Ministers urge those who have to travel for work to change their travel habits


The government has issued new guidance for transport operators and users following the news that the current lockdown is to be relaxed in England at least from tomorrow (Wednesday).

The guidance sets out that if people who cannot work from home and have to travel for work, they should first consider alternatives to public transport, such as cycling, walking and, more controversially, driving. However, the government is urging those using their own cars to avoid busy areas.

It adds that these alternatives to public transport are being pushed by the government as even with a full service, the two-metre social distancing rule would only leave effective capacity for one in ten passengers on many parts of the network.

For those who have to use public transport, the guidance for passengers on how to travel safely recommends:

  • Keeping two metres apart from others wherever possible;
  • Wearing a face covering if you can;
  • Using contactless payment where possible;
  • Avoiding rush hour travel where feasible;
  • Washing or sanitising your hands as soon as possible before and after travel; and
  • Following advice from staff and being considerate to others

All transport operators have been issued guidance. It requires them to conduct risk assessments to assess the risks to workers and passengers, along with the control measures required.

Service providers have also been reminded that they have a duty to ensure individuals with protected characteristics, for example disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women, are able to access transport networks.

Meanwhile, operators are also encouraged to revise working methods, for example greater use of technology to facilitate remote signing on and off at work, digital means to communicate shift patterns and staggering break times to reduce pressure on break rooms or canteens.

They have also been advised to pay particular attention to queueing methods, including at interchanges and at busy times of the day, or where there are unanticipated delays.

“It is important that passengers can queue safely (observing social distancing where possible) and that workers stay safe while passengers queue,” notes the guidance.

Touch points (for example buttons to open doors, hand rails) across the transport network should be particular areas of focus for increased cleaning and separate guidance on cleaning and waste disposal has been issued.

To help reduce pressure on the transport network so there is space for social distancing where possible, the Department for Transport says transport secretary Grant Shapps has spoken to train and bus operators and local authorities to ensure they increase the number of available services over the coming weeks.

“Transport operators and staff have been working hard to ensure that people who need to get to work are able to do so, including crucial NHS workers and all those on the frontline of the fight against the virus,” said Shapps.

We can all play our part by following the advice and reducing pressure on public transport

“Alongside the cycling and walking revolution we are launching, and clear guidance to passengers and operators published today, we can all play our part by following the advice and reducing pressure on public transport.

“If we take these steps, all those who need to use public transport should feel confident that they can do so safely, with the space to maintain social distancing as far as possible.”

Last weekend Shapps announced a £2bn package of cycling and active travel investment to deliver a “green revolution” in travel.

This included £250m for local authorities in England to create pop up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors.

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