Nearly two-thirds told Transport Focus that they expect social distancing to be in place on transport after lockdown restrictions are lifted

 
Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are calling for governments to ensure that ‘active travel’ is encouraged

 
Transport Focus is calling for reassurances for passengers as new research reveals that three in five (62%) say they wouldn’t feel comfortable using public transport unless social distancing is in place.

Passenger watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are together calling for governments and the transport industry to outline how they will reassure passengers that it will be safe as possible to travel by public transport.

One passenger said: “I will be nervous about travelling by train or bus as I don’t see how social distancing will work. I think it will be important that people are not crowded together for a long time.”

After months of being told not to travel people will understandably be fearful about venturing out

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the Transport Focus, said: “After months of being told not to travel people will understandably be fearful about venturing out. The government must outline in its upcoming roadmap for easing lockdown what measures it will put in place to reassure people they can travel safely.”

While people in London are more likely to say they will look to cycle and walk more, rather than catch public transport, those outside London are more likely to say they will switch to driving. Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are calling for governments to ensure that ‘active travel’ is encouraged, to prevent roads becoming more congested.

Emma Gibson, director of London TravelWatch, said: “It is interesting to see that Londoners place more importance on people wearing face masks as they move around the capital than people in other areas around the UK and that a higher percentage of Londoners in the survey would travel without social distancing or hand sanitiser available at stations or stops. Perhaps that is because they rely on public transport more than anyone else in the country.

“Like everyone, Londoners are concerned about travelling once restrictions are lifted in the capital, but a greater number of people intend to walk and cycle more often, compared to other parts of the country. Also bucking the trend, Londoners are less likely to say that they will drive more in order to avoid using public transport.”

Responding to the research on passenger attitudes to travelling on public transport as lockdown measures are eased, Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: “The public are understandably nervous about returning to normal life, including using public transport. However, operators are doing everything they can, including enhanced cleaning regimes, to keep staff and passengers safe.

“We are preparing to build upon our emergency network to one with more comprehensive links so that we can play a central role, which the research shows will be required, in helping people get to work or to see family and friends when the government says it is safe to do so.

We need investment from government and clarity on what social distancing measures it plans to have in place to ensure we can continue to provide a safe bus service

“In order to provide this expanded network we need investment from government and clarity on what social distancing measures it plans to have in place to ensure we can continue to provide a safe bus service.”

Key survey findings:

  • 83% think hand sanitiser should be available on public transport vehicles, at stations, and at stops;
  • 62% won’t use public transport unless social distancing is in place;
  • 51% wouldn’t be happy using public transport unless passengers are required to wear face masks;
  • People aged 18-24 are most comfortable about returning to public transport (40%). People in Scotland (32%) and the West Midlands (29%) are the most likely, with those in the North West least happy (19%).

What transport users say:

“I think I will be reluctant to use public transport once restrictions are eased because of the close proximity of people on trains or buses. You cannot guarantee you will get any distance between you and other passengers.”

“I think that they will have to limit the number of people who can use every bus, train carriage etc. People will have to wear masks, and transport companies will have to disinfect daily. I also think that people will be very nervous of using public transport for a while.”

“People will respect social distancing and be scared to sit next to each other on tube or bus or train. People will want to wear masks and gloves. Still prefer to travel by car than public transport.”

“We will be back to congested roads and because people will be ‘raring to go’ there will also be mayhem, perhaps a few more road traffic accidents.”

“I’m hoping that more people will walk instead of using the car for short journeys. I also hope that a lot of people currently working from home continue to do so, as it means there is far less traffic and less pollution.”

 
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