Passengers required to touch in on a further 120 London bus routes

Research has determined sealing gaps in security screens has cut the risk of drivers contracting COVID-19

Transport for London has confirmed that buses in the capital will continue to return to front-door boarding, with passengers on a further 124 routes required to touch in with Oyster, contactless and concessionary cards from tomorrow.

It is anticipated that all buses in London will have returned to front-door boarding by mid-June.

Last weekend passengers on 85 routes served by single-door and New Routemaster vehicles, plus the Route 507/521 ‘Red Arrow’ routes, saw fare collection reintroduced.

The reintroduction of boarding arrangements follows extensive work by a multidisciplinary team from UCL’s Centre for Transport Studies and Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering to assess the risks for drivers in their cabs. TfL also worked closely with bus operators and the UNITE union to develop improvements to the security screens beside bus drivers.

The UCL analysis finds that the steps that TfL has taken – by adding a film layer to screens and sealing off gaps around the screen as a whole, including around the Oyster reader – substantially reduces the risk to drivers of contracting coronavirus from passengers.

From tomorrow (Saturday, May 30) passengers will start to see signage on 124 bus routes instructing them to board using the front door and use their Oyster, contactless or concessionary cards. Front-door boarding will be reinstated on further bus routes as soon as possible.

To further ensure the safety of customers and bus drivers, new limits to the number of customers on board at any one time will be introduced. This will help customers to observe the national guidance to maintain a two-metre distance between them and others wherever possible.

Double deck buses with multiple doors will have a capacity of 20 people. Drivers will have the discretion to allow up to 25 passengers, if households are travelling together. Single deck buses will have a capacity of between six and 10 people depending on the size of the vehicle. Drivers will have the discretion to allow up to seven or up to 14 passengers if households are travelling together.

“Following the outcomes of the research by UCL’s Centre for Transport Studies, and through working closely with UNITE and the bus operators, we now know that the measures we have introduced to add extra protection to the driver’s cab have improved safety,” said Claire Mann, TfL’s director of bus operations.

“Bus drivers have played a heroic role during the pandemic, ensuring that essential travel has been maintained and that NHS workers have been able to get to work and save lives. The bus network is now supporting London’s safe and sustainable recovery by ensuring that customers can more easily maintain a safe social distance.”

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