Avoid public transport guidance axed

As suggested earlier this month, the government has abandoned its guidance on avoiding non-essential use of public transport to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We are making clear that anybody may use public transport, while of course encouraging people to consider alternative means of transport where available.”

CPT Chief Executive, Graham Vidler, said: “Operators have worked hard to ensure that buses are safe for both passengers and drivers. Moving away from the damaging avoid public transport message will be an important step in giving people the confidence to travel and we look forward to welcoming more passengers back onto buses.

“We now need the Government to work with operators to encourage greater bus use as part of the green recovery. Without encouraging people back onto public transport we risk poorer air quality and increased congestion in our towns and cities as people continue to travel by car.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “This is good news for people who want to catch a bus, train or tram in England. The message for England is clear: you can now use public transport, but you must still wear a face covering unless exempt, follow the rules on social distancing and avoid the busiest times if you can.

“As the economy reopens and people start thinking about travelling again, it is important to be clear that you can now use public transport even if you have an alternative. However, big hurdles remain before there is a mass return to office working, as our research shows: people have got used to working from home, still have concerns about safety and the price might still put them off.”

Urban Transport Group Director, Jonathan Bray, said: “As transport authorities we have been liaising intensively on the key issues which will help support a safe return to public transport for more people and more journey purposes. This includes managing capacity, cleanliness and hygiene and communicating with the public.

“Significant challenges lie ahead. Not least of which is the looming 4 August deadline when the current funding package for local buses and light rail systems outside London elapses, as well as how we manage and pay for the additional public transport that will be needed to support a return to schools in September.

“However, we will continue to work together to tackle these challenges as part of our wider response to the COVID 19 crisis of getting essential workers where they need to be, supporting the recovery and being an integral part of building back better and greener in the aftermath of this crisis.”

In London, TfL’s Transport Commissioner, Andy Byford, stressed the importance of a sustainable recovery from the pandemic. He said: “What is clear to me is that the current situation is unsustainable – we must avoid a car-led recovery which would cause gridlock and only make things worse. So my message to Londoners returning to public transport is we are doing everything to keep things clean and safe for everyone. We are here to help.”

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