Following successful trial on nine routes, passengers will only be able to enter via the centre doors of buses in London from Monday


Transport for London has announced that buses across the capital’s bus network will become middle-door only boarding only from next Monday.

The move is being introduced following a trial launched last week of middle-door boarding was on nine routes operated by Abellio London from Walworth Garage in south London.

From observing passengers across the 140 buses involved in the trial, TfL is also confident that the low number of people currently using the network can keep a safe distance when entering and exiting through the same door.

It adds that middle-door only boarding provides better protection for drivers, who are playing a vital role in helping other critical workers, like doctors and nurses, to tackle the virus.

During the period these temporary arrangements are in place, passengers will not be required to touch in with their Oyster or contactless payment card. TfL says passengers should not approach the card reader near the driver’s cab.

The new boarding arrangements build on the enhanced social distancing measures already introduced on London’s buses after working closely with the trade union Unite.

This includes signage asking passengers not to sit in the seats near the driver’s cab, improvements to the protective screen that shields drivers and regular announcements to reinforce the need to keep a safe space from others.

TfL has also introduced a rigorous cleaning regime to kill the virus across the London transport network using new, anti-viral fluid in stations, depots, bus garages, trains and on buses, including the driver’s cab.

It is also exploring what more can be done to create a completely sealed partition between drivers and passengers that allows for both communication and ventilation.

“Bus drivers are pivotal in ensuring critical workers like NHS staff and grocery workers can perform the vital roles they do during this national emergency,” said Claire Mann, TfL’s director of bus operations.

“Their efforts are nothing short of heroic, and it is essential that we leave no stone unturned when looking to protect them. Extending middle-door only boarding across the bus network will add another layer of protection on top of the other robust safeguards in place.”

The move has been welcomed by trade union Unite, which represents the vast majority of London’s bus drivers.

“Unite has been asking for central boarding as an essential safety measure during these times because bus workers are, understandably, fearful for their health,” said Pete Kavanagh, Unite London and Eastern regional secretary. “It is reassuring that the mayor and TfL have listened and acted now to protect this workforce.”

TfL says middle-door boarding arrangements will be kept under review and will need to be adjusted as the government reviews in future the travel restrictions currently in place across the country.

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