Abellio to launch trial off middle-door only boarding on several routes


London bus operators have agreed to new measures aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to coronavirus following talks with trade unions and Transport for London. It follows the news that a total of nine London bus drivers have lost their lives after contracting covid-19.

TfL has also confirmed this morning it will launch trial of middle-door only boarding on buses this week.

Following talks, London operators have also agreed that that health and safety reps from the Unite union, which represents the bulk of the capital’s bus drivers, will be released full-time from their duties.

In their new role they will be tasked with ensuring that the safety measures already in place, including deep cleaning of buses, the supply of sanitiser, placing seats next to the driver out of bounds and strict social distancing measures in garages and depots, are fully enforced.

Meanwhile, operators have confirmed that any remaining gaps in drivers’ Perspex assault screens will be sealed on all buses. Some are understood to be issuing staff members with Personal Protective Equipment, including masks and disposable gloves.

Unite is also working with operators to ensure that drivers are not being forced to take their breaks on the road but in areas that are “clean, safe and where they can socially distance”.

TfL has confirmed a trial of middle-door only boarding, a key ask of Unite officials in recent days, will begin this week on several routes operated by Abellio London from its Walworth Garage. Numerous cities in continental Europe have already introduced such a measure.

“We’ve already delivered many other enhanced safety measures and by trialling middle-door only boarding on buses we can gain the information we need to see if we can further improve safety on London’s buses,” said Claire Mann, TfL’s director of bus operations.