“I’m a key worker, I don’t want to see it get back to how we were a few months ago, but I fear it could with things like this going on.”

First is adamant the correct levels of passengers are maintained on its buses, but warned this can change depending on bus stop queues.

Graham Drake, staff manager at First Hadleigh, added: “It’s important to stress we are still adhering to the government guidelines on social distancing, a requirement to wear a face covering and limited capacities on board.

“We monitor every service and journey operated each day and are introducing additional buses where needed to accommodate for the extra demand.

“Our drivers are managing the agreed levels relating to how many people can travel at any one time along a route, taking into consideration people who are travelling together as a family or as part of a bubble, this condition can change the amount of people travelling on board at any one time.”

First had promised extra services to deal with extra passenger when children went back into school after lockdown.

The resident added: “It was full of school children. Hardly anyone was wearing masks properly, they were either pulled down under their neck or their nose.

“This has been going on throughout the third lockdown. First said that they were putting more buses, but that has yet to materialise.”