Travelling Safely on Public Transport

12 May 2020

DfT Covid

TfL announces plan to help London travel safely and sustainably as Government sets out roadmap to gradually ease coronavirus restrictions

Following the Government’s announcement of an outline roadmap for the next period, Transport for London (TfL) today set out its initial plan to support this and help Londoners who need to travel do so safely and sustainably. This will be supplemented over the coming days following advice on travel to be issued by Government.

The plan will require significant changes to the way in which people travel in London.

TfL has been able to operate up to 60 per cent of Tube services and more than 80 per cent of bus services during the crisis to support essential journeys. This is while managing the impact of the virus on the transport workforce with staff ill, shielding or self-isolating.

In keeping with plans on the national rail network, TfL is working to safely and gradually build up service levels to where they were before the pandemic and will return the number of buses and trains running to as close to 100 per cent as soon as possible. TfL is working closely with staff and the trade unions with the intention of, by 18 May, increasing service levels to around 85 per cent on the bus network, at least 70 per cent on the Tube and London Overground (in line with national rail services), 80 per cent on the DLR and a full service on TfL Rail.

London Underground is aiming to restore the Circle Line and to re-open some of the 37 stations that have been closed for several weeks. However, some stations will stay closed for now so that staff can be deployed to help manage any congestion at busier stations. Some stations with lift-only access may need to remain closed as social distancing is not possible.

However, as is the case with national rail services, this does not mean a return to the transport network that existed before the crisis.

The national requirement to maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible means that TfL will only be able to carry around 13-15 per cent of the normal number of passengers on the Tube and bus networks even when 100 per cent of services are operating once again over time.

Transport providers, borough councils, schools, businesses and Londoners all have a vital role to play over the coming weeks, working with Government to meet a travel demand challenge that far outstrips the challenge experienced during the 2012 Olympic games.

During that period it was necessary to reduce normal travel demand by 20 per cent to keep travel safe. Now, demand will have to be reduced by more than 85 per cent compared to normal to enable social distancing to be maintained wherever possible.

Even with only 5 per cent of journeys currently being made on the Tube, there are certain times and locations where social distancing is already very difficult. The challenge in managing social distancing will become greater as, over time, more people who cannot work from home return to using the network.

Everyone is being asked to stay home as much as possible, work from home if possible, maintain social distancing of 2 metres where possible and ensure hands are washed regularly. Everyone is asked to consider if their journey is necessary before travelling, and to think about the times, routes and ways they travel so that everyone has more space to stay safe. This will ensure the transport network can keep running safely for those who have no alternative means of making their journey.

Reflecting these national messages, TfL has today set out the following advice for Londoners:

• If you can work from home, please continue to do so. Please avoid public transport wherever possible. Social distancing on public transport will not be possible unless we radically reduce the overall number of people travelling to work;

• Do not expect to return to the transport network you were used to before. The number of people TfL can safely transport on buses and trains is severely constrained to enable social distancing;

• If you need to travel, please reimagine how you do so. Walk and cycle if you can. New walking and cycling space is being created through the London Streetspace programme to further support this;

• Please shop locally and use local leisure facilities to help keep demand on roads, buses and tubes down;

• If using public transport, or taxi and private hire services, please travel outside of peak times and use a facial covering, carry a hand sanitizer and wash your hands before and after you travel. The latest Government advice is that, although face coverings are unlikely to prevent you from getting the virus, they could help prevent you from giving it to others. Face coverings are particularly important where 2m social distancing is hard to maintain;

• Advice on maintaining social distancing will be given across the transport network and further measures to prevent crowding through new queuing systems will be in operation. This includes new social-distancing posters on display at bus stops, stations and in shelters, and two-metre floor markings on platforms at stations. Please respect each other’s space and try to maintain social distancing wherever possible;

• Our hardworking staff are there to help: please act on their instructions and respect them at all times;

• If you have to drive, please avoid peak times and obey speed limits and traffic laws at all times.

Detailed information about travelling and staying safe will be regularly updated on the TfL website reflecting Government guidance.

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